All workers can experience burnout when they go through an extended period of stress. This happens in all work environments, including Work From Home (WFH) environments.
Remote workers often experience burnout for many reasons. One primary reason is that they are typically more productive than their office counterparts. This productivity is wonderful for the company, but if not handled properly, it can backlash. Burned out employees suffer emotionally, physically, and mentally.
Why do remote workers experience burnout? By working from home, they no longer take the time to commute to work, take part in office chit-chat, or office lunches. Those office perks not only help build camaraderie, but they also provide boundaries and buffers in the workday, benefiting employees emotionally, physically, and mentally.
How Can You Prevent Burnout?
To prevent burnout, you need to take care of your emotional, physical, and mental well-being during and surrounding your work. You can do this by creating boundaries, prioritizing your work, and creating a routine.
Create Boundaries For Yourself
You will need to create many boundaries for yourself in order to prevent burnout, including physical boundaries, time boundaries, and technology boundaries.
You can work anywhere in your house, but you likely know which areas will be the least productive for your workflow. You don’t need a home office to set up physical boundaries for your workday. You just need a dedicated place where you work. If your kitchen table is too messy and your couch is too cozy, create a space somewhere that is quiet but not too relaxing.
Implement boundaries with this workspace. When you are working, only sit or stand in that specific area. When you are using your laptop or phone for personal uses, be sure to walk away from that designated space. This lets your brain and family or roommates know that you are walking away from work, even if you still need to use your devices.
Many people who WFH feel like they always need to be “on.” This sense of loyalty and urgency makes work hours bleed into every other hour of the day. That pressure, while usually self-induced out of guilt, is what causes burnout. To avoid this, set up time boundaries for yourself.
If your employer does not require you to work during certain hours, then create your own schedule around work meetings and other commitments. Use the flexibility of WFH to create the ideal schedule for yourself. If you can, work when you perform the best, whether that is in the morning, afternoon, or evening. Try time blocking to get started until you start to work in a consistent rhythm. Be aware that this schedule may change according to seasons of the year and seasons in your life. Embrace the flexibility when your current schedule no longer works for you by creating a new schedule.
Depending on your job, you may spend a lot of time using various technologies and devices. If you also like to use those devices outside of work, set up boundaries for your technology.
If you’re tempted to check your work email outside of work hours, turn off email notifications or remove your work email account from your mobile phone.
If you’re tempted to work long hours, set a timer for the start and end times of your workday. Listen to the timer.
If you have a boss or coworkers who expect to connect with you outside your working hours, clarify your schedule with them. Be firm about your availability and don’t change it unless absolutely necessary.
When you’re on a deadline, go offline as much as you can. Update your status to “Do Not Disturb” in your collaboration tool to inform your coworkers and boss that you’re working but busy. Put your phone on airplane mode. Don’t check your email. Take this time to focus on your project and remove all of the distractions you can.
Prioritize Your Work
While working remotely, it can be tempting to do all the work that shows your productivity versus doing the work that needs to be done first. This is often called “busy work.” These small tasks stack up and may look great as you check them off of your to-do list, but doing so can cause mounting pressure to complete larger projects on tight deadlines.
To avoid adding stress, prioritize your work at the beginning of the workday or at the end of the workday for the next day. Then only adjust that task list if urgent items arise. If non-urgent items arise, stick to the task list you created today and determine if those new items belong on your priority list tomorrow.
Create a Routine
It’s easy to get sidetracked and distracted when working from home. Family members or roommates may be home, dishes and laundry are piling up, and suddenly the carpet needs to be deep cleaned. This is why creating a routine for your WFH life is so important. It’s easy to ignore many housekeeping tasks at the office, but in this new environment, you need to create a new routine.
Your new routine can be exactly as it used to be, minus the commute, but it doesn’t have to be. Based on your schedule, take note of what distracts you while you’re working. If the dishes distract you, can you do them before work? Or can you work outside of the kitchen?
Whatever your situation is, take note of your distractions and create a routine to minimize them. This can mean working at different times to accommodate family members or roommates. It can also mean working in a different room.
Many WFH professionals have very specific morning, lunchtime, and evening routines that punctuate their days and provide a sense of timeliness, even if they never leave their home. We encourage you to develop the right routines that work for you and provide you with structure for your days.
One common routine many remote workers swear by is continuing to “get ready” in the morning. Working in pajamas can be fun at first, but after a while, you may find that taking the time to put on work clothes and fix your hair or mustache helps put you in the right frame of mind for work. Plus, it’s beneficial to maintain that routine for days you do visit an office or have in-person appointments.
Another common routine that WFH employees have is getting exercise. Whether you choose to work out or take a walk in the morning, at lunch, or in the afternoon, it’s healthy for your body and mind to move and get outside.
Working from home or from anywhere is a wonderful experience that has many benefits, but it’s important to be proactive with your health and the health of your team in order to prevent burnout.
To learn how Meet Me In The Cloud can help you connect and collaborate with your team, easing some of the stress of working from home, visit this link.