Being Productive Even When You’re Not Feeling Well

When I woke up yesterday morning, my first thought was, “Oh, no.” I took a swig of water from the bottle by my bed, but to no avail: I had a sore throat. 

It had been coming on for a few days, but I’d been ignoring it, since it would go away about halfway through the day. I hadn’t been sleeping as well, and sometimes I get a sore throat from lack of sleep. I was hoping that by going to bed super early last night, I would feel better. But no. Today, I am still sick and if anything, I feel worse. 

No, I’m not asking for your pity. I hardly ever get sick, so I’ll get through it. 

But as I’ve been confined to mostly lying down on the couch for the last two days, I’ve been thinking about the best way to deal with sickness, in terms of productivity. I don’t want a mild cold, sore throat and migraine, however unpleasant, to set my progress back a few days.

So here are a couple tips I’ve been employing to still be productive even though I’m not feeling well.

Tip 1: Get your affairs in order.

No, I don’t mean as if you’re going to die. Jeez, a cold isn’t going to kill you. What I mean is think of everything you have going on at the moment: Do you have a project due in a couple of days? Do you have an event you need to go to? Is there shopping you should get done? The thing about sickness is it typically doesn’t come on all of a sudden: it starts as a cold, or a sore throat, or something mild like that. So as soon as you feel yourself getting under the weather, think of all you need to do in the next few days. And go ahead and get it all done before you’re seriously sick. Plan ahead just in case this sickness lasts longer than a couple of days.

Tip 2: Figure out what you can do while you’re not feeling well.

If you’re at all like me, you hate the idea of taking a day off. You want to always be productive and get stuff done. The unfortunate fact of not feeling well is that you’re severely limited to what you can do. But you can still do things, despite your symptoms. Here are a couple of ideas.

With a cold: Colds aren’t that limiting. But if you have fatigue with it, read a book. If that makes you too sleepy, watch a documentary or a classic film you’ve wanted to watch but haven’t yet.

With a sore throat: certainly, avoid talking! But as with a cold, sore throats by themselves aren’t too limiting. I’d highly suggest writing; especially if you’re talkative, and now you can’t talk because of how your throat feels, writing is a great way to get that urge out.

A migraine or a headache: depends on how severe the headache is and what makes it worse. If light or sound makes it worse, I’d definitely recommend reading a book in dim lighting. If it’s movement or lighting that makes a headache worse, podcasts are a great idea.

Tip 3: Still do stuff, but take breaks. 

The best way to get something done when you’re sick is to still do it (within reason), just remember to take breaks. Don’t do something for too long, and definitely hold back on anything too strenuous. The key is to get better, so make sure you’re not pushing yourself too much. But being sick doesn’t mean you can’t do anything and you’re instantly put out of commission. 

Obviously, if you’re really sick, you’re not going to be able to do much of anything, no matter how hard you try. Of course be honest with yourself about this: if doing something makes you feel worse, or it could honestly wait till you feel better, I’d highly recommend letting yourself have a break. Chances are, you were pushing yourself too much and that’s how you got sick in the first place.

But the best thing about sickness is it doesn’t last forever. So take heart: you’ll feel better soon and be back at full capacity. If you make sure to still be productive to the best of your abilities while you are sick, once you feel all better, you’ll be even more grateful for that little you did do.

Sickness doesn’t have to hold you back. If you have the willpower, you can still be productive, no matter what you feel like. 

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