Taking time off for a medical emergency isn’t always easy when you’re a freelancer. You don’t have coworkers willing to pick up your slack or the benefit of sick days to fall back on. That’s why it’s so important you proactively prepare for essential time off. Check out these three ideas to help you prepare for unpaid medical leave.
1. Create a Financial Cushion
Building an emergency fund is one of the best ways to prepare for a sudden illness. Each month, set aside a little bit of your income towards these savings. They’ll provide backup in case you have to delay work, drop clients, or even decline projects while you recover.
An emergency fund should consist of three to six months’ living expenses for salaried or hourly workers. You may want to tweak this goal as a freelancer, as your career may be more volatile than average.
If you need x-rays or prescription medicine before you save up enough, you may use a personal loan or line of credit to fill in the gaps. You can learn more about these online loans at MoneyKey, where you may also apply for assistance in emergencies.
Online loans are designed as safety nets when your emergency fund falls short of your needs. They can help with an occasional slip-up with your budgeting, but they aren’t ideal for expected medical expenses.
With enough savings set aside — or the right loan online — you can get the care you need without delay.
2. Incorporate Buffer Time into Your Schedule
An emergency fund is an account you fill with extra cash you won’t miss each month. Eventually, it collects enough money that you can handle unexpected expenses. Think about your time the same way. You’ll want to bank hours, building a cushion of time in your schedule.
Here’s another way to look at it. You don’t want to bill for the precise amount of time it physically takes you to finish a job. If anything interrupts your day — creative block, tech downtime, or illness — you could disappoint your clients.
Instead, budget your time to allow for small disruptions. This way, you can take an afternoon or two off to sleep off a cold without having to update your clients.
3. Communicate with Transparency
You can’t always bounce back after an afternoon. You may be diagnosed with a viral infection or be involved in an accident that requires more than a week of recovery time. At this point, a small buffer of time isn’t enough; you’ll have to let your clients know that you need an extension on your due dates.
While they don’t need to know your entire health story, you should be transparent with your deliverables. Map out a realistic timeframe in which you’ll hand in your content and keep them updated should anything change.
If you need more time, consider subcontracting your project with another freelancer you trust for the job.
While taking time off isn’t ideal, you shouldn’t deny yourself recovery when you’re sick or injured. These three tips can help you prepare for unexpected time off, so you don’t have to feel guilty about prioritizing your health.