7 Ways to Keep It Together With Work When You’re Sick

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Yesterday, I wrote about how to build and sustain momentum in your business. One of the worst things that can happen to cause you to lose momentum is getting sick. And the most frustrating part is, even if you take care of yourself and try to avoid illness, you don’t have complete control over the situation. As the seasons start to cool off here in the northern hemisphere (soon, I hope!), everyone starts to feel a little off. It may be just a sniffle, or it could be a full blown cold or even the flu. If you’re on the unfortunate end of the spectrum, what can you do when you’re smacked upside the head with a nasty cold that strips away all of the momentum you had working for you? Here are some ideas.

Ditch Your Task List

One of the worst things you can do when you’re sick is look at a long list of your responsibilities and know that there’s no way you’re going to be able to tackle them today. This results in added stress and anxiety that doesn’t get anything accomplished and can make you feel worse in the process. Pull out only the most urgent of your tasks and tuck the rest away until tomorrow.

Pick One and Push Through

From the short list of your most important priorities, pick one. Just one. It’s always much easier to face one important thing than a handful. Focus on the one most important task and ignore everything else until you’re finished. Then take a break and come back later if you feel up to it and pick one more. Breaking it down into small chunks can help you maximize the time you spend working and not get locked into a marathon work session.

Dumb It Down

If you don’t feel up to tackling anything major, but want to stay productive, it may be a good time to focus on the minor routine tasks on your list. Anything that doesn’t require a lot of thought or analysis is probably a good candidate for a light work day.

Keep Everyone in the Loop

As you’re modifying your work day to accommodate some extra rest, make sure you keep everyone who needs to know in the loop. This is especially important if deadlines will need to be adjusted or meetings rescheduled.

Pass It On

If there is a lot of work that needs to get done and you just feel like you can’t handle it, it’s a good time to call in reinforcements. Reach out to colleagues you have outsourced to, collaborated with, or even peers you’ve networked with socially. You may be surprised how willing your peers will be to jump in and lend a hand when you need it.

Institute Your Sick Day Plan

If you have a solid business continuity plan established, you probably already have a plan for handling sickness — a team to reach out to, a process for communicating with clients, a plan for making up lost time. If you don’t have a plan that covers minor emergencies, you may want to add this to your list to tackle once you’re well and fully back to work in preparation for the next time you get bit by the sick bug.

Call It a Day

Once you’ve completed your most important work, contacted everyone who needed an update and assigned the rest out, it’s time to get away from the computer. Pushing yourself to continue working when you’re sick rarely accomplishes anything except potentially making the illness linger or come back in a few days with a vengeance. Make sure you take time to get well. What do you do when you’re sick, but the show must go on? Image credit: Egahen

Frequently Asked Questions about Working When Sick

What are some tips to manage workload when I’m feeling unwell?

If you’re feeling unwell but still need to work, it’s important to prioritize your tasks. Focus on the most important tasks that need to be done and postpone less urgent ones. You can also delegate tasks to colleagues if possible. Remember to take regular breaks to rest and hydrate. It’s also beneficial to create a comfortable workspace, which could mean working from home if your employer allows it.

How can I prevent spreading my illness at work?

If you’re sick but still need to go to work, it’s crucial to prevent spreading your illness to others. Regular hand washing, using hand sanitizer, and avoiding close contact with others can help. If you have a respiratory illness, wearing a mask and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze can also prevent the spread of germs.

Should I inform my employer if I’m working while sick?

Yes, it’s important to inform your employer if you’re feeling unwell but still working. They may be able to provide accommodations or allow you to work from home. Transparency can also prevent misunderstandings about your productivity or performance.

How can I maintain my productivity when working while sick?

Maintaining productivity when you’re unwell can be challenging. It’s important to listen to your body and take breaks when needed. Staying hydrated and eating nutritious food can also help maintain your energy levels. If possible, try to eliminate distractions and create a comfortable workspace to help you focus.

What are some signs that I should take a sick day instead of working?

If you’re experiencing severe symptoms such as high fever, vomiting, or difficulty breathing, it’s best to take a sick day. If your illness is contagious, it’s also advisable to stay home to prevent spreading it to others. Remember, your health should always be your top priority.

How can I handle important meetings or presentations when I’m sick?

If you’re unwell but have important meetings or presentations, preparation is key. Prepare your materials in advance and practice your presentation to build confidence. If possible, ask a colleague to be on standby to step in if you’re unable to continue. Remember to take care of your health and don’t push yourself too hard.

How can I manage stress when working while sick?

Managing stress when you’re unwell is crucial. Try to maintain a positive mindset and focus on what you can control. Regular breaks, deep breathing exercises, and light physical activity such as stretching can also help reduce stress.

What are some ways to recover quickly from an illness while working?

To recover quickly from an illness, it’s important to take care of your health. This includes getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, staying hydrated, and taking prescribed medication if necessary. If possible, try to reduce your workload and stress levels.

How can I prevent getting sick when I’m already working long hours?

To prevent getting sick, it’s important to take care of your health. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and managing stress. Regular exercise and taking breaks during work can also boost your immune system.

What should I do if I’m feeling unwell but have a deadline to meet?

If you’re feeling unwell but have a deadline to meet, it’s important to communicate with your employer or clients. They may be able to extend the deadline or provide other accommodations. Remember to prioritize your health and don’t push yourself too hard.

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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