Many of us have been working from home for more than a few months now due to the ongoing lockdown and social distancing. It’s been hard to adjust and stay productive throughout this whole situation; not only because of the stress regarding the Coronavirus, but also the change in our social circumstances and living situations. It is easy for us to overwhelm ourselves when we are working from home. It is important to do certain things to avoid facing burn-out.
I faced some demotivating circumstances when I had to move home to my parents’ house and work from my childhood bedroom at the beginning of lockdown. This made working from home hard as I had very little workspace. Not only that, but I was sharing the house with two other professionals who were working from home at the same time as me. The internet was overloaded and we all had to work in separate spaces so as not to interrupt each other. This left me feeling alone, frustrated and demotivated!
Being stuck indoors in a flat or flatshare is hard, especially when your only opportunity to get out is during daily exercise or when you’re getting groceries. Sadly that was, and still is, the reality for a lot of people during the lockdown period. These situations are not great for your mental health, and definitely not great for your productivity levels. As such, burn-out is rife thanks to lockdown. Whether you’re still working from home or have since been able to return to the workspace, here is how to tackle burn-out in whichever form it has appeared.
Make A Dedicated Workspace
Since I returned to my flat, I’ve been working to transform an area of my living room into a workspace. For me, this meant purchasing a full-size desk, rather than working at my dining room table. I also had to complete a work assessment through my Human Resources team in order to get the proper equipment I needed to work effectively. For example, I had been working on my personal laptop which was also my TV and games console. This meant that whenever I had a break or time to relax over the weekend, I was still staring at the same screen I use to work on. Separating break time and work time is easier if they are on different computers. By having another screen, I was able to create a ‘workstation’ that I could leave when I wasn’t working. Not all offices can provide equipment, but talk to your line manager and HR teams about what can be offered to create a healthier work set-up.
Set A Routine
Routines are very important to avoid burn-out, particularly when you’re working from home. It’s very easy to slip into the habit of overworking at home, which can be a direct cause of burn-out. Be sure to take your full lunch break away from your workspace, whether that means going for a walk, cooking or catching up with a friend. Even something as simple as moving into a different room can help immensely.
Set a reminder to walk at least once an hour. Sitting at a desk for hours on end is not good for your health, eye-sight or your concentration levels. Even if you simply stand and stretch once an hour, this will help you to keep productive and avoid burn-out.
Sign-off At The End Of The Day
One thing I was in the habit of doing at the beginning of lockdown was forgetting to sign-off. Don’t just close your laptop at the end of the day. Instead, send your co-workers a message and tell them that you’re signing off and will speak to them tomorrow. Close all of the tabs you have open, any word documents or spreadsheets that you were working on and then shut down your computer. This will prevent you from opening your screen later and being ambushed by a full inbox or a project you’re halfway through completing. Starting the day with a clean slate is much better for your mental health than a never-ending stream of work. This is especially important if you use your personal laptop for work.
Adopt A Hobby
A hobby is a really useful tool for beating burn-out. It can be as simple as reading, watching a new TV show or doing some work on your home. For me, it is cooking a nice meal after work. I would avoid any frozen food and try to create a freshly cooked, thought out dish. I like to look up recipes, get the ingredients from the store and then go to town in my kitchen. In the background, I usually have a TV show or a podcast playing. This is my favourite way to wind down after a long day of work. If you don’t have something to look forward to after work, it’s very hard to switch off. That’s why I recommend having a hobby or a task to complete after work is done.
Create a to-do list of things that need doing around the house. If you can’t think of anything to do, then it is the perfect time to clean. Try to hoover, clean surfaces or do the dishes. If you’re looking for something more fun, try artwork, writing, reading, yoga or some other form of activity away from a screen where possible.
Socialise As Much As You Can
The one good thing about lockdown is that we’re all in the same boat, so we can all sympathise with and support one another. There’s a reason so many Zoom Quizzes were set up during the first half of lockdown. We all want something to look forward to and to get a chance to socialise. While many of us now have Zoom fatigue, it’s still a good way to socialise with people you’re unable to visit in person. There are so many different ways to communicate. I now have an online book club, games night and family chat every week to look forward to, as well as meet-ups in person.
Burn-out is entirely natural and also extremely beatable. Don’t just sit around and wait for it to pass. As much as you feel like there’s nothing you can do about it, try these five simple things and you’ll feel better in no time.