5 Tips to Prevent Burnout When Working From Home
Despite the luxury of working from home in your pajamas, burnout can still occur, and in more ways than expected..
Most adult professional workers have felt it- that feeling of lethargy that begins as consistent loss of focus and eventually can lead to mental exhaustions and possibly depression. Burnout is a very real issue in the professional workforce and just because many individuals are working from home in their pajamas, doesn’t mean they’re not susceptible to the same feelings of discontent. According to Monster.com, over 69% of work from home employees felt burnout in 2020, despite their newfound excess time at home. In this Mod I want to outline a few tips for preventing and healing from burnout. I’ll share the power of time management applications, home office curation, workflow changes, and more.
1. Organize your schedule ahead of time
Much of what causes burnout (from personal experience) is the feeling of doing too much and not having any space or time to do the things you want. Some jobs require employees to constantly be on the clock, checking for emails and other notifications of tasks that need to be completed. Other individuals might experience burnout related to the amount of time they spend with their families- as there is no longer the separation between home and work life. Burnout can stem from a variety of time pressures, but there are tools that can help you organize your time more effectively, in order to create a schedule that gives you room to breathe- literally and figuratively.
One such application is Mana, a time tracking app that’s designed to help you monitor your daily activities, set goals (personal, business, etc) and evaluate your expected vs actual time allocations. They’re currently on their Beta (Feb 2021) but are scheduling exclusive early signups, which is currently on a pay-what-you-can model for early adopters (don’t say I never gave you anything). Using an app like Mana can help relieve burnout by evaluating your required tasks and prioritizing them in a way that gives you time-freedom, while also staying on track towards your goals.
2. Separate your home office from living space
Unlike the office environment, your home office is likely in the middle of your living space, where you also spend time with family, prepare meals, watch TV, etc. For many people, that lack of separation causes a clouded mindset, which can have negative impacts on your work and mental health. If you’re finding yourself distracted throughout the day, it might be a good idea to evaluate the location of your home office. Even just setting up a divider between your desk and the TV, could be enough to create a “safe space” for your work.
You might also consider sprucing up your home office equipment, as burnout could very well be caused by a physical burnout, like sitting. If you sit at your desk for 8hours and then proceed to sit for the remainder of the evening on your computer, your body will begin to experience negative side effects, which will follow shortly by your mindset and mental health. I wrote an article at the end of 2020 about how you can level up your home office space, check it out if you're interested.
3. Purposefully allocate time off in your schedule
Oftentimes, the key to preventing burnout is just reducing the amount of work you do per week. I know that might sound scary to those that rely on non-stop work, but take a moment to consider your own health and longevity. If you’re finding yourself with too much day left at the end of your hours, you will likely feel exhausted and stressed out ie- burnt out. Take off some of those less productive tasks and replace them with scheduled time off- even just a 30 min window of time each day for a walk outside, can do a lot of good.
It usually helps me to plan out my week in advance, where I will purposefully plot times off throughout the week, sort of like a promise that if I get things done (as long as the expectation is realistic) in time, I can enjoy some time off. This also helps as a buffer, in case I need just a couple more minutes to finish an important task. Of course, this method might not work for everyone, but certainly everyone needs time to decompress. If you’re being deliberate with your time off using an app like Mana (mentioned earlier), you can even get specific with your "time off" goal, ie: watch 2 episodes of Greys Anatomy.
4. Spice up your workflow or responsibilities if you can
Burnout can often result from doing mundane tasks over and over again. This is especially common in data entry type jobs, where employees spend hundreds of hours each year inputting the same data sets over and over again. Even in CS type roles, interacting with the same types of customers and giving them the same, canned responses, can feel demeaning. This is mostly due to the fact that we stop feeling that intrinsic pull of growth, that our tasks are not serving to better us in the long run.
You might consider chatting with your leadership team about mixing up the workflow, or perhaps giving you a special project to work on- one that taps into your unique abilities and interests. After all, not only are we talking about your personal health, we’re also talking about your long term career. People who engage responsibilities related to the things they love, typically do great work.
5. Make time to see friends more often
Because of the isolation that comes with working from home, many people feel burnt out because they lack social stimulation. If your team never utilizes virtual meetings, that could be a great place to start, but for many people, it’s not enough. I won’t lie, COVID-19 makes it difficult and perhaps socially irresponsible to see other people in real life, but I suggest taking a moment to reflect on the cause of your burnout. If it’s related to social engagement, at least now you’ve been able to identify it, and can seek asylum in virtual calls, FaceTime, etc. Even chatting with community members on forums, might be a good way to stimulate your social glands and help offset your burnout.
Sometimes we don’t even notice that we’re isolated because we’re focused on the daily grind. If you set a goal with an app like Mana and accidentally spend a few days inside without seeing or talking to anyone, you’ll get a reminder to reach out to friends, and that little push can make all the difference.
Overall, burnout is very common in the professional workforce, and working from home doesn’t seem to have changed that. In fact, it may have made it worse. Take the time this week to evaluate where you stand on the wheel-of-burnout, and take some actions to improve. Both your career and health are at stake. If you enjoyed this Mod, you might like to read more about these 7 apps for making friends from home! Please share this Mod using the social links below.