5 Practical Ways To Deal With Work Burnout Amidst Working From Home
With working from home now being the norm, work burnout is fast becoming common too. Why is it so? Well, with home doubling up as the office, it is much harder to shut off from work completely. Office hours are not 9 to 5 anymore. For some people, work is done almost every waking moment, especially if they must liaise with clients or colleagues in different time zones. The blurred lines between work life and home life may even swallow up whatever time one may have for themselves.
So how do we deal with it? There are many things that I will mention here, but they all aim to achieve the same thing: to create a clear boundary between work life and home life so that we don’t get burnt out easily.
1. Have a dedicated workspace area.
The first thing to do is to dedicate one space in your home as your ‘workspace’. This helps put one in the mindset of ‘going to the office’ when sitting in that space and ‘leaving the office’ when exiting that space.
How does one go about this? That is totally up to you. It can be in the small things like getting a desk pad or desk mat to put on the table. It could also be dedicating a room to be your home office. What you wear may help in this too. Instead of wearing the same sweatpants and tee-shirt, dressing up like you are going out may help lift your mood. One Instagram creative I followed even tried to make this fun, setting up daily themes for a week to revolve her outfits around. This helps us to deal with work burnout in small but effective ways.
2. Set consistent office hours.
Another thing to do is to set consistent office hours. It can involve setting your status on Microsoft Teams to ‘Offline’ at a set time, reminding your colleagues to not expect an immediate response to messages. It can also involve only answering emails received after office hours the next day. I think being intentional with when you start and end your workday will help enforce a work-life balance, and hopefully help you overcome burnout while working from home.
3. Schedule breaks in between.
Breaks are important throughout the day. I am the kind of person who works through my lunches and is willing to put in time after work to get the job done. However, this mindset in any job – especially in a work-from-home situation – is not sustainable.
One of the ways to deal with burnout while working from home is having scheduled breaks in between work. As I like to draw, I make an effort to do 5-minute sketches during my lunch break. You can also re-organise your workspace, tidying up papers or do anything necessary for a clear mind when getting back to work. You can even attempt doing some house chores too! It is surprising how mindless things like washing the dishes or vacuuming the floor can be a good escape from work.
4. Minimize screen time.
One good way of minimising work burnout is to minimize screen time whenever you can. While the computer is not a hazard, long hours of screen time causes eye strain. This may lead to difficulty sleeping, headaches, and even vision problems.
While it is not practical to reduce time on the computer due to work, you can take steps to destress with activities that do not require staring at a screen. Try taking a walk outside with headphones in, doing some journaling, investing time in a garden or a few plants, or maybe cleaning out that cupboard that you have been meaning to.
When I made the effort to reduce my screen time, I found that I could truly relax. Having my computer in front of me, even if it is for recreation, was still a temptation to check on my emails or messages from work. This hindered me from truly destressing and made dealing with work burnout even more difficult.
5. Surprise yourself.
Let’s face it: Working from home can get monotonous. Every day is the same, with the same routine, same place. During the initial period of working from home, the days felt so repetitive that they started to bleed together, making me feel like I was losing track of what day it was.
This is where small surprises for yourself may be helpful. Sometimes a change of scenery may help, like going to your local cafe (if it is possible) for a change in your work environment. Getting cake for myself to eat during the workday was a huge pick me up.
I hope these suggestions were helpful! They may sound like small things but it is little changes like these that disrupt the monotony of working from home and help one deal with work burnout. If you need some inspiration to curate a great home workspace, here is an article on practical desk accessories to complement your workspace.