I’ve been limping along with annoying ill symptoms for about three weeks now and I’m boring myself with it.
However, I learned some pretty valuable lessons about work these past few weeks which you might find useful. Whatever little infectious buddy that my body has been incubating was kind enough to have me holed up in bed for a good week.
And doesn’t it always happen when you’re at your busiest?
When you should be powering through your work, you’re instead reduced to a crumpled sweaty coughing mess in a duvet; whining, whimpering and generally being the epitome of pathetic.
If you work for yourself one of the first things you probably think about is how much you miss sick days. Those days when someone else would be able to pick up some slack and you’d have a little extra work to do on your return, but everything would be okay.
If you’re a one man or woman band, you’ll know how vulnerable it can feel when you don’t have that infrastructure behind you. But like they say:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… and the same can be said for your business.
Here’s what I learned from my germ-infested rollercoaster of fun:
Rest goddamn you, rest.
For all the grief, criticism and fast food I’ve ever given my body, this stoic vessel continues to carry me round like a champion and makes few extreme demands.
As soon as I felt a bit better I threw myself into work, got all stressed at the time I’d had off and surprise surprise, found myself back in bed a lot worse.
Give in to your body if it wants to have a little lie down for cripes’ sake. Whilst you’re wailing about being pooooorly, your body’s got a good old fight of Bruce Lee proportion on its hands trying to get rid of whatever blighter has got into your system.
So get your fluids, chicken soup, magazines, ice cream, daytime TV, West Wing DVD, Coco Pops, Innocent Smoothies, fruit, nasal spray, tissues, lip balm, chocolate, crisps, Japanese takeaway, pork pies…
(This was just my list for the first two hours of feeling icky),
But don’t forget the “Rest”.
Don’t fight it – that’s your body’s job.
Look at what’s really important
It’s amazing what we fill our days up with till we’re busy to our back teeth. Losing a bit of time and coming back to work really makes you look at the tasks which will make or break your business (like meeting client deadlines) and what tasks just end up keeping us “busy” (checking and replying to emails / phone calls every half an hour)
Ask yourself if all the tasks on your work schedule, or the way you are spending your time at work is really pushing your business forward, or is it just using up your energy?
I mentioned before about the lack of infrastructure if you’re self-employed. Well if you’ve been unable to work for a period of time, why not think about building that infrastructure?
I managed to outsource some of my work for the week to another writer, and it worked well enough for me to decide to do this on a long-term basis. Not only does it mean that I can still meet my deadlines should I be unable to do the work myself, but it also means that I can begin taking on a lot more work for other clients.
Improve your work processes
I spend a lot of time at my desk, which I couldn’t do with muscle aches and pains. I definitely couldn’t think about typing anything and it made me realise how draining punching those keys can be. From a friend I’d heard about Dragon Naturally Speaking from Nuance, which is speech recognition software that should be able to type, surf the internet, compose and send emails in response to me telling it to.
That, to me, sounds like a dream, almost better than the one where Dolly Parton is my best friend.
I’m hoping it doesn’t take too long to train it to understand “Northern”.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been thinking about using these techniques for a while but being physically unable to work gave me enough of a boot up the bum to force myself to put these practices in place.
Hopefully you’ll find these of interest and can perhaps put something in place so that if you do get this bug that’s going around you can relax, not worry about work and happily wallow in self-pity watching Jeremy Kyle and eating ice cream.
That’s what being under the weather should be about.