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How do you handle illness? March 9, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

The Freelance Folder published a very timely blog post yesterday called How to Tell When It’s Time to Take a Break. I just got back from a week in Florida. What was originally intended to be an active vacation turned out to be a working vacation. I went to the Keys with my mother, who has been suffering from a health issue. That combined with the fact that the weather was abnormally cold meant I agreed to take on translation work while down there. However, the abnormally cold temperatures made me sick… and have forced me to take the last two days off. I have spent the last two days sleeping and avoiding the computer. I have a couple translations to work on, so I will most likely be back at the computer tomorrow. I was curious how most of you handle illness. The Freelance Folder contends you do everyone a favor when you take time off when you are sick because the quality of your work suffers. I was talking to a friend who is also a freelancer (albeit a lawyer with her own practice), and she was telling me I am too hard on myself and that I needed to tell my clients I was sick and get an extension. I am rarely sick, so it is quite a strange concept for me. I would love to hear what you all have to say on the subject. Do you tough it out or do you listen to your body and take time off?



1. Kitty - March 10, 2010

I recently discovered that the clients are actually human and do understand that a freelancer gets sick as well and some even extended the deadlines to more than I dared to ask.

2. inkamaria - March 10, 2010

Well, you should always listen to your body, especially when it’s ailing. I have heard of colleagues who had to take some time out (we are talking about six months to a year) because they went thru some burnout and worse. I am sure, any client will understand when you call in sick and ask for an extension.

3. Janine - March 10, 2010

I agree with Kitty and inkamaria. Sometimes there is some wiggle room in a project or the time can be made up in another part of the project. I was asked recently to work over the weekend on the editing of a Spanish translation and I was happy to do so. The translation was behind schedule because the translator had a family emergency, something most people can commiserate with.

4. Tess - March 10, 2010

It totally depends on how sick I am. I usually try to tough it out if I just have a cold and a bit of a fever, but sometimes the actual disease forces me to stay in bed (i.e. stomach flu, regular flu). The clients are usually very understanding. I agree with inkarmaria. Just listen to your body. Get well soon!

5. Michael - March 10, 2010

Listen to your body – and get well soon.

6. Daniel - March 12, 2010

At the beginning of February, I was working on a large and very interesting project for a new client, and unfortunately had to stop in the middle due to becoming very ill. I’m glad I did, since I ended up being diagnosed with a chronic disease and having to be hospitalized for three weeks. Thankfully, the client was very understanding and there were no problems.

Good health is precious—preserve it and/or restore it at all costs!

Hope you feel better 🙂

7. Oleg Kuzin - March 15, 2010

Looking after one’s health is definitely the responsibility of the freelancer as he/she is both boss and employee. Most clients do have to deal with employee sickness and should not be surprised if “their” translator gets sick occasionally. The freelancer as an “employer” has the responsibility to ensure that the sick person is looked after and helped to get better soon. As a matter of interest, the Quebec professional translators association (OTTIAQ) has a plan for its members that covers mental health and counselling. Large multinational companies have similar programmes.

8. Corinne McKay - March 16, 2010

Good question! I’ll admit that normally I just tough it out and work even when I’m sick; I just try to limit the new work I take on and I exercise the option to work on my laptop in bed. A few years ago I had pneumonia and was so sick that I couldn’t even sit up; at that point I had my husband send an e-mail to my clients and explain the situation to them since I had to take 7-10 days off working. Normally I just find it easier to power through the pending deadlines and then give myself a couple of days to recover with no work.

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