Working from home can be a catch-22. On one hand, freedom! It’s freeing not to have to commute to work each day, to be able to set your own schedule, and to work from your bed in your pajamas if you want. However, there are costs to working from home too. One of those costs is burnout. With the current COVID crisis, many are forced to work from home and have no idea how to do that in a healthy way.
It’s easy to get lost in working 24/7, forgetting where to draw the line between your work life and home life. When you don’t have good boundaries in place, it leads to fatigue, stress, and loss of motivation. In other words, burnout. Keep reading for tips on taking care of yourself while doing business at home.
Define Your “Work” Time
It’s very easy when working from home to just—never stop working! The lines between work life and home life become blurred if you don’t create a clear schedule and adhere to it. While it’s important to be flexible in how you schedule and structure the workday, it’s equally important to create a clear “end” to the workday.
Assess your current habits and figure out when you’re most productive and plan your work schedule around those hours. Once you reach the “end” of your workday, leave your workspace or put all work stuff out of sight, and focus on being present for your family and engaging in intentional downtime.
If you are overseeing a remote team, encourage each of your members to do the same. When virtual meetings are required, schedule them at times that you know work well for everyone and offer grace if occasionally, one of your team members is unable to make it.
Create a Designated “Work” Space
Make sure you carve out a spot in your home that’s just for work. No, there’s no one saying you can’t work in bed one morning if that’s what you feel like doing, but it’s important to at least delineate a spot in your home that signals to your brain, “This is my workspace.” Maybe it’s a quiet corner of your living room with a small desk or a cleared area on the kitchen table. If you have a spare room, you can work in a way from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house, even better! You could even set up a little backdrop for when you have to have a Zoom meeting, so things look a little more professional onscreen. Pants optional, of course.
Create a Daily Routine
This should not just be about a work routine, but a daily routine you engage in every day, from dawn until bedtime. Maybe it’s a Miracle Morning style routine where you get up, make some coffee, and do some quiet meditation and journaling before beginning your “work.” Maybe it’s an evening routine of going for a walk and enjoying the sunset as a way to wind down from the day and signal that “work” is now done.
Everyone will have a routine that looks a little different, but it’s important to establish them because they help you stay on track with keeping your work and home life boundaries clearly in focus. Encourage your team to do the same and make part of your routine checking in with them on a regular basis, not just for work but to genuinely see how they are doing personally.
Ask how they are coping with working from home, how their families are holding up under the COVID crisis, and offer some encouragement and wisdom where needed. This helps your team know you truly appreciate them during a time where they might be experiencing a high level of stress.
Make Health a Priority
This includes both mental and physical health. Being stuck inside can make people stir crazy and restless. Given the current state of our global pandemic and restrictions on where we can go and what we can do, it’s easy to succumb to feelings of being “trapped” at home. Engage in something that helps boost your mood, whether that’s reading a great book, drawing, or something else that brings you peace.
You also need to prioritize your physical health. Move your body. Schedule in regular short breaks to get up and walk around your house and stretch stiff muscles. Get outside at least once a day for sunshine and fresh air. If you are overseeing a remote team, encourage your team members to do the same. Remind them all that everyone is in this together!
By implementing simple strategies like these, you can stay sane, you can help keep your team sane, and a little dose of sanity goes a long way in preventing an episode of burnout!