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Matt is Back!

OK, that was bad.

I was out sick for the past week. Not your "I feel a little cold coming on, I'm going to take it easy today," but more like "I know I should drink water, but I'm too weak to crawl." Fever of 104+ degrees Fahrenheit (gotta love US units), body wracked by coughing, etc. In other words, just the flu. Answers.com says it well:
An acute contagious viral infection characterized by inflammation of the respiratory tract and by fever, chills, muscular pain, and prostration.
Prostration - quite right.

Interesting facts about being sick:
  • It's just like taking sick leave when you're employed, but without the pay.
  • Be prepared to become seriously depressed once you do feel better. This was unexpected, and unwelcome.
  • Tracking your actions on a master list GTD-style, instead of scheduling every single one, is great when you're sick. Instead of pushing a ton of them back a week or two, I just had to contact those people on my calendar to reschedule.
  • Every day I was sick I had anxiety about two pressing projects I had promised to get out. I was finally able to convince myself it was better to be late with them (letting people know, of course), than to kill myself trying to work on them, making mistakes, and generally doing myself and my clients a disservice.
  • I continued to capture thoughts, ideas, and (more likely) rabid ramblings via my trusty bed-side pad of paper and pen. Those notes are in the Smithsonian now, so I'm glad I did!
  • I missed my exercise! I do 30 minutes a day, 7 days a week, and being out for a week was nasty. Probably contributed to the depression.
  • Getting out of the routine - it's hard to get back into the swing. I'm doing exercise, and I'm using the "at least one significant action a day" approach to ensure I am productive again. Even a little thing like rescheduling all my canceled appointments is good.
  • People didn't mind my canceling their appointments, esp. when I explained I did not want to get them sick. Funny, that.
Anyway, next up: My long-delayed second part on Productivity for Programmers, following Bob Walsh's great Productivity for Programmers, #1: Trusted Systems, the first in our series on the topic.

Stay well!

Reader Comments (13)

Good to have you back, Matt! I was starting to wonder why I didn't find any posts on your blog for the last 10 days or so. Hope you feel well enough to continue your own business again, because I know the feeling you describe all too well - not working, no income! Stay well.


February 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commentergtdfrk

I know how that goes. I hope you feel better soon.

- Rodger

February 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRodger

Hi Matt,

Good to see that Getting Things Done is helpful in soo many situations, including the negative ones :)

I don't know if you know, but depression / feeling depressed can be the result of (bio)chemical causes instead of mental ones, too. And illness obviously impacts the biochemical system in your body.

Take care and get well soon,
Taco Oosterkamp

February 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTaco Oosterkamp

gtdfrk, Rodger, Taco: Thanks!

Taco: I appreciate the thought - I'm definitely working on it.

February 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell


About calling to reschedule:
I tell customer service people this general anecdote.

When sitting in a restaurant, I am perturbed by slow service - particularly when the food server avoids me, avoids eye contact, etc. I have immense patience when someone comes up and says, "We are really busy. I apologize and will get to you A.S.A.P. I'll take care of your drinks on the bill." or something similar.

I understand busy, I understand things coming up. I do not understand when I am ignored.

Get well. I understand acutely the no work, no pay syndrome...

Of course, you will get the "you are so lucky, you get to make your own hours." - Yes, and that sometimes means Sunday to Sunday 24/7. And it wasn't luck, I chose and then acted..

February 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Moran

I think the depression also comes when you grapple with the stuff that you didn't get done.

So happy to find your blog. I started with GTD in January and I'm a convert. I'd like to take some time to write about how to apply the GTD principles to writing a dissertation (my current joy).

February 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRebcamuse

Rebcamuse - I really think you're right. Might take a few days to get back into the swing. Thanks very much for reading - I'm looking forward to your post on GTD and your dissertation. Any tips would be welcome!

Matthew - Great story. I *always* prefer the "tell them the bad news ASAP" vs. "keep 'em guessing". You're right about the control too. Thanks for your comment.

February 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

I too was sick this past week, during the busiest time of my year too. I totally agree that it's frustrating to put down the work and just rest. It's hard to get back into things too. I did enjoy me a lot of WGBH HD though! And for some reason when I'm sick I'm always drawn to Star Trek reruns, though I don't really like Star Trek - so that was fun.

February 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterErik

Hey Erik. Thanks for your comment - it helps to hear I'm not alone.

WGBH HD and Star Trek - nice combination! I watched the first season of "The Unit," which was a bit gung-ho for me, but pretty damn addictive. Plus, I'm a Mamet fan, so the twists were enjoyable. (We don't have cable TV, so we're out of date with all shows. This is nice, though, because time is a great filter...)


February 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

Good to hear you are better and to have you back. Don't worry, being sick is very fashionable at the moment! All part of life's growing experiences...

February 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJamin Ellis

Jamin - thanks for the sickness update. It's good to know I'm not alone. That's not to say I wouldn't trade it had I been offered some strange Faustian machine that would give my illness to someone else, preferably a stranger... Wait, did I say that?

February 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

I definitely would think the depression might have been partially due to the lack of working out - there's a lot of endorphins released after exercise that you were lacking for the week you were out. Probably some sort of withdrawal!

Glad you are feeling better.

February 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJustice~!

Hey, Justice. I think you're right. I'm feeling a lot better after my third day of regular exercise... Hopefully that's it. Thanks for reading!

February 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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