Chicago — When you're sick, it’s not always easy to tell whether you should grind it out at work or just rest up until you feel better.
If we’re honest, for most of us, the decision is as much about the work we have on our plate as it is about whether we feel capable of doing it. When I’ve considered taking sick days, the potential backlog of work and passed deadlines have caused more concern than anything else. That’s only magnified when the success of key time-sensitive projects and limited paid time off are on the line.
As you lay in bed with tissue in one nostril or with a fever leaving you unsure whether you're too hot or too cold, you might be tempted to just clock in, afraid of the domino effect your absence will have.
But is that the right choice for your well-being?
The answer might be obvious to some and less-so to others. Here are some questions you should pose to yourself as you make your decision:
How do I feel?
Examine whether you truly have the ability to do the tasks your agenda calls for. It might be hard to take that zoom call when your cold makes your voice sound like you just finished screaming your lungs out. It also might be impossible to meet with your boss when you have a terrible headache or if you’ll spend the meeting sneezing before you can finish a sentence. Obviously if you’re in any pain, work shouldn’t be on your mind at all.
However, if you feel like your symptoms are very minor and that they’ll have no impact on how you do your work, why waste your PTO?
Also for those who aren’t completely bed-ridden — If you're working on a huge project and need to get a time-sensitive task done, maybe there’s a brief time slot you can dedicate to it before you rest for the day. In any case — whether you feel like working until noon or not starting work until noon- make sure your health is your priority too.
What will I be missing out on?
Some weeks are heavier than others in terms of workload. Maybe the day you’d be taking off is one with few important deadlines and meetings. If so, you might be in the clear to call in.
If important items were scheduled on your agenda for the day, is there any way they could be rescheduled? And if not, can someone cover for you?
Clearly, if you're too sick to even think about these things, then don’t worry. They’ll work themselves out when you get back. Just focus on getting better.
Noah Johnson (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based journalist. Follow him on Twitter: @noahwritestoo.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett