Even Freelancers Get Sick
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Even Freelancers Get Sick

Deborah Henry-Pollard blog on Catching Fireworks about freelancing and sick days


This week, I was going to write about how much I enjoyed the Women of the World conference at the South Bank Centre on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I was going to be speed mentoring and then getting inspired by the wealth of amazing speakers over the three days.

Then late on Thursday night, I started to feel unwell and subsequently spent seven days up to my eyeballs in some flu type lurgi.

But surely I can’t get ill, because I am a freelancer?  We don’t get sick pay.  If we don’t work, our whole professional system falls apart.  Our clients will hate us.  We have to be indestructible, impervious to germs caught from little kiddies or unhealthy contacts.

But if you are not well enough to work, or you are full of germs which frankly no one else wants, why push yourself?  Sometimes it is just practical and sensible to stop and take care of yourself, rather than carry on like a hero and prolong the illness.

I am not someone who naturally succumbs to illness.  I’ve always been the type that puts on a bit more slap and a big grin and says, “No, really, I’m fine”, whilst carrying bundles of tissues and industrial sized packets of Strepsils.  But this time, it wasn’t an option.

I emailed the South Bank to take me off the speed mentoring list.  I contacted coaching clients, apologised and rescheduled meetings.  I contacted a project management client, explained that we were ahead on all the work I was doing and had room for a couple of days delay.

No-one took offence.  On the contrary, all sent me good wishes for a speedy recovery.  One nearby client offered to pop in with milk and Lemsips.  All trusted me to be as professional in dealing with my temporary ill health as I have been in all my other dealings with them.

Most of us will have times when we get hit with a rampant virus and need to take a few days out.  You can plan for these times by building a good, professional reputation for yourself and making sure that you keep ahead of deadlines, adding in a couple of extra days on the delivery date in case of such emergencies.

The world will not come to an end as a freelancer if you need to take a day off sick, as long as you keep clients informed.  Then you can come back better than ever.

As for me, I am catching up with Women of the World online!


I'm mostly not ill so if you are interested in coaching, contact me to book a Light the Blue Touchpaper session.

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