It’s Monday morning and I’m sitting watching my four-year-old pirouette her way around ballet class when my nose begins to run uncontrollably. Not long after, my phone buzzes and it’s a message from my husband asking me to buy cold and flu tablets on my way home.
In a self-employed family like ours, the only thing worse than being one person down is two. Especially when you’ve also got two kids to wrangle!
Straight into mental checklist mode I go.
- Which meetings can be moved?
- What’s due and when are the deadlines?
- Where am I at with urgent tasks?
As I’m doing this my phone buzzes again and it’s the start of a series of deadline changes and out of the ordinary small business fires that require our immediate and undivided attention.
How did we survive the week? We focused on ourselves first, clients second:
1. Stocked up on food and stayed hydrated
I’m not the greatest of meal planners so I was unprepared to be out of action. We always have a ready supply of fruit and veg however so as soon as I got home from the ballet/cold and flu tablet run I made a huge pot of soup and froze it into portions.
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Having meals made and ready to go reduced a huge amount of dinnertime stress and pressure over the course of the week (as well as the post meal clean up!)
We also paid greater attention to how much fluids we were getting into us by ditching the coffee for water or herbal tea! While I’m not usually the best at remembering my water bottle, that week I made sure it was in my bag at all times … and that I used it!
2. Work. Rest. Work. Rest.
Like most business owners, it’s not uncommon for us to keep unconventional hours. When you’re sick it actually becomes essential to throw out any ideas of ‘sticking to 9-5’.
On Tuesday night, I laid down with my son when I put him to bed. It was early evening and I fell asleep too. At 1am I was wide awake and staring at the ceiling. So I got up and got back to work.
In the past, refusing to rest meant our period of illness was more prolonged than it needed to be. This time round, when our bodies told us ‘REST!’, we listened.
1. Clear communication
As soon as it became clear we were both sick, we let customers know that circumstances beyond our control meant potential delays. Employees were prepped to take on extra work. And we had our associates on board to handle any overflow.
Although I had deadlines, by opening a discussion, all involved were able to get exactly what they needed in a reasonable amount of time.
No one likes to appear weak or whingy. But worse than that is over-promising and under-delivering, particularly when it all could have been avoided with one quick phone call.
2. Enlisting Help
From cleaners to virtual assistants (VAs) and nanny services, there is a multitude of other small businesses out there designed to help in emergency situations.
As I made my way through my mental checklist, I found several smaller jobs that could be handed straight over to a VA. And I booked a cleaner!
So in the end, it was hard going, but we survived a week of deadlines, kids and the flu. And we did it by making sure we first looked after ourselves and then looked after our business.
How do you manage deadlines in your business when you get sick?