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Tips for Avoiding Work-From-Home Burnout

Before the start of the pandemic, only 25 percent of Americans were working from home. That statistic has increased to 62% since March. While working from home certainly has its benefits under normal circumstances, working from home during a pandemic is not the same as working from home otherwise. On top of the constant access to work and children or others at home as well, there’s the anxiety-inducing 24-hour news cycle, uncertainty about what the future holds and everything else that comes with living during a public health crisis. With all of this, it can be common for those who suddenly found themselves working from home since March to be experiencing burnout.
Burnout from work is characterized by the following, among others:
  • Irritability with co-workers, clients and customers
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of satisfaction from achievements
  • Disillusionment regarding your job
  • Unexplained headaches, stomach problems etc.
To help you combat burnout and make working from home a success, we’ve gathered a few tips:

1. Define Your Work Hours

Without the physical act of getting in a car and driving home at the end of the day at the office; however, it’s easier than ever to just keep going, allowing our work time to infringe upon our family time. Even if you’ve taken advantage of flex hours and an alternative work schedule, write your new schedule down and stick to it. Maybe your day now ends at 6:30 instead of 5:00 to allow you time during the day to assist your children with remote learning. Whenever your day ends, pretend you have a commute home, and shut it down for the day.

2. Take Breaks

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just tell ourselves to ignore household chores? Easier said than done, especially since things are becoming untidier fast now that we are home 24/7. Try the Pomodoro Technique to find time for things like the dishes, laundry, social media and playing with children: Work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Every four “pomodoros,” take a 20-minute break. Just remember to make sure some of those breaks are actual breaks – breaks during which you take time to rest and refuel your own mind and creativity.

3. Minimize Distractions

Numerous studies have shown that humans can’t really multitask, and that trying to do so actually leads to a decrease in productivity. Turn the TV off, leave your phone in another room, and carve out specific time during each day for checking emails – like the beginning and end of each day. Minimizing distractions will also help you stick to the Pomodoro Technique and vice versa, if you know there is time coming up for each of the things that might distract you from your work otherwise.

4. Reward Yourself

Always have something to look forward to, and make sure it is on your calendar for one of your Pomodoro breaks. Take a walk, listen to a podcast, facetime a friend…whatever it is that feels rewarding. Taking these breaks to reward yourself for productivity actually energizes you for the rest of your day, so don’t think of it as taking time away from your work, or “stealing time”.

5. Take Care of Your Physical Health

Getting regular exercise and adhering to a healthy diet has never been more important. Schedule time in every day for some exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the block. If you can take your exercise outside, all the better, as fresh air can help relieve stress and boost your spirit..

Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, as well. Getting enough sleep makes us happier, healthier and more productive. Not enough sleep is a direct cause of feelings of stress, which will inevitably lead to burnout, under any circumstances. So, make sleep a priority: go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Keep your bedroom dark and cool, and turn off the TV and other screens at least 30 minutes before bed.

6. Try Meditation

You don’t need anything special to meditate, although there are plenty of apps if you need a little extra guidance. Just sit quietly in a comfortable position and concentrate on your breathing. Meditating just five minutes can help calm your mind and reduce negative emotions.

7. Stay Connected

Make it a point to connect with friends and family, and not just on social media. Whenever possible find a socially-distant activity that allows you to get together in person: a picnic, a walk, etc. If you’re less inclined to go out or are feeling sick and want to be safe, use apps like Houseparty to connect virtually, so you can still see their faces and hear their voices.

The work-from-home routine is likely going to be with us for quite a while. Many employees have reported desiring to continue working from home, even post-pandemic. Use these strategies to prevent WFH burnout and create a routine that truly works for you.