When the pandemic first hit, many of us found ourselves in a whole new world: working from home or working remotely. Now, many months into the pandemic, what seemed temporary is here to stay, and some of us are starting to crack. Here’s how to avoid work from home burnout.
- This is a guest post by Molly Barnes from our friends at the Digital Nomad Life. Molly is a full-time digital nomad, exploring and working remotely in different cities in the US. She and her boyfriend Jacob created the website Digital Nomad Life to share their journey and help others to pursue a nomadic lifestyle.
Working from Home: avoiding burnout
If you were a road warrior, already from a remote locale, or even occasionally lived in your RV on the road. Remote work might have seemed like a godsend at first. You could enjoy a change of scenery while fulfilling your professional obligations. You could clock in while still wearing sweats and work flexible hours without having to chat with gossipy co-workers.
But there were other distractions, and they were probably magnified by the closer quarters of quarantine living. You still had to deal with chores, spouses, and pets who insisted on sitting in your lap as you typed away on deadline. The kids were underfoot, too, and maybe you had to help them navigate remote classes or a myriad of other distractions.
No matter where it’s located, home can be a haven, but remote workers risk burnout, too — especially when pandemic restrictions stretch on for months and what seemed temporary at first turns out to be semi-permanent.
“I, for one, feel burned out by constant Zoom meetings all day, so having Saturday and Sunday without them feels like a real break to me,” Vanessa Bohns said. She also needs to set boundaries with co-workers: “When colleagues have suggested meeting over the weekend, I always ask to find another time,” she said. “It may feel like all the days are blurring together, but that doesn’t mean that we should operate as if every day is basically a work day now.”Quote from a recent Market Watch article on burnout
Market Watch recently published a great piece highlighting the very real and challenging effects of being burned out from the modality we are all working in these days. Endless Zoom, Meet or Teams calls. Staring at the same four walls in our home office, apartment, van, or wherever we are remotely working. Little to no meaningful physical interaction with other humans. People are tired.
Remote work burnout is a very real thing that can suck the motivation out of you or your staff. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to keep burnout at bay. Here are a few suggestions that can help.
Protect your personal time
Flexible work hours are a big bonus to working at home, but if they’re too flexible, you can lose track of time. Before you know it, you’re dedicating more hours to your job than you would have if you’d clocked in and out at a set time.
You might need to stay flexible to deal with home emergencies, but otherwise, treat your remote work the same way you would an office shift. Set a schedule, and let everyone else at home know what your work hours are so you’re not interrupted. Then, stick to them.
That also means taking regular breaks and quitting when you’re scheduled to log off. It might’ve been hard enough disconnecting from email and your smartphone before you began working remotely. It’s more important than ever now to hold the boundaries on your personal time. You’ll be happier and more productive as a result.
Make your workspace yours
If you’ve worked in an office, you might have brought in a plant, a family photo, or some other modest decorations to personalize your space. Now that you’re working remotely, why not do the same?
Many digital nomads spend at least part of the year in a more permanent home. If you’re one of them, you might want to clear out a basement space, large closet, or another area to make room for your workspace. Begin by identifying things you no longer need and set them aside in a pile. Then, get rid of them.
In the space that’s left, add the accessories and gadgets you need to feel comfortable and make the space yours.
Upgrading your home office – even if it’s just a temporary home office – can help you fight burnout. Don’t be afraid to mix it up from time to either. Change that plant out for a new one or hang a new piece of art on the wall.
Shore up your brick-and-mortar base
Whether you’re on the road, in the air, or grounded at your brick-and-mortar abode, the last thing you need when you’re working is to be interrupted by a home emergency that needs to be resolved. This is especially important; whether you’re departing, coming home, or staying put, you need your environment to stay stable and functional so you can do the same.
You won’t be able to do much to prevent sudden illnesses or homework crises. But you can prepare yourself for that version of Murphy’s law that says things always break down just as you’re ready to leave.
A home warranty can ensure that you’re covered if something goes wrong with your dishwasher, fridge, HVAC system, etc. The number of a good handyperson can come in handy (pun intended) when something breaks that you can’t fix yourself.
Make sure your air conditioner and heater are in working condition. Working in an environment that’s too hot or too cold can accelerate burnout. Upgrading and maintaining the physical environment you work remotely in lays a foundation for a positive work experience and helps you avoid remote worker frustration and burnout.
Get your finances in order
Everything’s “up in the air” in today’s world and that uneasy feeling can be magnified if you’re on the move, landing in a new airport or pulling into a new “home” periodically. Regardless of your home office situation, keeping your mind free of distractions will help you focus on work when you need to. One major source of stress and frustration for any employee (remote or not) is finances. It’s more important than ever to set a budget and stick to it and that applies equally to remote workers and digital nomads.
Stay in mental and physical shape
Working while traveling offers lots of opportunities to get outside when you’re off the clock and do some exploring. That often involves walking and adjusting to new sights and sounds, both of which are good for your body and mind.
And if you’re a road warrior out in remote places, you’ve got an advantage over those who are house-bound: You can find ways to get out without exposing yourself to the virus. Take advantage of it. Get out for a hike or a bike ride, and, if you can, find a spot to stare up at the blue sky or the stars.
While you’re at it, consider making a journal of your travels to look back on later – or start a blog!
Working from home — or a home-away-from-home — doesn’t have to lead to burnout. In fact, it can do just the opposite. If you look at it from a new perspective, it can be an adventure. And there’s no time like the present to start.
This is a guest post by Molly Barnes from our friends at the Digital Nomad Life. Molly is a full-time digital nomad, exploring and working remotely in different cities in the US. She and her boyfriend Jacob created the website Digital Nomad Life to share their journey and help others to pursue a nomadic lifestyle.
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