You might have noticed I’ve been absent more than normal from our Facebook group. I have been quietly battling a chronic illness over the last couple of weeks and had to make choices in what tasks needed to be done first. Client work won over everything else. It’s incredibly hard to admit this. I am a driven, self-motivated business owner and quite proud of it. I don’t really want to share with clients that I have a chronic illness.
In my early twenties, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I have had three surgeries over the last 25 years and in the last two weeks, I have been suffering through a lot of pain and discomfort. Although I’m still being treated with oral birth control for the issue, this treatment is going to run its course as I get further into my fifties. My doctor prepared me for the possibility of another surgery in the next couple of years. This week, I couldn’t help but think I can’t be the only person with a chronic health problem that freelances.
Here are my top tips for freelancing with a chronic illness:
Rest: The most important thing I do is rest when I need to. If I get to the computer and I can’t think due to pain, I shouldn’t be behind the computer. I try to get to bed early. I treat my illness like something I can’t push through when I really can’t push through it. If I don’t listen to my body, I’m usually causing the problem to last longer.
Prioritize: I look at my schedule each day to see what’s a must. And that’s what I focus on. For me, this means fewer meetings and more office time. And my office time can be whenever I feel well enough to do it. I work at night, or early in the morning. I can work in two-hour batches if my back is aching.
Meditate: Meditation is something that helps me overcome pain. I take time out of a bad day to do meditate more than once if I have to. I have some guided meditations I love to listen to for this. Only 15 minutes of meditation can help me manage the rest of my day.
Exercise: Even if it’s just a walk around the block. This helps me manage pain and feel better in the long run. A walk is better than nothing. If I can’t do that, I’ll do a short yoga routine.
Communicate: If a client is expecting something, I honestly say I need a bit more time, but don’t say why. I never feel comfortable saying I have really bad cramps. People are usually super understanding when you just let them know you are going to take a bit longer to get something done as long as you tell them.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to stop and care for yourself. The joy of freelancing is the ability to manage your own schedule. Contrary to how it feels sometimes, your clients are not in charge of your schedule. You are. Be your own ‘good boss’ and take care of yourself.