How to Call in Sick When You Work for Yourself

How to Call in Sick When You Work for Yourself

While there are many things I like about fall, the September/October cold that has graced me with its presence every year since high school is not one of them. Despite my best efforts to thwart its arrival this year, I awoke on Monday morning with a head cold. In the past this malady might have resulted in a not-so-productive day in the office, but now that I am working full-time as a blogger my daily writing schedule is part of the job.

My week began with the following thoughts going through my head:

Me: I’m sick. I need to rest and stay in bed.
Boss V: You can stay in bed and still be productive.
Me: I need a sick day.
Boss V: There are no sick days when you work for yourself.
Me: Fine…but I’m not getting out of my pajamas!

So what do you do when you are under the weather but still need to stick to your to-do’s?

1. Don’t set the alarm: Unless you have a looming deadline, chances are that you will be much more productive with a little extra sleep under your belt. The nice part about working for yourself is that you can set your own hours, so if you wake up a little later find time in the afternoon or evening to make it up.

2. Create a new workspace: While my home office has offered me a sense of stability and allows me to be productive, I’ve found that when I’m sick there is nothing better than staying in bed and working from my iPad. This may not suit everyone, but it allows me the convenience of working for a bit and then resting when my body feels tired — without much additional effort. Your body will feel more rested and ready to combat the cold when it’s lying horizontal rather than sitting or standing. Believe me — your body knows and feels the difference. Plus, you kind of feel like you are taking an actual sick day because most of the day was spent resting in bed!

3. Set time limits and take breaks: I let how I’m feeling determine if I’m going to work more or give my eyes a rest from the screen. Generally, I like to work in the morning, have lunch, and then take a rest in the afternoon.

4. Cut yourself some slack: The best way to get back to feeling like yourself is with lots of rest. Don’t worry about what you didn’t get done today. Taking care of yourself should be a priority when you aren’t well. Do what you can, but don’t push yourself to cross every item off of your to-do list!

5. Get a good night’s rest: Aside from drinking lots of tea and loading yourself up on zinc and vitamin C, getting in a solid eight hours of sleep (if not more!) can help you feel better in the morning. Try going to bed at 10:00 pm, even if your normal bedtime is at 11:00 pm (and refrain from spending your night checking emails or scrolling through social media). Your body expends valuable energy just fighting fatigue if you stay up later, instead of battling the cold. Getting to bed early is part of the pampering you need to treat yourself to while you are sick. The more things you do to help your body, the sooner you will feel better and be more productive.

It looks like I have another day or two of blogging from bed in my future. But I would love to hear how you stay productive when you’re sick and working from home. Do you have any tips?



    1. I agree! Sometimes it feels wrong to sleep in when you have so many things on your to-do list, but it’s really important for your road to recovery. Hope you’re having a great week!

  1. You kind of touched on it but drinking LOTS of tea and water is something I make sure to do every time I’m feeling under the weather. Staying hydrated is so important to help your body do it’s thing when it’s fighting off sickness.

    I also always try to do something non-electronic and calming…like reading a book, flipping through a magazine, or simply dragging a chair to the sunny spot in the yard and just sitting there, sipping tea and breathing in the fresh air. A lot of times our ‘relax’ things involve computer monitors, phones, tv screens, etc and it’s so taxing on our eyes and brains to stare at all day.

    I hope you get to feeling better soon!
    xx, Tristan || Gold Lion Style

  2. Wow, such a great post, Vanessa! I really needed to read this because I’m one who’s guilty of being too hard on myself with work, I’ve always been that way, even with school when I was younger. I agree with the first tip about getting extra sleep. This is definitely important when you don’t feel well, it can make a world of a difference.

    I hope you have a wonderful day, beautiful!



    1. Thanks, Jalisa! Sleep is so important when you aren’t feeling well. I seem to have a hard time putting the iPad down once I start working, so I keep reminding myself that I need to take breaks and rest. Hope you’re having a great week!

  3. Working from home is a luxury not all freelancers enjoy. But the same rules apply: if there’s a deadline looming, unless the requisite body parts are broken – you suck it up and get it done. I once had to finish a photo gig after I fell off my horse and had a fractured spine. The reality is that if you can’t deliver, the client may find someone who can. But if you can find some down time, TAKE IT! Crawl in bed and stay there until you heal!! Deadlines are funny creatures: some can be soft, some can be hard. As a professional, it’s up to you to distinguish between them and act accordingly.

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