How to be productive when you are ill

By Laura @ IWMLB Project | Help! I'm so burnt out

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Mar 09

Your to-list is bulging, you know you need to get going on it, but you have the motivation of drugged sloth. Your head is pounding and your brain feels like a toasted marshmallow. How on earth can you be productive when you are ill?

We’ve all been there. You’re on a roll with your business, you’re smashing through your day like a boss. You’re winning at everything!

And then SLAM. It hits you like a germy juggernaut.

You curse your immune system as you crawl into bed with an arsenal of over-the-counter medicine. ‘Why oh why did this have to happen now?!’ you wail. ‘I was doing so well and I have so much still to do!’.

But no amount of Lemsip is going to cure this sucker. So what do you do? 

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8 ways to be productive when you are ill

  1. Isolate the critical tasks

If your task list is as long as your arm, there are definitely things on there that aren’t urgent.

Be realistic, will not world collapse if you miss a couple of social media posts, or you haven’t re-written some sales copy.

Isolate the critical tasks and move the rest ahead a few days in your calendar.

how to be productive when you are ill #businesstips #productivitytips #iwmlbproject

  1. Allow yourself to rest

Everybody gets ill sometimes and you are no exception. The quickest way to get better is to rest, this is not a sign of weakness, but a normal part of recovery.

If you binge watch some Netflix, it doesn’t mean your productivity will be ruined for ever. Once you are back on your feet you be a task ninja again and never ever speak about watching 13 back-to-back episodes of Jane The Virgin.

Just a side note: If you have client deadlines, this may not be a possibility.

Could you ask for a deadline extension (potentially do-able if you originally suggested the end date) or outsource some of the work to someone else?

If you can’t do either of these, then as a last resort you could pass the work onto to another business, although you will lose the business yourself, at least you won’t have let the client down.

how to be productive when you are ill #businesstips #productivitytips #iwmlbproject

  1. Plan, automate and systemize

It’s a good idea to get some things done in advance so you don’t get caught out when your brain feels like mush.

Customers won’t notice that you have been absent from your laptop if you have a good system in place.

If you have a blog

Can you write an extra post a week/month and save in draft? Or can you get yourself a few weeks ahead so that you have content to go out even if you don’t feel like writing that week?

If you have an e-commerce site

Can you get your orders fulfilled by someone else? If you sell on Amazon then their FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) service can do this for you.

If you have Etsy shop

Can you have a few products made up for each item you sell so that you don’t have to make ‘on demand’?.

Obviously, you may not be able to systemize everything, but the fewer decisions you have to make when you are ill, the better.

The more planned you are in your day-to-day business life, the less you will be derailed by a few days off.

how to be productive when you are ill #businesstips #productivitytips #iwmlbproject

  1. Feed yourself well

Now I am going to sound like Captain Bloody Obvious here but, the quickest way to get well is to eat fresh fruit, veg and anything full of vitamins etc to get you back on the road to recovery.

Also, make sure you stay hydrated – it is really important to keep drinking fluids, especially if you have some kind of sickness bug.

Ok, that’s enough of the ‘eat your greens’.

how to be productive when you are ill #businesstips #productivitytips #iwmlbproject

  1. Laugh

Slightly random this one, but have a good laugh at someone can lift your spirits and make you feel a bit less like death.

I have a ridiculous sense of humour and nearly died laughing at a recent twitter feed. 

Twitter tweet of verbal mix ups for blog post how to work on your business when you don't feel well

The feed is here if you want to read it, I was howling. My partner, however, was not. Not everyone has the same sense of humour so if you need to find something else to make you laugh, I won’t be offended 😉

Watching comedy movies is also a good one when you are laid up in bed. Or cat pictures, whatever floats your funny boat.

  1. Use your best hours

Don’t try and force yourself to be ‘business as usual’ as you won’t be fooling anyone and will just end up feeling worse.

When you really need to do some tasks, then use your most productive time.

If you are at your best as soon as you wake up (after some caffeinated assistance), then get what you need to do done then. If you are a dribbling mess by 2 pm then at least you won’t feel so guilty about face planting the sofa for a medicinal snooze.

Evening person? Rest guilt-free in the day, knowing you will get a few bits done later.

how to be productive when you are ill #businesstips #productivitytips #iwmlbproject

  1. Do some easy tasks

Do low energy tasks such as reading, social media, listening to podcasts. You’ll still feel like you are doing something but it isn’t going to overexert you and make you feel worse.

Or, you could focus on the niggly little things on your website or in your business that need fixing, maybe just pick one or two easy ones and do those for some instant gratification.

Shorter tasks will require less energy and you can take some proper breaks inbetween.

how to be productive when you are ill #businesstips #productivitytips #iwmlbproject

  1. Reward yourself

Nothing like the old carrot and stick to get yourself back in the game. If you promise yourself a reward when you have finished a job, you are more likely to sit down and do it.

You know what you like to do so choose something that will motivate you.

For me it is things like reading posts from my favourite bloggers, watching an episode from a Netflix series or making a cup of tea.

Anything really that will encourage you to sit down and get working for a while.

how to be productive when you are ill #businesstips #productivitytips #iwmlbproject

And finally,

It’s never easy when you are feeling under the weather. It’s so frustrating when you want to get on with it but your body just won’t let you!

I truly believe that when you are ill, your body is telling you something. Maybe you’ve been burning the candle at both ends or perhaps you haven’t been feeding yourself with good, nurtritious foods (damn you Deliveroo).

So, it’s time to down tools and look after yourself.

You can still be productive using the tips above, but really the best medicine would be to do nothing at all.

The productivity police are not going to arrest you if you take a couple of days off.

How do you stay productive when you aren’t feeling 100%?

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About the Author

Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)