lealea's blogblog

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5 Comments // Filed in Business / Etc

Tis the Season for Sickness

I’m just on the tail end of a really nasty cold. I felt tinglings of it last Wednesday, then I turned into a fever-induced blob Thursday evening — and had to bow out on a night of theatre to boot — and then I became a walking stuffed nose. This made for a really irritable, sleepless weekend.

I won’t bore you with the more titilating details of my bout with the cold, but there was at least one major benefit to having to suffer through on a weekend: if you recover by the end of the weekend, you won’t have to reschedule anything with your clients or shuffle your projects to fit in recovery time.

Now, my general question to my freelance blogosphere friends is: how do you cope when your sicknes does fall in the middle of a workweek, and in the middle of projects? I’m a one-woman shop, so my first thought would be to reschedule deadlines if possible. If not, I would contract it out. Has this happened to some other people?

Do other shops have contingency plans for when you unavoidably can’t finish or work on a project because of personal or family illness, bereavement, or crisis? What’s the best way to handle it without:

  • alarming current clients
  • deflecting potential clients
  • losing quality of work
  • having to work while still in crisis mode

Is it even possible?

5 blabs to Tis the Season for Sickness

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Picture of AJ

Name AJ

Date Dec 14
01:44 PM

I’m right in the tail end of a vicious ear-nose-throat bug myself, and it struck during the workweek. I was reduced to a mere Christmas tree bulb in terms of mental wattage. I will say that colleagues and clients were understanding when I mentioned it. I have to say it was rather like an enforced break from the keyboard, and that it wasn’t entirely unwelcome. There is a tendency, in small or one-person shops, to overcompensate, to try to deliver superhuman results, and frankly we’re not superhuman. Weeks of worknights ending at 3am takes a physical toll. Our clients in regular corporate 9-5 jobs don’t think anything about taking a sick day, so – assuming the work gets done and the relationship with the client is good – why should freelancers be expected to suffer inordinately? Take a nap. Go to the doctor. Sleep. It’ll all still be there in the morning.

Picture of Lea

Name Lea

Date Dec 15
06:20 AM

AJ, you’re right, and I don’t mean to make it sound like one should work themselves on the ground, because I don’t believe that. This post was asking the questions for the potential of a project deadline that really is unavoidable. Though, realistically, I’m sure most projects and clients can accomodate a little delay.

Picture of aj

Name aj

Date Dec 15
03:08 PM

On that note, yeah, it is always a good idea to have a design intern, or at least a buddy who can take direction and finish something you’ve already started. From a larger point of view, think of it as building redundancy into the system so that there’s no single point of failure that can bring things crashing down. Cultivating relationships with other small design shops is pretty useful for that sort of thing, and of course when necessary, they can count on you as a pinch-hitter.

Take a day off on me!

My clients are generally pretty understanding, so I think they’d probably be amenable to shifting deadlines if I fell ill while in the middle of a project. Still, it’s very frustrating; a busy term has left me with no Christmas shopping done, and of course as soon as I came home, I got ill (currently I can’t even speak), so my hopes of getting people Christmas presents (and clearing my desk of work) are rapidly disappearing…

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