The Freelancer's Recovery-from-Injury Itinerary
Imagine being a dancer. And then you fracture an ankle.
Imagine being an artist. And then you injure a hand.
Imagine being a public speaker. And then you damage your vocal cords.
If you're a freelancer --and a workaholic at that-- any of these would feel like a death sentence. But, really, it isn't. It's just a setback. Health issues like these are thankfully, temporary, and can get you back in the grind in --well, a little more time than no time. Oh, but don't feel bad. On the upside, if you're a workaholic, this might just be the break (no pun intended) you need.
But what exactly do you do during this unplanned, longish hiatus? If you're the type who laments over the absence of productivity than the presence of pain, might I suggest the following:
EVALUATE, UPDATE, AND DELEGATE. Whether the misfortune was caused by an accident or spawned from a post-op, you should wait until you're completely settled before making some phone calls. First, evaluate your physical and mental state. Never write or call anyone unless you're emotionally ready. Second, update your clients. Be concise and upfront, especially about when you're expected to return. Third, if necessary, delegate. Projects are not going to wait for you. The show must go on. So if your clients haven't had you cloned, you'll have to tell them that you'll try and get one of your freelancer contacts on board.
FOCUS ON RECOVERY. It's crazy how some people feel guilty when they're sick. I'm talking to you, breadwinners! Newsflash: You're human, too, and totally allowed to heal. On the other end of that sweep, there are those people who fall into an end-of-the-world state of misery during hiatus. It's okay to feel sorry for yourself in this moment of weakness, but hosting daily pity parties will not help you get better any sooner. These are the things you should really focus on: Never miss your meds, never miss your therapy, never miss your follow-up appointments with your doctor. You get better faster when you turn negativity off and power on.
FOLLOW UP YOUR PAYCHECKS. This doesn't need to be said, but --medical hiatuses are expensive! As projects must go on, the processing of checks must, too. Wish this didn't need to be said as well, but some clients will need an extra nudge to get the ball rolling. Send gentle reminders that you've done work prior to your predicament and would need to be compensated, thank you.
BE PRODUCTIVE ANOTHER WAY. "I love all this free time!" --said no independent factotum ever. If all this rest period is boring you to tears, find other ways to keep your creative juices flowing. We're not aiming for additional anxiety, so let's keep these juices non-work-related, okay? Come on, this is a great opportunity to learn new things! It might even help beef up your skill set. The trick here is to cleverly navigate through productivity and injury. Your leg is in a cast? Try writing a story or painting a picture. Your hand is briefly bogged down? Maybe sing or do fun voice over videos. Can't speak for now? Then maybe it's time you listened to informative podcasts or read that stack of untouched books on your shelf.
EASE YOURSELF BACK. Gasp! Are you sure? Are you really ready to go back to work? Okay, fine. But, while this is your highly anticipated comeback, you cannot throw yourself into the salt mines like nothing happened. Sure, you may have fully recovered, but there is such a thing as relapse. So do exercise a bit of caution in the first few days or weeks of your return. This is when you discuss some new temporary terms and conditions with your clients. If you're a dancer, maybe cut down on the crazy footwork for now. If you're a writer, consider dictation. If you're a speaker, perhaps a microphone can give you the volume you haven't recovered yet. Also, you can report to work digitally. Working from home is always more comfortable and practical while we're waiting for your body to catch up and click back to normal.
AND, BE IMPRESSIVE. Being careful doesn't mean being incapable of performing to the best of your abilities. If you can't give your 100% right now, at least drop an idea bomb that will make everyone realize why they missed you so much when you were gone.
That said --Welcome back, freelancer! Break a leg!