How to Stay Productive When You’re Sick

Projects. Deadlines. Meetings. The list goes on and on. It amazes me how many Americans work hours of overtime, lose out on much-needed sleep, and push their bodies and minds to the limit. But sooner or later, it catches up with you.

Whether you work at an advertising agency like I do or you’re a small business owner, getting sick during a major project or before a deadline that can’t be pushed back can feel like the end of the world. Let’s face it, when you have a headache or fever or your body just aches, all you want to do is curl up in bed and tune out. I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that supports a Results-Only Work Environment, so I have the ability to take a nap, recharge and push on through in those situations.

But if you don’t have that option and you need to stay productive while dealing with a nasty cold or the flu, here are some tips to help you get better while you deal with your workload.

Take A Day (Or a Few Hours) Off

I know this sounds crazy and it’s probably not your first option, but you may be so sick that you really don’t have much of a choice. You need to rest and take it easy. Not only will you be back up and running sooner, you’ll also prevent yourself from making mistakes at work.

Take Your Medicines

Drinking orange juice, plenty of water, taking your vitamins and over the counter medicines are all important if you want to recover quickly. When you do these things, you’re better prepared to keep working on the important projects. Just beware of some over the counter pills that may cause drowsiness. Other things you can do to make yourself feel better are taking hot showers and applying hot or cold compresses to your skin.

Work In Time Chunks

Putting in an eight-hour day will be tough, but if you work in short bursts and take frequent breaks to give your body and mind a break, you can keep your energy levels up and stay focused on the tasks at hand. A good time management ratio is 25:5 – work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. There are plenty of apps available to remind you to take breaks while you’re working. When you’re feeling under the weather, this allows you to rest but also gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Don’t Spread Germs

If you can do your work from home, do it. Isolating yourself from co-workers ensures that you won’t hurt the team by spreading your sickness to them. If that’s not an option, at least keep away from others as much as possible – they’ll be grateful not to catch whatever you have.

If you remember nothing else, a good rule of thumb is “don’t overdo it.” The above tips are meant to help you get important things done while you’re sick, not to encourage you to stretch yourself beyond your limits. Once your major projects and work are done, take it easy and get as much rest as you need to get back to 100%.

How do you maximize your productive time when you’re sick? Let us know in the comments!

Meg Lerma,

Outreach & New Media Assistant