What do you do when you feel like dying and you have a deadline to meet? The stuffy nose, achy tummy and busting headache really don’t care about your project, but to your customer, the deadline is absolutely important.
Sometimes it seems as if sickness just waits to strike when you have a big project, doesn’t it? I remember I would get sick every time I travelled for work and had a big presentation. Darn old Murphy! So, really, what does one do when illness strikes and you are the (wo)man to deliver the goods?
Trinidadians say something like this,“Take front before front take you!” What that simply means is to ensure you have a plan. For example, I would ensure that I recorded my presentation (voice, images and slideshow) in case I was so sick, the clients could still be privy to what I was to present, albeit not “live”.
Preventative measures are also helpful. While one cannot prevent a person from sneezing viciously onto your shoulder, mid-flight, one can take measures to combat potential illness. (Not all, obviously!) For example, if you know you’re travelling to a cold climate, pack really warm clothes, cover your head and chest; and ensure you’re getting enough Vitamin C.
If you’re food-poison prone like I am, you may want to walk with your medication and eat only from places of good repute. Avoid milky foods, with sauces that may have been left out in the open for a while; and dine a la carte as opposed to buffet style as much as possible when on business trips, so that you ensure – to the best of your knowledge – that your food is fresh; and you won’t be touching the same utensils as a hundred other persons to dish out from the buffet.
Self-imposed deadlines are also better than the ones set by your client. I’m sure you’ve heard of Parkinson’s Law, where a project will ultimately take all the time assigned to it. Well, set the time backward. If a client gives you a month to complete an assignment, ensure you finish it within three weeks. That way, in case of illness, you’re already ahead of schedule.
Ensuring you have a support group is also very important. You may work with some freelancers or have someone in the industry on whom you can call. Yes, it will cost you a penny or so extra, but the main thing is ensuring the client stays happy so he remains with you and gives you more projects in future.
No one can really‘plan’ for sickness in the truest sense, but you can put elements into place so that if or when that time comes, you’re not additionally stressed with tight deadlines and you can really concentrate on just getting better.