People who cannot find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness.John Wanamaker
I may have pushed my limits a bit. I have spent my last holidays working, instead of having some much-needed rest. Back to work, still exhausted, I eventually get sick. I didn’t take any sick days1. Too many things to do, no time to be sick! Of course, it gets worse. I barely managed to finish the week, at the cost of my CogitActive evening work time. I spend my weekend in bed with fever, hoping that I will be able to go to work the following Monday. I did – even though I was still sick and very weak; the perfect mix to make my week a little more vomit- and flu-ridden. Not surprisingly, I caught something else, something nasty – the indirect cost of daycare, right. This time the weekend was not enough, I had no other choice but to take sick days.
There will be times when your productivity will completely tank due to getting sick and you’ll just have to manage and bounce back.Choncé Maddox
Because I could not afford to lose any working hours, I did not take sick days in the first place. Instead of taking care of me for a few days and coming back to work recovered, I hardly managed to do my work (at work) and could not do anything else (i.e. at home, for the release of my podcast). Instead of being sick for two or three days – or whatever – I ended up being sick for more than two weeks. Given my condition, I was eventually forced to take sick days anyway. Not only did I lose these workdays, but my CogitActive time also vanished during this period (i.e. two weekends and too many evenings wasted falling from the frying pan into the fire). Quite the contrary of being productive and efficient indeed! This made me wonder: are there any time management techniques for when you are sick?
A sound advice:
Take a Day Off2
This sounds counter-productive but hey if you’re really sick, you have to take time off in order to recover. Most people try to push through and keep on working which can actually make things worse.Choncé Maddox
I have learned my lesson, the hard way (see above). Trying to power through completely broke my body down. Of course, it was a gamble – the kind of stupid decision you take under pressure – but, as Choncé Maddox put it,
there’s no telling how you’ll possibly pay for it in the future when you could have just taken one day off and gone back to work the next day being more recharged.2
In keeping with her good advice, it is essential to start appropriate treatment as soon as possible. This involves making time for doctor’s appointments and picking up medicine – something a little more complicated than usual during the pandemic, though. Hoping to get better with sleep only – if you can sleep through the fewer and pain –
will just lead you to feel worse for longer and you’ll lose precious time that could’ve been spent getting back on schedule.2
Of course, it will take you some time to catch up, but it is easier to catch up on one single day of work than on two weeks! To recap, while being sick can make you feel helpless when it comes to being productive, it can be a lot worse if you don’t get the much-needed rest you need.
When to go back to work?
Most of the time, a single day will not be enough unfortunately. The seasonal illnesses generally knock you down for three days, but it might take you longer to recover – especially if you are not taking any medicine. If you cannot afford to stay out of work that long, you can start to get back to business, but at a slow pace.
If you’re on the road to recovery and feel like you can start easing back into doing some work, be sure to break your tasks up into smaller chunks.Choncé Maddox
Of course, when you are sick, you are not going to be as productive as you are when you are feeling great, but you can manage to do a few things now so you don’t return to work to find a huge pile of things that need doing. Besides, it can give you a sense of accomplishment. The key is to be on the road to recovery. I have tried this approach still being sick as a dog; all I have managed was to overexert myself and make things worse.
Delegate your work
What a nice idea! Except when you don’t have a dedicated team to work for you. As explained in The Who and the When, many podcasters carry with them a support staff of dedicated individuals with specialized skills: sound engineer, composer, graphic artist, web-designer, writer, among others. I have opted for a one-man staff! Not to mention the do-it-yourself solution which costs time, a lot of time!
Unfortunately, there are not many articles on the subject. Therefore, I am back to Choncé Maddox’s one, again. Actually, I have kept her best advice for the end. The one I would have loved to be able to follow – if I was not so behind!
One of the best things you can do as a business owner is work ahead. This will help put you at ease when you do get sick and have to take a few days off.Choncé Maddox
1 Don’t worry, I didn’t spread my illness to other workers being isolated in my office. It is also worth mentioning, nowadays, that it was not covid. It was an old-school, normal – yet severe – seasonal cold. At the beginning… ^
2 Choncé Maddox (2018) How to Manage a Productivity Slump When You’re Sick. Calendar Inc. ^