Surviving Life without Sick Days

We’re very big on celebrating the independent life at the $200KFreelancer. But, like every other career option, it has its downsides, too.

I was thinking about that recently when I caught the flu from my kids and ended up with a fever for six straight days. Like most other parents with young children, I generally don’t expect to lounge around in bed when I’m sick. I just keep taking care of them and working, the way I usually do, and hope the bug goes away quickly. But this time, I really found myself struggling.

I wound up putting off a few phone calls that weren’t time sensitive so I could save my energy for the projects that were due, but am still catching up on a few ongoing responsibilities where I’m a bit behind schedule. In the corporate world, I would have been able to take a day or two off (with pay) to regain my energy. Hypothetically, I could have told my freelance clients I was sick and needed to turn my work in late. But I didn’t want to let them down. I knew they had tight deadlines to meet.

What’s the best way to handle illness when you’re freelancing? I don’t know. Elizabeth and I chatted about this today, and she, too, keeps on plowing through work when she’s sick, too.

Maybe, as freelancers, we’ve got to accept that the trade-off for all of our freedom is having to accept that we’re on our own in certain ways.

In the meantime, I’m stocking up on hand sanitzer.





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1 comment

  1. admin

    I hadn’t taken a sick day for about 8 years when, a year-and-a-half ago around Christmas time, I came down with pneumonia. I’d been working too many hours to count, for a year or more, to establish a new web site. It took more than six weeks for me to come back: the lesson learned there was not so much about plowing through sick days — I still do that — but setting boundaries on the hours I work so that my body wasn’t too run down to bounce back.

    I have some arrangements with other freelancers that I can call on them during vacations and sicknesses — and they can call on me. But to be honest, those chits are rarely used. It would be nice to have a real, formal setup so that freelancers could take sick days when they need them.