How to Be Productive, Even When You’re Ill

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April 9th, 2009

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By Katie Wilson

There are some of us who hate to work and others who are absolute workaholics. And while the former will do anything to wriggle out of work, the latter abhor the very thought of a day without any. And so they come in to the office, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and spend as many hours as they can slogging and sweating it out. To them, the idea of a holiday is an anathema; they do not understand days off; and they certainly cannot stand the idea of idling around and not being productive.

But there are times when they must stay home, like when they’re ill and cannot function normally and efficiently at work. If you’re one of these workaholics who obsesses about going in to work and being productive even when you’re ill, when the mind is willing, but the flesh is weak, here’s what you can do to maintain your productivity:

•    Stay home and get enough rest: This is the first and most important thing that you must do. If you go in to work, you may think that you’re a hardy and brave individual who doesn’t let a silly illness get in the way of important business, but remember that you’re putting others at risk of catching what you have. If they fall sick, you make them less productive in the process. Besides, the sooner you rest your weary body, the faster you gather enough strength to be able to resume work in a day or two. If you worsen your condition, you may be laid up for a week or more, again, more unproductive days added to your count.

•    Work from home: Once you’re a little better, and if you’re able to handle work but are still contagious, you could try and run the show from home. Remember though, that you mustn’t tax yourself too much or you may end up worsening your condition.

•    Delegate: Some of the most efficient people I know are those who delegate. I know some of you think it’s a sin, one that’s unforgivable, but it’s one of the most productive things you could do. Your associates can handle the work much better than you can when you’re down and out for the count with the flu or any other illness. So delegate work, but make sure you find the right people to do so.

•    Behave normally when you do return: Once you return to work, don’t obsess about the fact that you’ve been away for a few days, don’t take your subordinates to task for any mistakes that have been made, and don’t be the maniacal superior who’s lost his finger on the pulse of things just because of a minor illness. Think of your time away as a long overdue vacation, and when you’re back, resume work with the passion that you normally exhibit instead of trying to find out all that went wrong in your absence. This way, you’re both improving your productivity and enhancing that of your coworkers as well.

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