It’s that time of year again – flu season – and it’s taking out even the most determined of us.
As an entrepreneur, you may not have the luxury of simply “calling in sick” and sleeping through the rest of day like your employed counterparts. Instead, for many of us solopreneurs, the business goes on – with or without us.
I ended up succumbing to the dreaded flu, and you know what? My business wasn’t prepared. In fact, all h*ll broke loose. While I was in the process of diligently automating the majority of my operation, such undertakings were only halfway completed, and we were right in the middle of a new course launch and a book project. Eck. It was bad.
My flu experience brought to light many areas of my business operation that needed innovation, but it also presented the question: What’s an entrepreneur to do when they feel like sh*t and need to take a sick day?
Let’s find out…
Take Time Off
Before we dive into the how’s and how-to’s manage your sick days, let’s chat about actually taking time off. I’m not talking about laying in bed with your laptop, coughing up the croup while you try to hold client meetings virtually – I mean actually “calling in sick” and taking the day off, shutting off all work communications and duties, and focusing on your recovery.
Can you do it? Should you do it?
Yes, and yes – as an entrepreneur you can take sick days off and you should take sick days off. Without you, what’s your business? Keeping yourself healthy – and getting yourself healthy following a bug – is key for your business’ future. If you don’t take time off when you start to get a cough, you’ll pay for it later with walking pneumonia and a hospital stay. Don’t be that stubborn mule of an entrepreneur (trust me – it’s not fun).
Sick Day Policy
Before you get down with an unexpected illness, develop an actionable sick day plan for coordinating your business when you need to take leave. Maybe it’s extending online sale turnaround time, or sending a mass e-mail notifying your clients of unexpected time away. Think about what a sick day, or two, or three means for your operation, and strategize a step-by-step list of to-do’s so you can get the R&R you need to recover.
Consider sharing your sick day action plan with an available friend or family member that can take care of these actions for you when you’re laid up in the ER or losing consciousness thanks to some way too good cough syrup. I keep an updated listing of my current clients’ e-mails in Excel along with a prewritten notice for my husband to forward, along with an update for my automatic e-mail responder so no one’s left flapping in the wind.
Schedule Some Leave
While few of us can schedule when we get sick or how long it lasts, we can pad our monthly calendar with two or three “free days” that can provide some serious cushion for the recovering entrepreneur that needs to reschedule. By reserving some free time within your monthly to-do lists, you can help prevent that post-sick “crunch” that tends to build up unhelpful tension within your already busy work calendar. Once you return from your sick leave, you can easily rework your work schedule thanks to the flexibility of your built-in leave days.
Don’t get sick one month? Take those free days for yourself – sleep in, take a hike, enjoy a spa day – and do whatever you like. By relaxing and recharging preemptively, we can boost our immune system and possibly prevent future illnesses.
Everyone gets sick, including entrepreneurs.
While we can’t prevent all sick days, we can proactively prepare for it.
Don’t be afraid or “feel guilty” to take time off as you must take care of yourself, structure an actionable sick day policy that can easily be put in place, and add leave time within your monthly calendar on a regular basis.
How do you handle sick days within your business?
Share your strategies in the comments below!