How Do You Work From Home When Sick?

by Melanie Edwards on March 10, 2010 · 28 comments

in Wahm

Woman in Bed with Laptop

Photo by ugly banana from Flickr

What do you do on days when you’re not feeling great? If you’re a blogger, do you force yourself to post something that day even if you know it won’t be a great post? If you run a home business, do you put business on hold until you feel better? Or do you push through and work regardless of how you feel?

When I was working outside the home, I knew just what to do. It was easy. I’d just take a sick day and spend some quality time with my TV catching up on shows I’d been missing all week. Now that I work at home, I feel guilty if I take a “sick day.” If I don’t do something – write a post, check email, whatever it may be – I feel like I just wasted the day. I think the main reason is that I’m not getting paid for my “sick day” like I used to when I worked full-time. I know that if I’m not working, I’m not earning anything either.

So, how do you handle it? What do those of you that work from home do to ensure you don’t fall behind? Do you seek help? Do you just take a day or two off and deal with it when feeling better?

I did a quick search online to see what others have to say about this. However, most of the articles I came across were about how to get work done when your kid is sick. The suggestion for that? Reschedule, use a laptop to be more mobile, and work after the kids have gone to bed. And that makes sense, of course.

But, what about when you are too sick to think straight? There’s no rescheduling or shifting around that’s going to fix that problem. This article, There Are No Family Sick Days for Freelancing Moms, touches on free time for those that work from home as freelancers, but doesn’t offer any solutions either.

I’m looking to you now. I know that many of you have a home-based business, freelance, and work at home as bloggers. And, you’ve been doing it far longer than I have. Tell me, how do you keep business going when you’re sick?

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 pchanner March 10, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I can't help you much there. I would be the one to have at least one sick day a week if I was working at home. But I know what you mean. I think you have to be real to yourself and remember that although we are super great moms, works etc. we are not super women. Taking a day off to just relax and play is one thing, but to rejuvenate and heal your body is another. There's no point in trying to work through it because the products and fruits of your labor will only be half what it could have been if you relaxed and focused on getting better.

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2 modernmami March 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm

All true. So, do you think it's ok to let the blog go blank for that day or two until you can get better?

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3 Rebecca March 12, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Why not have a few blogs saved as drafts, just 250 words on a generic topic or such, to use if you're concerned about letting a blog sit for a day. Even if you're feeling horribly, you can just hit Publish on one of the drafts and something goes live while you're enjoying some time off. Just remember to type up a new “emergency blog” for the one you used on your sick day.

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4 modernmami March 12, 2010 at 10:35 pm

That's a good idea. Now I have a new item on my to-do list for next week! heh But, really, it's a smart idea. Thanks.

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5 BusyMommaVal March 11, 2010 at 9:56 am

It depends on how bad I am feeling. If it's just a little or medium bleh, then I try to suck it up and move as much as possible to a different day. I'll expect that my work will take twice as long to accomplish and I try hard to not beat myself up that things take twice as long to finish.

But a couple of weeks ago I was down and out for the count. I slept for most of 30 hours and the next day when I did get up I wasn't very productive. Luckily it was the weekend and I try not to schedule too much work on the weekend. But I didn't have any choice and definitely didn't have any guilt about having to contact a couple of clients later.

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6 modernmami March 12, 2010 at 10:08 pm

I tend to do the same. But, like you, I've noticed it takes me extra long to do things I'd normally do faster if I was up to par.

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7 Rebecca March 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

I've been fortunate to have understanding clients and a pretty hardy immune system. Thanks to my tough stock I don't have many problems working from home, even just a bit, when I'm sick. I'd have to be hospitalized to not be able to crank out a simple email at least, and considering I was emailing a few hours after my second delivery, probably not even then.

That being said, even when I'm vomiting and feeling near death, I'm still on duty as Mom so I might as well still be on duty as a writer. Usually though I know I won't produce much of value, so I'll send out a quick message – usually IM or perhaps email to all of my standing clients letting them know I'm on the brink of death and don't want to damage their projects with my slightly delusional thinking. If I'm coherent enough, I'll give them an idea of when I'll be back on track. I've never had one that wasn't understanding. So in this regard, rescheduling is absolutely your best option regardless of whether you need a personal or family sick day.

I also make it a point to let clients know *before* a missed deadline that something is amiss. I think it's far more important to communicate about potentially missed deadlines ahead of time than make amends after the fact – it's simply more professional and courteous. I'd find it hard to believe that sending a quick message before tanking out on the couch or after you've already tanked out is challenging with laptops and smart phones.

If you made it this far in this epic comment I'll summarize.

