Tips for powering through work when you are sick?
May 8, 2014 5:13 PM   Subscribe

I think I have the flu. It's kind of mild, but has all the usual stuff like headache, body aches, lots of mucus, exhaustion, mild fever. I am also teaching a 130-student course and we are in week 11 of 13. I have 35 assignments to mark by tomorrow, an exam to finalise by Monday, and an assignment to create today. Fortunately I don't have any face-to-face time today, so I have stayed at home, but if I don't get this stuff done, not only do I miss university imposed deadlines, but I just pile up extra work for myself next week, that will make it impossible for me to prepare my lectures on time. All I want to do is curl up in bed and sleep, or watch trashy TV. Does anyone have some physical or psychological tricks for making yourself work in these circumstances?
posted by lollusc to Work & Money (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
At the end of your work day, go home, take a nap. Then wake up and have a nutritious meal and then go directly to bed. Lots of sleep and fluids and you can power through it.
posted by xingcat at 5:22 PM on May 8, 2014

You're going to feel like crap no matter what you do, so you might as well feel terrible marking papers instead of feeling terrible watching tv. Just sit down and start slogging through it.
posted by valoius at 5:24 PM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sorry you're sick. When I'm sick, I know I have times of the day (early evening for me) when I perk up, and times (morning) that I feel worse. If you can anticipate a better period, it will feel good to schedule your work for then and just let yourself be sick for now.

Other than that, I'd bet you know the usual: set small goals, work for short periods and take a break. For today, just get a start on the Monday exam, and grade a few questions from the assignment.
posted by Dashy at 5:25 PM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Take DayQuil or your favorite, all-in-one powerful cold and flu medication. It only makes the symptoms milder, but that helped me a lot when I had to work while sick. Don't let yourself watch trashy tv--if you really need a break, then take a nap and let your body recover some energy. Basically, make sleeping your only procrastination (but let yourself sleep as much as you can without falling super behind).
posted by serelliya at 5:27 PM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Good is the enemy of done."

The questions I would ask myself in this situation would be:

-How thorough does tonight's marking have to be? How much feedback do these children really need at this point in the semester?
-Is there any reason this final cannot be [multiple choice/essay only/draw me a comic] where [] is whatever format is easiest for you to write?
-What if I showed mercy on these children and did not assign this final whatever and just gave them the exam?
-Are the grading percentages set up so that I only have to grade the finals of the children who are on the bubble?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:28 PM on May 8, 2014 [7 favorites]

Personally, I give in and watch trash TV while working. That way I can work at my own pace and have TV in the background to distract myself from feeling like crap. Get comfy on the couch with the remote and the work you have to do. Take cold medicine and stay hydrated.
posted by Crystalinne at 5:32 PM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cut everything else out. Order takeaway food, don't bother cleaning the house, etc. Just focus on getting the work done and taking care of yourself. Break it down like "I will grade this paper, then drink a cup of tea. After I grade five papers, I will nap for half an hour. Then I will grade another paper and watch a stupid sitcom." Tiny steps with frequent breaks.

Have you got a colleague you can trade favours with? So they will prepare the assignment or look over the exam draft you have, and you will owe them a favour when you're better etc?
posted by viggorlijah at 6:23 PM on May 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Can you shift the marking out a few days? We get university assignments back late all the time, and while none of the students love it, it is a thing that happens (illness, death in family, court appearances).
That leaves you with the assignment to do today, and that only. Tackle the rest over the weekend.
Also take real, old formula codral. Not the new PE junk. Go to a posh neighborhood chemist and ask for it (it wasn't stocked at all in the dodgier places I lived). You show a drivers license but you get it. Rug up, make lots and lots of tea, soup, whatever else you want and do your best. It doesn't need to be the best example of an assignment ever set, it just needs to be good enough and done by tomorrow.
Then sleep a lot. Feel better.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 7:10 PM on May 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

What percentage of the grade are these assignments you need to grade? If it's not very high, consider just giving everyone who turned it in 100% -- I doubt that any of your students will complain.

Then for the new assignment, just pick one of the pre-written ones from the resources that come with the instructor's edition of the textbook.

Then you can spend the next few days focusing on resting and getting better and tackle the exam writing on Monday.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:09 PM on May 8, 2014

Hey, that was me this past week! Sucks, I'm sorry.

Do you have anyone who can take care of you a little? Someone to make you soup somehow makes everything easier to deal with.
posted by chainsofreedom at 2:48 AM on May 9, 2014

They make cough drops with caffeine in them. Those helped me a lot over the winter (but, warning: they taste terrible and you will need to counteract the caffeine with some serious NyQuil later).

Something else that helps with suffering in general is to break time into increments and focus on getting through that increment, then move on to the next. "Okay, that was a rough ten minutes but I got through it. Here we go for the next ten" and so on. Or be like Gately at the end of Infinite Jest, lying in a hospital bed, coping with each second individually--just count to one. "One. One. One. One." (x9,000,000 or until the seconds get easier)
posted by magdalemon at 8:12 AM on May 9, 2014

1. Stay hydrated
2. Use any medication that makes you feel okay.
3. Nap frequently

As for the final. It's done. Fine. Move on.

As for the grading, half-ass it, grade one grade higher than normal. It won't hurt anything. If it's something like math problems. Just give everyone 100%. The world won't end.

As for the assignement. Search on-line for something. Lots of us are subject experts and can help with an assignement.

What's the subject, I'll be one of us has a far out lesson plan.

My favorite end of semester plan (especially since we closed the grade book a week before finals) was a week long Build a Country Exercise. Separate the class into groups and they have to come up with:

1. A Flag

2. A National Anthem

3. A tourist brochure

4. Set up their government

5. Decide what their economy will be based on

It can go on and on. It was good for high school, but you might be able to tweak it.

You can assign an article and a review. You can assign problems. You're allowed to have a down day.

Don't sweat it. Really.

Feel better!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:16 AM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Solicit help. Contact your department chair, explain your predicament, see if there's a grad student or work-study student who could assist you. Call a friend who might be willing to come over and make tea, deliver some soup, maybe help with grading, or just stick around and help you stay focused.
posted by theora55 at 11:50 AM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

make it impossible for me to prepare my lectures on time.

This (lecture prep) is where you have the most wiggle room. If the content of that lecture is not essential to the final exam, it is a day to recycle (from another semester) or wing a lecture on something you know really well. They will still be learning even if you have had to change the topic of the day to make it easier for you.

As for grading: this is a time to give grades without comments. The comments are what take time. Just add a small comment justifying the grade but don't mark up the paper. Write "feel free to contact me to go over this" on papers where the grade might upset them.

It is hard...sorry.
posted by third rail at 7:49 AM on May 10, 2014

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