Gone are the days where you can walk across the hall, cough loudly, declare, “I’m sick”, and let Mom take care of you.  You used to stumble back to bed, sleep until noon, wake up to chicken noodle soup and Mom ushering you back into bed for a day of cartoons and misery.  It wasn’t fun, but you got a small thrill from knowing that you were free from that math lecture for just one more day.  

Now, being sick is a little different.  Mom isn’t there to usher you back to bed; you’ve got to do that yourself.  Chicken noodle soup doesn’t just magically appear on the stove, hot and soothing, and you’ve got to drag yourself to the gas station for cough drops and ginger ale.  It’s already shaping up to be a pretty awful day, but adding work to the equation just makes you want to cry.  However, if you’re like most millennials, your relationship with healthcare is iffy (not enough visits to the doctor and too many unused sick days).  The easiest way to skirt around the whole dilemma is just to work from home.


1. Assess if You SHOULD

While you might have to work from home because of an upcoming deadline or a lack of available sick days, you might also be choosing to work from home because of an overachieving attitude.  It’s good to want to get ahead and be productive, but even you need to take a break every once in awhile.  Not taking enough personal time can compound work-related stress, resulting in lost productivity and worsening health.   

If you’re running for the bathroom every five minutes or sweating buckets, then maybe you’re overdue for a day of cartoons and misery.  Pushing yourself to work when you’re seriously sick is the perfect way to prolong your suffering.  Your body needs to rest and recover. Plus, if your brain is too fuzzy to think, you won’t be doing the best job anyway.

2.  Pick a Spot

Alright, so you’re committed to making this day even worse.  Pick a comfortable spot that you can work in, but will also be well secluded from others.  As tempting as it might be, your bed is probably a bad option.  There’s no real back support when you sit on it, unless you’re against the wall, and that’s just painful.  You might find lying on your stomach an acceptable alternative, but plenty of people don’t.  Additionally, your bed should only be used for sleep and sex– never work- in order to get the best rest possible every night.  Otherwise, you might start to form a mental link between work and your bed, leaving your anxious and wide awake every night.

Of course, then, the obvious solution is work in a home office.  If it’s comfy enough, and it has all the necessary supplies, then this is the ideal situation.  On the other hand, office chairs aren’t exactly known for their comfortability.  Hopefully, yours is an exception.  

Once you’ve got a spot, stock up the area with plenty of comfy blankets and pillows, medications, tissues, and whatever else you can think of.  Put some soup in a thermos nearby.  Have Netflix on in the background, if you can be productive at the same time.  This spot is going to be your world for the next eight hours, so you might as well make it yours.

3. Be Efficient

It can be easy to give yourself a break.  After all, you’re sick!  But the truth of the matter is that you’ve decided to work.  You’re either committing or you’re too sick to work.  So, given that, do whatever you need to do to get in the zone (probably turn Netflix off, to start).  Next, chug whatever generic medicine will mask your symptoms for the next eight hours, maybe listen to your favorite work jams, and focus.  

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take any breaks.  Set a goal for yourself, to finish one report or to reply to ten client emails.  It’ll be easier to focus if you have a goal in mind, and it will give you a clear guideline for when to take a break.  Schedule in at least one longer break to take a nap.  You can power nap if you’re desperate, but a full 90 minutes is required for a complete REM cycle.

Working from home can be a nice change of pace, but it’s unlikely that you’ll feel refreshed at the end of this work day.  It’ll suck.  But at least you won’t have a mountain of work waiting for you once you’re better!


Dayton socializes for a living and writes for fun. Her rarely relevant degree gives her experience in political science, writing, Spanish, rugby, theater, coding, and spreading herself too thin. She will forever be a prisoner of her family’s business, doomed to inherit responsibility despite frequent existential protests.

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