I’m nearly back to 100 percent health after a nasty cold that required 500 boxes of Kleenex. It’s amazing how good “normal” feels after being sick.
It was my first cold of the 2014 cold/flu season. I was hoping to get through winter unharmed, but no dice.
There’s an old saw about the length of colds that I think is very close to the truth, “three days coming, three days here, three days going.” I don’t think the first three or the last three days of colds affect my work productivity, but the middle three days are a struggle.
And then there’s the cold/infection combo. Colds are caused by a virus, so you can only treat the symptoms. However, I’ve had several instances where the virus has led to an infection. I remember two whoppers:
• Eleven years ago I endured a November cold that led to bronchitis and sapped my energy for several weeks.
• Five years ago I had a springtime cold that caused me to lose my voice completely for four weeks.
My latest cold was capped by an ear infection that’s being treated with good-old amoxicillan.
You Can Build It Into Your Plans
I asked my wife last night how many colds adults get per year. She said an average of two to four; I looked it up and she’s right. Over the last 20 years of solopreneurship, I think I’ve averaged two colds per year that have affected my work hours.
There’s no way to avoid sickness, but building a realistic number of sick days into your annual budget can reduce the psychological trauma (I can’t be sick! I just can’t!) of being ill.
For example, if you’re a professional who bills on an hourly rate, subtract 10 days worth of time (roughly 40 billable hours) from your annual revenue projections.
If you have a year when you lose only five days of time, then you’re five days to the good. But know that you could have years when you lose more than 10 days worth of time.
When You Have to Work
There will be times when you have an upcoming, non-negotiable deadline and you have to work a normal number hours. In those cases I get plenty of extra rest, I treat my symptoms, and I use every available minute of strength to work on the project. In other words, personal/family/community time is sacrificed — no, you shouldn’t go to your kid’s out-of-town, all-weekend basketball tournament.
It’s a Reality
Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like a cold vaccine will be available anytime soon. The development of a vaccine that could prevent the common cold has reached an impasse because of the discovery of many different cold viruses, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“Each virus carries its own specific antigens, substances that induce the formation of specific protective proteins produced by the body,” the NIH says. “Until ways are found to combine many viral antigens in one vaccine, or take advantage of the antigenic cross-relationships that exist, prospects for a vaccine are dim.”
 Common Cold, WebMd.com.