Welcome to the blog! This week I take a break from scheduled programming to discuss my lengthy absence from the blogging scene.

Where have I been?!

Many of you were baffled when I dropped off the face of the Earth in May last year.

The blog stopped.

The newsletter stopped.

Social media stopped.

 

And now I can tell you why.

In May 2015, I was landed with a very nasty kidney infection.

The words ‘severe’, ‘hospitalisation’ and ‘kidney damage’ were mentioned. I saw countless doctors and took six rounds of antibiotics – one for each month of being sick.

None worked.

Incredibly, I’m still being treated now, both for the original illness and complications, but am thankfully feeling much better!

My health has had to come first, so I’ve been very quiet… but now I’m beginning to finally recover, you’ll hopefully be seeing a lot more of me!

 

Lessons learned

The past six or seven months brought into sharp focus how easy it is for long-term illness to threaten a business – even one that’s stable and grows every year. I therefore want to share a few of the things I learned while keeping my business afloat, ready for a bumper 2016:

Always have an emergency plan.

Without some kind of a plan, things would have fallen apart very quickly; kidney infections have a way of sneaking up on you surprisingly fast – in a matter of hours – and I felt very fortunate to have already made provisions for sudden emergencies. This year I plan to improve my plan based on what I learned in 2015.

Sometimes you just have to stop.

I tried to power through the first day or so of the infection and spent a lot of the energy I needed to fight the thing off. Stubborn dedication to ‘business as usual’ is sometimes an asset (typical Brit, much?), but only coupled with knowing when to quit. Of course, rest is important throughout the year, not just when illness forces your hand.

Keep the people who matter informed.

I told regular clients I was sick and took days when I needed them. I also emailed the people I was collaborating with so they understood what had happened and sent an update to the contributors to the Great Productivity Project, since their posts would be delayed until I was liberated from the fog of pain meds.

Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise.

If I’d tried to maintain my usual routine, I’d have made myself very ill and lost the business. Triage is vital, and you can apply similar principles to when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, being sick enough you can’t fit everything in makes it much easier to decide what’s important. For me, blogging, the newsletter and social media had to go. I also changed my office hours, but in such a way that my overall service and availability wasn’t noticeably affected. (Caveat: if you’re not well enough to work, just take the time off! See above.)

Be proactive about your health.

Avoid problems by advocating for yourself when you’re sick and do your best to avoid getting sick in the first place. These articles should point you in the right direction. I’ve got plans for a couple more articles on freelancer health in 2016.

 

What now?

Things won’t be getting back to normal just yet, but here’s the plan:

 

It’s going to be a busy year! In the meantime, I heartily recommend Lloyd Bingham’s fab Translators on… series, featuring a whole host of wonderful colleagues discussing their approach to business. It’s a really great read and I’m one of the contributors!

 

Have you ever had to juggle severe illness and your work? How did you help yourself recover? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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