Working from home can often provide a more flexible schedule. But, it also presents its own set of challenges and can make maintaining a work/life balance difficult. This can lead to lower productivity, lower job satisfaction, burnout, and more over time. Putting some boundaries in place and establishing good habits while working from home can help prevent these negative outcomes. Here’s how to avoid burnout when working from home:
What is Burnout?
Burnout is when you become completely exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is caused by excessive and prolonged stress. The path to burnout is characterized by feelings of being overwhelmed and emotionally drained, which is often paired with an inability to meet constant demands.
Once burnout has set in, it results in lower productivity and sometimes no productivity. Because burnout leaves you feeling drained, you may feel like you have no energy and like you have nothing left to contribute. It often leaves people suffering from it feeling hopeless, cynical, and even resentful.
Not only does it affect your job, but the negative effects of burnout often ripple outwards to affect every other area of your life. In addition to affecting your work, home, and social life, burnout can also have long-term effects on your health if left unchecked.
Because it is caused by consistent, prolonged high levels of stress, it can make your immune system less effective, which leaves you vulnerable to illness on top of everything else. This is why it’s important to take proactive measures to prevent burnout and to take the measures needed to overcome it if you find yourself battling it.
5 Tips to Avoid Burnout When Working From Home
Because there is often not a clear delineation or schedule between work and life when you are working from home, it can be easy to fall into a habit of always working. This is one of the most common mistakes to avoid when working from home and can also lead to burnout over time. Here are a few tips to avoid burnout when working from home:
1. Set a Schedule and Stick to it
One of the best ways to avoid burnout when working from home is to give yourself some boundaries. Set a schedule of what your work hours will be and then stick to it and make sure you disconnect once you’re done for the day. Not only is this one of the effective tips for working from home, but it can also help you proactively avoid burnout later.
Depending on requirements or policies from your employer, you might already have a set schedule of working hours. In this case, just make sure expectations are set on both sides that there are working and non-working hours when you are working from home.
If you have a more flexible schedule and can set your own hours, which is one of the ways companies can support employees working from home, you can break your schedule up into blocks throughout the day or change your set working hours from day to day depending on your deadlines and needs. The important thing is that every day you have a clear delineation between work and the rest of your life.
This ensures you have a deadline in place. You know you need to get your work for the day done by that time. And, you have an end time where you know it’s time to disconnect from work. Whatever it is, stick to it. Plus, making sure your boss and coworkers know when you’ll be available is one of the tips for managing remote teams and can help keep things running smoothly.
There may be times, depending on your industry, where you’ll have to handle an emergency. But, extenuating circumstances aside, sticking to a set schedule can help you avoid burnout in the future.
2. Take Breaks Throughout the Day
Taking breaks throughout the day is important whether you’re working from home or in an office. Looking away from your computer periodically keeps your eyes fresh and getting up to move around every once in a while can keep your muscles from getting stiff from sitting too long. Plus, it breaks up your day and offers a small reprieve from work for a few minutes.
On top of that, taking a break and walking away from your work can give your mind a break too. Not only can this help combat Zoom fatigue, but it can be particularly helpful if you are suffering from writer’s block, are stuck on a problem, or are just blanking on ideas. Sometimes, changing the scenery, looking at something else, or just moving around can be enough to boost creativity and get you thinking about things differently.
Learn to recognize signs of stress. If you know a certain task causes you certain levels of stress, be sure to take a break during or after the task is completed. Recognizing your stress and learning how to manage it is a helpful tip for how to recover from burnout.
3. Prioritize Your Tasks and Avoid Busy Work
In an open office environment and when working from home, it can be tempting to focus on looking as productive as possible. This can sometimes lead to busy work and work with more immediate results instead of what is most important.
In the long run, this can lead to increased stress and longer days later when it turns out important milestones were missed along the way. By prioritizing your tasks into what’s most important for the day and what will be most impactful long-term, you can keep your work moving, deliver on what matters most, and help reduce potential stress and chaos later.
4. Reach Out for Social Interaction
Working from home can be isolating, especially if you are used to interacting with your coworkers on a regular basis. You may have friends and family, but that social element of work is often lost when you are working remotely.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your coworkers for that social interaction and input when you need it. You can still reach out and lean on your coworkers the way you used to in the office even while you are remote.
There are a ton of available tools for online work meetings you can use to connect through chat, video, and more. You can also set aside a little bit of time at the beginning of scheduled meetings to check in with everyone and reconnect.
5. Make Sure You’re Taking Care of Yourself
Whether in an office or at home, it can be easy to get absorbed in work and stop taking care of yourself. In addition to all of the other health issues this can lead to, it can also contribute to burnout on top of it. So, make sure you are taking care of yourself.
Watch your caffeine, sugar, and alcohol intake. If you’re already feeling stressed, these things tend to make it worse. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Get some exercise in regularly and try to spend some time outside. Don’t skip meals or eating good food in favor of work.
If you’re in a state of flow and fully focused on work, it’s easy to end up missing a meal or relying on snacks. It likely won’t hurt you if it happens every once in a while, but you don’t want it to become a regular occurrence. When you take breaks throughout the day, check in with yourself and make sure you’re providing what your body needs to stay healthy and keep functioning well.
These are just a few ways to avoid burnout when working from home. Everyone’s situation and requirements will vary, so you’ll need to find the right mix of things that work best for you. What’s important is that you put in a little time to find what works well for you and beat burnout before it happens.