How To Stay Productive In the Face of Sickness

At the time of writing this, I have already been sick for a week. I am finally reaching the end of my cold and I have regained the energy needed to work but my work and my productivity levels have suffered over the past few days. If you are like me, losing time and being relatively unproductive are two things that make you feel as though you have completely failed at life. For those of you who may struggle to work when you are sick or for those who are currently sick and are struggling, take a look at some tips below to help you stay productive in the face of sickness.

1. Realize That You Won’t Be As Productive

You’re not going to be able to produce as much work when you are sick as when you are healthy. It doesn’t mean that you have failed in any way or that you need to put in extra time to make up for it. It only means that you need to put in less work on your work and more work on your health. Allow yourself to be content with what you achieve rather than what you expect yourself to achieve.

2. Do What You Can

Unless you have a big project looming over the horizon, don’t push yourself too hard. Limit yourself to simple tasks or to tasks that will only take up at most an hour of your time. Create time blocks for yourself in which you can do work and rest in between these specific time blocks. Spending too much time doing work and ignoring the state of your health will only create more problems that might end up causing your sickness to last longer.

3. Plan for the Days Ahead

Sick time is the best time to get your planning done. Instead of fretting over all the things that you aren’t getting done, plan ahead and rearrange your schedule so that you will be able to tackle your projects more efficiently when you begin to feel better. If you have the time and the energy, you can plan your whole month in advance.

4. Respond to Calls and Emails

If your voice mailbox and your inbox are full, take some time to respond to your emails and your voicemails. These things would usually be a productivity problem but since you won’t be as productive when you are sick, using downtime to reach out to those who have tried to contact you is a great opportunity. However, let yourself and the people that you reach out to know that you won’t be this available once you begin feeling better and getting back to a normal schedule.

5. Use Spurts of Energy to Your Advantage

If, during the duration of your sickness, you feel a sudden burst of energy, use it to your advantage. Do work during these bursts of energy and rest when you begin to feel drained. If you feel energized for the entire day, great! If you only feel energized for 20 minutes out of the day, that’s okay too! Remember, the most important thing to do is to listen to your body. Don’t push yourself to continue working if you are feeling drained.

Being sick doesn’t mean that you can’t get stuff done but it does mean that you have to be aware of your limits and work around them. You simply have to remind yourself to work smarter, not harder. If you are currently sick or you are feeling a cold coming on, use the tips above to help you remain productive.

Dylan is a freelance writer from California. When he’s not writing, he enjoys making music, taking pictures, and enjoying life. He hopes to one day hold a lifestyle writer position at a major magazine.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.