You’ve finally taken the leap and started your freelance virtual assistant business. Congrats!
Becoming a freelance virtual assistant can provide you with so many benefits, including more money, a flexible work schedule, and more job security than a “traditional” job. (More on that soon!)
But, one of the biggest drawbacks of being a freelancer is not having paid time off for holidays, vacations, or sick leave.
How to deal with sick days as a freelance virtual assistant is one of the most common questions I receive from my $10K VA course students.
After struggling with this myself a few times, I finally worked out a system to handle sick days so I can take time off to rest and recoup without damaging my business.
Here are 6 ways to handle sick days as a freelance virtual assistant.
1. Know that Sick Days WILL Happen
Being self-employed as a freelancer has awesome benefits, but sometimes it also leads to working way too many hours, odd hours, and pushing yourself past normal limits in order to meet income goals or client deadlines. This means that you will get run down, stressed, and sick.
Virtual assistants are human, which means it’s inevitable that you will get sick from time to time.
Don’t guilt yourself about it because it’ll only make things worse!
2. Always Work Ahead
Now that you know sick days as a freelancer are inevitable, it’s important to always work ahead in your business as much as you can.
Some tasks may be things you can’t be ahead on due to the nature of the work, however you should try to be at least a couple days early with whatever tasks lend themselves well to being completed early and pre-scheduled.
3. When You Get Sick, Make a Plan
When you feel sickness coming on, the first thing to do is make a plan.
Can you still do any work? If not, how much time do you think you’ll need to take off to rest? Do you think you’ll need one or two days off to recoup? Will you need a week or more to recover?
Although illness can be unpredictable, do your best to decide how much time you think you’ll need off to recover from being sick.
Try to be conservative by over-estimating the time you’ll need off. It’s better to plan for three days off and come back a day early rather than needing to take off more time than you originally planned.
4. Communicate with Your Clients
Send a quick email to your clients to let them know you’re sick. Tell them if you’ll be working, albeit at a slower pace or in a more limited capacity, or if you’ll be off completely while you rest and recover.
Let them know what’s going on so they aren’t left to wonder why you missed deadline or aren’t responding to their communications. They’ll be very appreciative of this simple courtesy.
5. Have a Backup
If you can afford it and have someone you trust, it can be a good idea to have a backup freelancer to rely on when you get sick.
This may be someone you hire in your business, or it could even be someone whom you work with as part of a team for one of your clients.
For example, one of my clients works with multiple virtual assistants for different aspects of her business. We are all cross-trained on each other’s duties. This way when one of us is sick or is gone on vacation, someone else can cover.
If your clients are small and don’t have a team with multiple assistants, you may still be able to use a subcontractor yourself to cover you when you are sick.
6. Take Care of Yourself
The most important thing to do when you are sick as a freelancer is to take care of yourself and get better. This means resting, taking medicine, or whatever it is you need to do to get better.
Sometimes pushing yourself to continue working when you’re sick will only prolong the illness. So, take care of yourself and your work will be there when you get back.
What to Do About Demanding Clients
Most clients will be understanding when you get sick, as long as it doesn’t happen too often. If you’re working with one of the rare clients who is demanding and not understanding when you’re sick, it may be time to re-evaluate your working relationship with them by setting better boundaries, or even ending your working relationship if necessary.
Clients are human too, so most of them are understanding when you get sick. Just be sure to communicate with them frequently and openly about when you expect to be back to work.
How do you handle sick days as a freelance virtual assistant?