One of the biggest benefits of working from home is greater flexibility. With the ability to work from anywhere in the home, at any time of the day, you can take advantage of creating a flexible schedule between work and personal responsibilities. But with this flexibility sometimes comes increased pressure. In this post, we’ll offer some tips for maintaining work life balance, so you don’t suffer from burnout.
Many people new to working from home may be realising that maintaining balance is one of the biggest challenges. As the boundaries between your personal and professional life begin to blur, it’s easy to let self-care take a back seat as you try to prove to yourself and your colleagues that you’re just as productive as being in the workplace.
This can manifest in several ways, including:
- Rationalising ticking just one more task off the to-do list.
- Sitting in front of the TV answering emails, even though you’re supposed to be relaxing.
- Finding yourself thinking about work around the clock, even during family downtime.
All of this can lead to burnout, and very quickly. While working from home is usually associated with greater job satisfaction, it is common for remote workers to go above and beyond normal working hours to put in greater effort than normal.
Because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, more people than ever are working from home. You may have found yourself going from working in an office, with a large team around you and all the interactions which come with that (from sharing a space, observing office etiquette and communicating regularly) to working completely alone, overnight. This can be a big change and requires you to analyse how you manage your workload and yourself.
We’re going to delve into how you disconnect from work when there is no psychical separation of leaving the office behind. Follow these tips and you’ll see your work life balance and productivity improve.
It’s natural to lose a couple of hours a week with ad hoc tasks and distractions while in the office. You no longer have your boss dropping by your desk for a quick brainstorm. The result of this is higher productivity in less amount of time.
To counteract no longer having these small breaks in between work, you should make the effort to get up and out of your seat more often. Go for a walk around the garden; this is a great way to switch off for 10 minutes and get some much-needed fresh air. By breaking up your day you’ll be keeping your focus and productivity levels high. Remember, you don’t need to be glued to your seat for nine hours to be as productive as you need to be.
Know When It’s Time to Finish
This may seem like an obvious one but setting cues, such as an alarm or appointment in your calendar 30 minutes before your finish time, signals when it’s time to wind down for the day. Where you would usually have visual cues, like your co-workers leaving, you now have to nudge yourself to stay aware of when it’s time to ‘clock off’. Also, it’s good practice to signal to co-workers when you have finished. If possible, set your status on email and telephone systems to ‘gone for the day’ or ‘offline’. This may discourage people to get in touch out of hours and it is only natural to want to respond.
Have a Transitional Routine
When you have finished for the day, create a practice that helps change your mindset from work to downtime. A few good ones which work for us are:
- Emptying your inbox. Knowing that your inbox is clear is a good way of signalling to yourself that you don’t need to check back in later, to reply to those emails you didn’t get around to.
- Take a shower. This can be a great way to wind down and relax after being in the same spot for 9 hours.
- Change your outfit. We mentioned in our 9 Simple Ways to Make Working From Home Work For You blog that it’s good to get dressed in the morning as though you are going to the office. This works both ways. Get into some comfy downtime clothing for the evening.
Plan the Next Day
Switching off from work can be difficult when you have tasks left on your to do list. To stop these swirling through your brain, at the end of each day take 10 minutes to plan the next day. Define your top three priorities for tomorrow, this will give you some peace of mind that your important projects will get done, so you can put your mind at ease and relax.
And to finish, another simple but overlooked tip is to completely shut down your computer or laptop. Turning the PC off will make it harder for you to causally slip back online after work hours. You may also consider logging out or deleting any unnecessary work-related apps from your phone. Inactive business apps will create added friction, which will help you keep away from a work screen when you get the urge to jump back on.
Follow these tips and you will be able to avoid added home-working stress, which could lead to burnout and the feeling of exhaustion. Self-care strategies like eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercises, regular sleep habits and a good work life balance will lead to improved work performance… and a happier, socially distanced you.