How to Survive Sick Days as a Freelance Writer

If there’s one thing I miss about working in a corporate setting, it’s getting sick days with pay. With paid sick days, I can just stay in bed and sleep off whatever is bothering my body. I can still count on having a paycheck at the end of the month.

Alas, freelance writers don’t get paid sick days. It’s either they work or they don’t get paid.

I’ve been freelancing for a long while now, and I still haven’t found the best solution to this dilemma. When you’ve got anxious clients and pressing deadlines and all you want to do is sleep, do you really have a choice?

Sometimes you don’t. But there are ways to get around it if you really feel that you’re too sick to work on your freelance projects.

You can tell your clients you’re too sick to work on your freelance projects and ask for deadline extensions.

Some clients won’t mind giving you a few more days to recover and finish your projects. However, this will work only if you’ve been working with the client for a while now and have developed a comfortable relationship with them.

Most clients don’t care, though. All they care about is the work you promised to deliver on a certain date. So you have to choose carefully when to pull the sick card on your clients and on which clients you’re going to play that card.

Prioritizing tasks becomes even more important when you’re sick.

When you’re sick, you have very little energy to devote to work. Your body will be fighting you all the way. And if you’re taking medicine, especially medicine for colds and cough, you probably have to deal with the mental haze and the drowsiness these meds can put you on.

This is when you need to set your priorities straighter than you’ve ever set them before. Just focus on the most time-sensitive tasks you have ahead of you. If the other tasks can wait, then let them wait until you feel well enough to take care of them.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

As a rule, freelancers value their freedom and independence. That’s why they went into freelancing in the first place. However, sometimes the importance they have set on being independent hinders them from asking for help when they need it the most.

If you’re too sick to manage everything on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There must be some chores you can safely delegate to your kids or your spouse. If you live alone, you should ask a relative, a friend or even a neighbor to look in on you every once in a while.

Just give in to what your body wants to do.

When you’re sick, the last thing your body wants to do is work. Your body will fight you all the way to get the rest and sleep it needs. When the need to rest becomes too overwhelming, just give in and don’t fight it. It’s nearly impossible to produce high-quality work when you’re too sick to do it, anyway. Let your body get the rest it wants. The sooner you get well, the sooner you’ll be able to make up for the time you lost while you’re sick.

What do you do when you feel you’re too sick to get any freelance work done? Please share your tips for working freelance while you’re sick in the comments.

Image: David Castillo Dominici | FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Anna Sibal-Gonzaga is a freelance writer based in the Philippines. She likes reading books and watching movies and TV shows in the sci-fi, fantasy and historical genres. She is also a casual gamer and an all-around nerd.

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