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E-Quipped to... Prevent Work From Home Burnout
This newsletter refers to Spurn the Burn, an article found on my website.
Work from home burnout is an extremely common phenomenon right now. According to an Eagle Hill Consulting survey conducted in August 2020, 58% of workers said they were burned out, with only one in three individuals indicating that the cause was directly related to the COVID pandemic.
The survey reports that the leading cause for the burnout was workload (47%), while other causes were stated as:
Before you dismiss burnout with the thought, “Well, that’s not me”, just stop and think about it. 58% is more than half of remote workers. It’s more than one in every two. So it could easily be YOU that is burning out. Can you even recognise it? And would you know what to do about it?
Image by: Michele Finotto
What is Burnout?
Burnout as an occupational phenomenon resulting from chronic workplace stress that is characterized by three dimensions: The experience of exhaustion, where the individuals who suffer from it become cynical toward the value of their occupation and doubt their ability to perform.
So What can I do if I Already Have Burnout and how can I Prevent Work From Home Burnout?
Going back to the fire analogy I used in my previous newsletter, a burned-out fire is not going to re-ignite itself. We need to start the fire again with a fresh load of fuel and then we need to keep supplying the fire with fuel to keep it burning.
In practice, it means that if you work from home – and this includes work from home professionals, freelancers, digital nomads, independent contractors, managers, and employers – you must strive to prioritize your well-being and establish a work-life balance. A mix of work and play is essential because it is the fun, relaxing and creative things we do that become the fuel to keep us burning.
Taking the time to prioritize your well-being will help you both personally and professionally because both your energy and your productivity will be enhanced. With the added stressors that current global events are foisting upon society, it’s vital to ensure that your mental health does not suffer.
So, what can remote workers do? There are many tried and tested tactics, but you might need to get a little more creative too, because of the lifestyle changes forced by COVID.
Here are 8 tips to consider:
1. Only invest your time and energy into the things that you can control.
Don’t stress about all the rest.
2. Schedule time in your calendar for ALL the things you choose to do, not just work and chores.
Create a new “time block” calendar where you enter blocks of time for all the different aspects of your life over a one year period. Some things will happen daily, some weekly, some monthly and some only once or twice a year, but schedule them all in to make sure that you have a good work life balance.
Schedule in time for sleeping, food preparation and eating, domestic chores, physical activity, spiritual practice, medical check-ups, socialising, hobbies etc. as well as your work hours.
3. Disconnect and take a vacation
We spend our days glued to our laptops, monitors, tablets, and smartphones. We are not meant to be permanently attached to technology. Unplug. Turn off your work devices on the weekends or after your workday.
Also, just because you work from home doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a vacation or some time off. Travel may be difficult or impossible at the moment, but you can still schedule some time off and give yourself a break. Do the fun things you usually wouldn’t have time to do or simply do nothing and just relax.
Consider taking a staycation or mini-vacation. Even if you must stay at home, pretend you are on holiday and only do holiday-mood things
4. Set boundaries and establish a daily routine (with breaks!)
A clear separation between business and personal hours is vital. Ensure that quality time with family or personal time is not interrupted by emails, phone calls, video meetings, or unfinished projects.
Set a start and end time for your workday, (consider adding your business hours availability on the signature line of your email), and establish times for regular breaks. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have to work continuously.
5. Set up a designated workspace
This way, when your workday is over, you can “leave” work.
6. Get physical to improve your mood
A great way to relieve stress is by adding physical activity to your daily routine. Work from home professionals must include some form of exercise since it’s simply not healthy to be sedentary all day.
7. Eliminate artificial boosters or 'crutches'
If you are already experiencing work from home burnout symptoms, don’t mask them by using medication or alternate substances like alcohol. If you’re taking medications or drinking to the point where it’s necessary to help you get through the day, consider seeking professional help.
Change to more healthy drink options like pure water and herbal teas. Practice healthier options like therapy, meditation, yoga and journaling to relieve stress and anxiety.
8. Ask For help if you need It
No matter how well you think you have been dealing with current events, the fact of the matter is, stress has affected almost everyone’s levels of productivity.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, talk to a mental health professional. If it’s work-related, talk to your boss or manager regarding any deadlines or projects that may be too much for you.
Implementing these strategies takes conscious effort, but it is well worth it.
There are more ideas in my article Spurn the Burn.
Thank you for the Feedback
Thanks to Lieze-mari, Anne, Joao, Diann, Julie, Suntosh, Karl and Debbie for the feedback after the last newsletter.
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You may have been forwarded this email by a friend. In that case, allow me to introduce myself. I am a psychologist, speaker, trainer, coach and hat lover based in Kloof, a suburb of Durban, South Africa. I also do online counselling and coaching and I have clients all over the world.
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