How to chuck a sickie when you're self employed


By Jes Egan

Taking a sickie when you are running your own small business can be a very hard thing to do, with too much to do and no-one other than yourself or a few employees to pick up the slack. Sometimes it’s harder to accept illness and take a day to recover than it is to just keep on going and to put your health on the back burner.

When you are running a small creative business you are often doing a bit of everything, if not everything and having a day off sick can mean that things don’t get done on time or get done at all and this can lead to a loss of income, unhappy clients, delays etc. But sometimes an illness or bug will just stop you in your tracks.

Don’t feel guilty about taking a day to look after yourself, to be able to continue your business running you need to be fighting fit. And to do this sometimes it means you have to spend a day or two in bed, doing nothing, other than resting and recovering.

Here are a few of my tips on how to manage such days when they come around:

Write a list

Write down all the things you were planning on getting done that day, the little things plus the big things. Put it all down on paper or online so that it is out of your head.


Look at that list and prioritise it: is there anything that absolutely has to be done this day? If so, is it something that can be done from your bed or couch? Move all other non-vital tasks to the next day or later that week.


If you have the option to delegate anything from that list then do so. Getting help where you can is really important to reduce your workload on these sick days. If you need to deliver, pick up, place an order etc then ask a friend or relative if they could help you out with that task.

Do it early

If you have to do something that can’t wait and that no-one can help you with, then do it early in the day so you can rest and not worry for the rest of the day. Get it over and done with so it isn’t weighing on your mind.

Manage expectations

If there is a knock-on delay for delivery from you taking a day or so, send a few emails and let people know that this is coming. Manage their expectations so when you are back you have less work to tidy up. It will also stop people chasing you up and hopefully stop any anxiety you may have about the delay. If you are a heavy email user, put your out of office message on, if it is an option. Once you have done what you need, turn your emails or phone off and try to rest fully without distraction.

Don’t feel guilty

Taking time out to look after yourself can be easier said than done - try not to feel guilty or worry about it. Stress doesn’t encourage recovery!

Taking time out and not continuing on is sometimes not an option, but either is looking after yourself. So where you can reduce the workload when you’re sick and take a day to focus on you, because without you there is no creative business.

Jes is a ‘practical creative’ and a very busy lady, doing the business in a digital agency, being an artist and an university lecturer. Follow Jes on Instagram.