What I have learnt being forced to take time off work

By Wayne Sables

In January 2023 I had a routine foot operation (basically a bunion sorting out), it meant that I had to be house bound for 4 weeks, potentially 6 weeks as my foot and more precisely by broken big toe and my two new screws attaching it to my foot healed. No big deal, I can get a sick note and have medical leave from my employer. The only issue is I am my employer, I am a self employed freelance filmmaker, director, projection mapper. When I am not working I am not earning as they say.

The caveat to this blog is my operation was scheduled, I had about a months notice it was going to happen. I had declined the previous two dates available as I had work commitments and honesty needed the money more than the operation. Having a months notice did give me some planning time, had I had an accident I really don’t know what I would have done.

Having some planning time did give me time to process what was about to happen and to mentally prepare myself. I work across the country, so being confined to my house is challenging. I thrive of being around others and collaborating to bring creative projects to life.

So what have I have learnt? What has being at home taught me?

Networking and networks.

Prior to being in recovery I didn’t put a lot of thought into networking, I would attend when I could but didn’t think I gained much value for my business. Until I couldn’t attend that is. I began missing what I once dreaded, I realised I missed the thrill of being in a room of mostly likeminded people. Sometimes talking about our business, but mostly just talking and sharing a drink and a slice of pizza. Most of the people I met at networking events I only see at networking events. I have realised that networking is critical but not in the obvious sense, I have never gotten any work specifically from attending my local events, but I now belong to a community, a support system, a group of people that I can have a drink with and share a slice of pizza. Not having this in-person interaction has made me use social media better too. On LinkedIn I am connecting more, commenting more and having more meaningful conversations online. This in turn is raising my profile and as a result I have met some new connections.

I have realised that my physical network is critical, not only to keep working with my existing clients but to continue conversation and collaborations. The pandemic has actually helped with regards to this as hybrid working is now mainstream I have been able to book future work in, have meetings (including meeting new clients), keep connected with existing projects and collaborate in real time on edits. In essence I am still able to do part of my work, planning, editing etc.

I never realised how much I crave being in the room with people. We know it is important to surround yourself with people that give you energy, that are positive influences, that help you to be better. Until recently I didn’t give it much though I just assumed I did surround myself with those types of people. Having time is a good opportunity to assess whether you are surrounding yourself with good people, if you’re not cut them loose, it will be better for everyone. No one needs negative energy.

Having a good supportive network is crucial for your mental health, whilst being off work recovering I realise that I haven’t worked from home for more than three days consecutively in my entire career. I’m always out and about having a prolonged period at home has been a really interesting challenge. Having colleagues and friends visit has been instrumental in me feeling connected to the physical world.


This is a really obvious one, and I’m really hoping it sticks once I return back to work. I had a minor operation on my foot, that meant that I can’t work as I once did (for a short period of time) no surprise here, but the world has kept turning, people are still working, days are still dawning, night still falling, you get the sentiment. Realising you’re a tiny cog in a gigantic machine is humbling. I think we all fall into the trap of self importance at times and stepping back from it all has made me realise actually what is important. My takeaway from this is to take more time out and do things that are not work related It’s amazing the amount of things I’ve planned in to do when I am back on my feet, most of it are really small things, some big things like going on that dream holiday. I think the essence of it is to not feel the need to be constantly on, constantly available. None of this is new thinking I’ve known this for years I just haven’t had a period of time where I’ve had the opportunity to really think about it a lot.

FMO (fear of missing out)

Fear of missing out is something freelancers have no matter whether you’ve been doing it for a long time or you’re new to the game, being at home and not being around my usual clients and potential new clients has really made me think about FMO. If I’m not at the networking event, will I lose work? If I’m not seen around am I out of peoples thoughts and therefore when they want to commission new work will think of somebody else? All things have been going round in my head and honestly, I’m sure there will be bits of work that I’ve missed out on because I’ve not been in the right place at the right time but it isn’t that true generally. You can’t be everywhere all the time. I have actually gotten work whilst I’ve been at home. This is probably down to the fact that I am still active on social media, I’m still actually working (doing lots of editing) and I have a reputation that doesn’t go away because I’ve been laid up for four weeks. I don’t know if I’m articulating this very well, what I’m trying to say is we all have FMO. Reaching out to people, talking to your networks, talking to your clients, sharing things on social media all help to combat these negative thoughts. In the super connected world that we live in it’s never been more easy to be present and not physically be in the room.

One of the massive advantages of being freelance is that I have very low overheads. My office is incredibly cheap because it’s just me and the freelancers that I work with. I’m incredibly flexible and resilient (like all freelancers are), and I feel I have a positive outlook on life, to see you being off work as a positive has really helped me stay connected with people, think of new ideas for new projects, I’m actually enjoying a slightly slower pace and has re-energise me to get out of there, I’ll be the best version of me.

If you’re a freelancer and fancy a coffee and a chat please do reach out to me, you can contact me through the website or on social media @waynesables. I love to connect and meet up with a new and like-minded people.

If you would like to know more about our services click here

Lets connect.




Image in header by: Ian Dooley