Work on Hold – Sort Of
Okay, I’ll admit it. My wrist is swollen and I’m still typing. Of course, a deadline is a deadline, and I’m not one to miss them.
It all started last week when I took a break from writing to paint the trim in my house. After tackling a doorway per week, I decided to go for the gusto and complete a hallway’s worth of doorways in a mere six hours. I ignored the pain. Two days later, I broke out the ice. Then the bandage. Then I stopped working altogether for a few days.
While I was lucky to be able to take time off because my workload permitted it, I have to tell you that I wasn’t always so in tune with my body. I used to push myself hard until a project was done. But I’d crash really hard.
Even though I took a break this weekend, this aching wrist is a reminder that I need to take care of myself in the midst of an injury. And as a self-employed writer—and a self-defined workaholic—that’s kind of hard to do.
It’s easy to take a break when you’ve got a few hours of down time during the day, or when you have a vacation schedule. It’s not so simple to do so when you want to work but can’t. When you have to do nothing. Oh, the dreaded doing of nothing at all!
So I’m bringing you some tips to help you cope with the times when you have to take some time off, and may have to work during a trial. Whether it’s a family emergency, a stubborn cold or even a busted up wrist, there comes times during this self-employment journey when you have to be the one to pace yourself before your body really retaliates.
Prioritize Your Workload. If you’re sick or injured, or need to take time off for another reason, it’s best to try to prioritize your workload so you can afford the time off. It’s not horrible to speak to a client about postponing a project, but I wouldn’t make a habit of it.
Make a Vacation. Take that prioritizing one step further and clear your schedule for a few days so you can attend to yourself or a crisis situation. Have client contact information handy so you can make a quick call should you need to.
Build in Time. I’m big on giving myself enough time to complete a project so if something comes up, I can still get it done. This is why I don’t procrastinate—something always comes up so it’s best to get things done while you can.
Take Small Breaks. Sick? Luckily for you, you can probably squeeze out a few work bursts and then zonk back out on NyQuil. If you work on a laptop, no one says you can’t take it to bed with you. But do take some breaks.
Kristen Fischer is a freelance writer living in New Jersey. Her first book, Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs is available at www.creativelyselfemployed.com