At first, work-from-home life is pretty good: you enjoy the comfort of being barefoot in soft pants while your new, flexible schedule saves both time and money. However, as months pass on, many Americans might feel stress and fatigue creep in. You may feel isolated and spend long hours online. Work-life balance can easily vanish as you answer emails seven days a week or try to manage your children’s at-home school work.
Due to the pandemic, 2020 saw the largest shift to remote employment ever, with nearly 70 percent of U.S. full-time employees working from home. New experiences, learning processes and shift changes brought their own unique challenges. A reported 69 percent of remote workers experienced burnout. To help address the stress, you need to tackle the root cause of burnout. Try these 10 WFH tips I’ve accumulated as a veteran remote worker (plus, I also polled my 10x digital team for their best pointers).
Burnout is an ongoing feeling of diminished energy, productivity and wellbeing. Psychology Today lists common symptoms as loss of concentration, feeling negative or cynical, trouble sleeping or anxiety. Avoidance behaviors, like excessive eating and overuse of social media, can also be secondary signs of burnout. If any of these behaviors ring true, there are a number of things to do to revitalize yourself as we move into 2021.
1. Create a Designated Workspace
Make an office space for yourself, even if it’s a small desk in the corner of an existing room. The simple act of buying an office chair and adjusting the height for comfort and proper ergonomics can make a big difference in your posture and positivity.
Check out these WFH accessories to level up your workspace.
2. Set a Schedule
Decide what time your day starts and ends, scheduling both breaks and mealtimes into your routine. If possible, try to finish your work on a weekday. For those who may be self-employed and working on a Sunday, give yourself ample time off during the week to recover.
You need time off, period. Burning the candle at both ends will lead to burnout—plus, you’ll offer a lackluster performance when you are on the clock.
3. Get Clear with Colleagues
According to Forbes, failing to meet expectations or communicate them clearly is a common source of stress. Let your boss and co-workers know when you can and can’t be reached, defining communication priorities and goals with your manager ahead of time.
4. Take a Break
Clear your head with a brisk walk. It doesn’t have to be long, as even 15 minutes of movement and fresh air without constant phone notifications can help you refocus.
If possible, take a full day off each week, giving yourself something refreshing to anticipate. Go away for a weekend, plan a picnic, hike in a scenic area, make a four-course meal with great wine or cocktails. Don’t be nervous to treat yourself to a new experience that makes you stop overthinking and savor the moment.
5. Reward Yourself
Create milestones and reward yourself when you reach them. For example, commit to replying to emails for one hour, then do a workout video. It’s easy to think you should always be “on” with your computer just footsteps away, but you deserve indulgences and time for yourself as well—especially when you cross something off the list!
6. Take Care of Your Body
This is one of the most important WFH tips—focus on your health! Exercise clears your head, lifts your spirits and can get you outdoors. Plan to move your body each day, whether it’s a walk, exercise routine or online workout. Compliment these efforts with a healthy food regimen.
It’s easy to fall into bad eating habits while WFH—you plan to stop and make an omelet for lunch, get busy and end up munching on chips at your desk. Pack/plan your lunch or meal prep as if you were going to the office to ensure consistent and balanced meals.
7. Practice Self-Care
Think of pastimes you enjoy, like puzzles or reading, and add them to your schedule. Make sure you get enough sleep and don’t neglect what your body tells you. If you’re feeling tired, hungry or agitated, pinpoint the cause of those emotions and address it right away. Don’t let work take priority; self-care is essential for avoiding WFH burnout.
8. Build a Support System
A downside of working from home is the lack of ability to socialize. There’s no chatting in the coffee room or commiserating during happy hour. Build a support system by scheduling short calls with a friend, relative or colleague to establish consistent outside communication.
9. Reclaim Your Commute
Use the block of time you spent on commuting on another activity like exercising, reading, writing or meditating. Fight the urge to sleep in or scroll social until it’s time to roll over to your desk. A consistent morning routine (including your new found commute time) can set the foundation for a great day.
10. Be Kind
Finally, and most important of the WFH tips, to avoid burnout, we must remember that everyone is making it up as they go. No one was prepared to work during a pandemic! Don’t be too hard on yourself or those around you when things go awry. Assess the issue, communicate and change course as needed. You should also never feel pressured to tackle all these WFH tips at once: slowly work them into your routine one day at a time, and you’ll be on track to beat burnout faster than you think.