Tips To Avoid Work-From-Home Burnout 05/06/2020 – MediaPost Communications - Freelance Rack

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Tips To Avoid Work-From-Home Burnout 05/06/2020 – MediaPost Communications

Some of us are going on nine weeks of working from home.  That by itself may be no big deal — but it is when coupled with the state of the world today.  In fact, this much time spent working from home is creating burnout, which can be very difficult.

The challenge is not so much the work-from-home concept, but the fact that the lines between work and personal are blurring even more than in the past.   Most of the time in our previous lives, commuting acted as a bookend that delineated our time focused on working in the office and being at home, focused on family.  

Even those of us who typically would jump back online in the evening to check in and wrap up some work would have that break in the day to give a little distance and separation from the office.  

Now your office exists in every room of your house and is accompanied by piano lessons, homeschooling and more in the background.  Headphones can drown out some of the world, but not all of it.  

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This also becomes even more heavily intensified when you realize that video calls are more draining than being there in person.  Video requires a level of focus that you don’t actually have to have when you are in a room engaging with others.

The new paradigm of working from home requires you to establish boundaries.  One of the most important is scheduling a start, middle and end of your day.

You may get thrown off once a week, but try hard to maintain those parameters.  Your day could start at 7 a.m. or later, but you should always consider when you take your breaks and your lunch and at what time you wrap up the day.  

If you set those parameters in advance, you know your day is bound by time. Then there are specific projects you’re working on. Projects are never really over, but you can fix a time for them.  If you give yourself two hour to work on a project, you will know when that time ends, you have to move onto something else.  That project may not be complete, but you can always come back to it with a fresh set of eyes and a willing mind.  

You also have to schedule “brain time.”  I tend to schedule three two-hour blocks through the week to think and knock stuff off my massive to-do list.  I don’t set the expectation that I will get them all done, but I do set aside the time to make progress.  Sometimes they get accomplished outright, while with others I just move the ball down the field and ensure that I am making progress.  

For me, the most difficult thing to accept is stagnation.  I feel like a shark.  When sharks stop swimming, they die.  I need to keep swimming and making progress or I feel like I’m failing.

One more thing I find valuable — and I am probably the worst when it comes to this practice — is to deal with distractions.  One way I am blatantly stealing from author Nir Eyal. In his approach, you don’t give in to a distraction for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, if it still feels like something you should do, you go for it.  Most of the time you realize that distraction wasn’t necessary.  

Distraction are a natural part of life.  They mean your brain is working!  You can embrace them by not belittling them.  Just respond when the time is right rather than right away.

Hopefully a couple of these nuggets of wisdom will help you to avoid burnout over the next few weeks as we all work toward the same goals of finding better balance in our work and personal lives.  Good luck!



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