Design Career Advice for Cold + Flu Season

career-cold-flu-seasonEvery designer has been there: You feel the aches and sniffles coming on the week before a big project is scheduled to wrap up. Maybe you chalk it up to stress, bad luck or that under-the-weather friend you saw last week. But no matter the cause, you’re still faced with getting well and getting the project out the door.

How to Stay Healthy (and When to Stay Home)

This year, put a plan of attack in place before you find yourself in a panic. Start with these tips we’ve compiled to make it through cold and flu season while still meeting all your deadlines. You’ll find tactics for staying healthy and knowing when you’re better off staying home.

Outsmart Office Germs

Your best bet is to not get sick in the first place. Of course, that’s easier said than done. You can’t completely eliminate the risk of falling ill, but you can reduce it. Increase your odds of dodging the flu or a wicked cold with these healthy habits.

  • Listen to what Mom said. Wash your hands – often. This means more than just after visiting the restroom. Scrub for 20 seconds or so before lunch and even before you grab one of those leftover cookies from the break room.
  • Remember that germs hide everywhere. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth during the workday. Especially after you’ve touched the copier, door handles, light switches and other high traffic, communal areas.
  • Clean up your cube. When’s the last time you wiped off your keyboard or mouse? How about your smartphone? Invest in a container of disinfectant wipes to stash in your desk. Then make a point of giving your area a quick wipe-down each week.

Stay Home or Tough It Out?

Despite your best effort, you might still find yourself coughing or coming down with the chills. If this happens, what do you do?

A study by OfficeTeam found that 75 percent of employees frequently go into work when they’re feeling sick. Why? A lot of people are afraid of falling behind, missing deadlines or wasting paid days off.

Here are some good reasons to just stay home when you’re sick and a few ideas for managing your workload so you don’t fall behind:

  • You’ll help stop the cycle. One sick coworker leads to another. By keeping your germs at home, you’ll help stop a cold from spreading through the entire office.
  • Working sick doesn’t necessarily help you get ahead. Let’s face it: You’re not at your most productive or creative when you’re sick. And pushing through might actually prolong or worsen your illness, causing you to take more time off down the road.
  • Be honest and ask for help. We all like to be the superstar of the office, but it’s OK to ask for help when you’re sick. Chances are you’ll find that colleagues are willing to lend a hand. You may even discover that a smart project manager built a little wiggle room into the schedule for just such an occurrence.
  • If you must, work from home. If you really do need to meet a pressing deadline while feeling under the weather, instead of heading to the office, ask your boss if you can work from home for the day. You’ll keep your germs to yourself – and you won’t have to change out of your sweats.

This year, take the time to prepare for flu season so you can be successful in sickness and in health. Everyone hopes to make it through flu season unscathed. But if you don’t, remember that it’s not the end of the world – or your career.

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