1. Feel sick and near death.
2. Send one sentence IM or email to clients who are affected by you taking the day(s) off.
3. Jot down list of projects to reschedule after some recovery.
4. Lay down on the couch and turn on Noggin.
5. Watch kids out of one eye while trying not to move and vomit again.

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8 modernmami March 12, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Love your epic comment! And, I appreciate the summary. ;) I agree that it's best to let them know ahead of time rather than later.

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9 Chris March 12, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I've been doing this for 11 years. Some days I just say “I'm sick and work can wait”, but we all know the reality of that. With no benefits like sick days..now work = no $$. I've found over the years that automation helps quite a bit. A simple thing as creating “canned” responses to email, except I personalize it a bit by adding names etc.. helps in the time it takes to respond to emails.

I also try to be “ahead” with my work, so days that I'm not 100% or feel like taking an unscheduled break, I can.

Great Topic.

regards

Chris

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10 modernmami March 12, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Great advice. I just need to get on it and actually work on getting myself “ahead”. Thanks for the tips!

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11 modernmami March 13, 2010 at 4:06 am

All true. So, do you think it’s ok to let the blog go blank for that day or two until you can get better?

Reply

12 modernmami March 13, 2010 at 4:06 am

All true. So, do you think it’s ok to let the blog go blank for that day or two until you can get better?

Reply

13 modernmami March 12, 2010 at 11:06 pm

All true. So, do you think it's ok to let the blog go blank for that day or two until you can get better?

Reply

14 modernmami March 13, 2010 at 4:08 am

I tend to do the same. But, like you, I’ve noticed it takes me extra long to do things I’d normally do faster if I was up to par.

Reply

15 modernmami March 13, 2010 at 4:08 am

I tend to do the same. But, like you, I’ve noticed it takes me extra long to do things I’d normally do faster if I was up to par.

Reply

16 modernmami March 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm

I tend to do the same. But, like you, I've noticed it takes me extra long to do things I'd normally do faster if I was up to par.

Reply

17 Rebecca March 13, 2010 at 4:26 am

Why not have a few blogs saved as drafts, just 250 words on a generic topic or such, to use if you’re concerned about letting a blog sit for a day. Even if you’re feeling horribly, you can just hit Publish on one of the drafts and something goes live while you’re enjoying some time off. Just remember to type up a new “emergency blog” for the one you used on your sick day.

Reply

18 Rebecca March 13, 2010 at 4:26 am

Why not have a few blogs saved as drafts, just 250 words on a generic topic or such, to use if you’re concerned about letting a blog sit for a day. Even if you’re feeling horribly, you can just hit Publish on one of the drafts and something goes live while you’re enjoying some time off. Just remember to type up a new “emergency blog” for the one you used on your sick day.

Reply

19 Rebecca March 12, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Why not have a few blogs saved as drafts, just 250 words on a generic topic or such, to use if you're concerned about letting a blog sit for a day. Even if you're feeling horribly, you can just hit Publish on one of the drafts and something goes live while you're enjoying some time off. Just remember to type up a new “emergency blog” for the one you used on your sick day.

Reply

20 modernmami March 13, 2010 at 4:35 am

That’s a good idea. Now I have a new item on my to-do list for next week! heh But, really, it’s a smart idea. Thanks.

Reply

21 modernmami March 13, 2010 at 4:35 am

That’s a good idea. Now I have a new item on my to-do list for next week! heh But, really, it’s a smart idea. Thanks.

Reply

22 modernmami March 12, 2010 at 11:35 pm

That's a good idea. Now I have a new item on my to-do list for next week! heh But, really, it's a smart idea. Thanks.

Reply

23 modernmami March 13, 2010 at 4:39 am

Love your epic comment! And, I appreciate the summary. ;) I agree that it’s best to let them know ahead of time rather than later.

Reply

24 modernmami March 13, 2010 at 4:39 am

Love your epic comment! And, I appreciate the summary. ;) I agree that it’s best to let them know ahead of time rather than later.

Reply

25 modernmami March 12, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Love your epic comment! And, I appreciate the summary. ;) I agree that it's best to let them know ahead of time rather than later.

Reply

26 modernmami March 13, 2010 at 4:44 am

Great advice. I just need to get on it and actually work on getting myself “ahead”. Thanks for the tips!

Reply

27 modernmami March 13, 2010 at 4:44 am

Great advice. I just need to get on it and actually work on getting myself “ahead”. Thanks for the tips!

Reply

28 modernmami March 12, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Great advice. I just need to get on it and actually work on getting myself “ahead”. Thanks for the tips!

Reply

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