Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Freelancers' Guide to Man Flu

For the past four days, my throat has been home to a bed of nettles, my voice sounds like Mutley, I've been deaf in one ear, and my nose has been dripping at the rate of approximately five hankies an hour. Not any common or garden cold for me - this is definitely MAN FLU!

Sod's law dictated that the lurgy struck on Friday afternoon. It was bad enough that my weekend went to rack and ruin - not helped by both Ireland and England losing in the rugby and West Ham getting stuffed once again - but worse still, I was actually fractionally closer to death's door yesterday morning when clients were expecting me to be hale, hearty and positively sparky. All I wanted to do was to crawl into bed with a nice bottle of Daynurse and the delights of daytime TV, but I couldn't. Even man flu isn't enough to deal with the freelancer's peril - don't work: don't get paid. Actually, that peril is worse still - don't work....and the job's still there when you crawl out of your pit. It still has to be done alongside whatever else is on the slate that day or week.

So, of course, yesterday I sat at the desk, shivering and hacking away in a most germ laden manner and tried to bring the spark and energy necessary to the task. The result? I feel worse today and now I'm grumpy too!

Last week I read how Britain's employees see the occasional 'duvet day' as a right. Our long hours working culture is building a mindset among workers that it's their right to take a day or three every few months to recharge and recover on top of their normal holiday allowance. There's a sense that there are always other people around to pick up the slack - and anyway, the contribution an individual makes to an organisation isn't generally so time sensitive that a day here and there makes much of a difference.

Certainly, among the corporates I work with, most people really do work long hours, and there's a tacit acknowledgement that they 'earn' the odd day's unofficial R&R - even if they're rather a long way from death's door. I know that I definitely used to operate like that back in my own corporate days when it was quite easy to turn a man flu sniffle into a good reason not to make the daily commute.

Of course, running a micro-business, it's totally different. My health probably isn't hugely better than it was a decade ago, and I still am prone to picking up every cough and cold the kids carry back from school, but now I'm working for me, and every extra day of income make a very real and direct difference to my business. If I don't respond to client needs, they'll look elsewhere. So, had today been 1998 when I was still employed by Barclays I think I would have been phoning in sick. Instead, I'm using this blog as a warm up to a day of solid interviewing and writing, with a goal of producing six pages of a magazine by close of play, as well as getting visuals for a new performance management system signed off, a video script for the same project advanced, and interviews for a procurement recognition magazine set up and in the diary.

My Kleenex box is strategically poised....maybe I'll just wrap my duvet round my office chair.

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