We’ve all been there, you feel ill and not very productive. You want to know if you should forge on or just give up for the day. Dealing with illness when you’re self employed is a challenge for any business. Taking time off results in not making any money. So, how do you make the best use of your time when you’re under the weather?


The answer. Tackle the mundane tasks that can be done from your bedside with minimal thought. A great example of this is looking at how different aspects of your business are performing. You don’t need to make any major business decisions, yet, but you can certainly crunch the numbers. Pick jobs that are the most effective use of your time, right now.

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Illness and self employment - being productive when you're not at 100%?
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How well different aspects of your business are performing

Now is a really good time to have a look at what is doing well and not so well, in your business. Crunching the numbers can be time consuming and boring but you need to have a grasp of how profitable your business is, month on month, to determine how it is performing over time.

Above all you need know if your business is flat lining (not making any profit or stagnating), if it’s growing exponentially or if it’s steadily growing over time. It could even be making a loss and you don’t even realise it. However,  you can use your data to predict at what point it will hopefully become profitable.

Now, if it’s constantly flat lining at a loss, I’d seriously consider knocking it on the head now! Or at least work out some specific options to turn things around. If it’s showing growth, consider putting more time into it. You need to determine which aspects of your business are worth focusing on.

Put your profit over time into a spreadsheet (yes, Excel is your friend!) and produce a graph. Lots of graphs. Graphs give you an instant visual depiction of how your business is growing.

They will show you how each product or service is growing. They will further show you which are profitable now or will become profitable over time. Bear in mind, the area that is profitable right now, might be overtaken by another area in time. Can you track this?

Having this sort of knowledge will help you to decide which part of your business you should spend most of your time and effort on when you’re back to 100%. In short, this will help give you the most return from your business.

Effective use of your time, right now

No one wants to be a ‘Busy Fool’. I know lots of self employed people who suffer from busy fool syndrome. They are busy all the time, working all hours but never make any money. In other words, they are not working very effectively.

So, now you have analysed your business’ growth and profitability, it’s time to look at the most effective use of your time. There will be days when you are ill or stuck at home for whatever reason. Maybe you cannot get to the office or cannot work outside that day. Use these days to make a list of what needs to be done, based on the areas you have identified as performing well.

Decide which job will make the most efficient use of your time, right now, today! It could be catching up with accounts, updating social media, coming up with marketing strategies or returning calls and e-mails, for instance.

Forget about big business decisions, you’re not in the best state of mind for those. Forget about what you should be doing that day and focus on what you could be doing that day. If you’re anything like me you’ll find days off due to illness inanely boring. It’s a great time to tackle those jobs you’ve been putting off. When you’re back to 100% you can act on the information you’ve learned. Who knows, you might suddenly be in a position to make life-altering changes!

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Originally published: 10th October 2018
Last updated: 10th October 2018

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Andy Mac

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