5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Sick Days Even entrepreneurs can get run down and get sick but for many, they can't afford to take time off. Here's how you can harness the power of sick days to get ahead in business.

By Dorie Clark

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Entrepreneurship is a 24-hour-a-day profession. You can't afford to take time off unexpectedly -- but nonetheless, your body sometimes rebels. If your fever is spiking and you can't stop sneezing, you probably have to cancel your client meetings (no one wants to do business with Typhoid Mary). But that doesn't mean you have to abandon all hopes of productivity.

Here's how you can harness the power of sick days to get ahead in business.

Related: The ABCs of Offering Time Off

1. Write a first draft. Are you going to compose a brilliant client proposal or a stunningly incisive book proposal when you're stuffed full of cough medicine? Doubtful. But the fact that you know you're off your game also frees you up from the perfectionist impulses that plague so many of us when we're feeling well. Instead, use the "license to be awful" to whip out a first draft that you know will need serious revision. Often, the hardest part is just getting started. Take the opportunity to put your ideas on paper, and they may turn out better than you anticipated.

2. Read professional development books. It's tempting to curl up with a thriller or a romance novel when you're under the weather. But even though you're resting your body, you can still stretch your mind. You can attack the stack of business books you've been meaning to read and learn something new about your business or how to improve your skills.

Related: Coping With Sickness When a Deadline Looms

3. Watch educational videos. Sometimes you're too sick even to pick up a laptop or a book. All you feel like doing is sitting back and watching television – which is fine. But instead of binging on Golden Girls reruns, stretch your mind by watching a documentary film about a subject you'd like to explore further or inspiring YouTube videos. Not sure what else to watch? Start planning now for your next sick day by creating an online folder of videos to watch when you're not feeling well like longer talks you might not have time to check out during your regular workday but that you know you'd benefit from.

4. Figure out better processes. Your body may be impaired, but your mind -- lying in bed and free to roam -- may actually be in an optimal position to come up with new ideas for your business. Think through the obstacles you face -- whether it's sourcing materials, onboarding new staffers or dealing with an extreme volume of email. Are there ways you can systematize and make improvements? Getting away from the grind at your desk may free you up to think about the big picture -- and new ways to address problems.

5. Sleep. If you're in really bad shape, you may only be able to sleep -- and that can actually be the most productive act of all. As author Tony Schwartz points out, only one out of 40 people can feel fully rested on less than seven hours per night of sleep. A full 95 percent of people require at least seven to eight hours per night, so if you're not getting that -- and most of us aren't -- it's healthy to recharge and stock up.

Related: 4 Ways to Manage -- from the Sick Bed

Dorie Clark

Speaker, Marketing Strategist, Professor

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You. 

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