How to understand the signs of burnout when working from home and how to contain them.

How to understand the signs of burnout when working from home and how to contain them

People who work from home also experience several challenges and burnout is the most common one. The feeling of total exhaustion- mentally, emotionally and physically– when working from home is real. During these moments, your motivation will be absent. Productivity levels drop to the floor as well. Most times, many of us experience these burnout feeling without even realizing we are going through a moment of stress and possible depression. The good thing is that it is fairly easy to contain a burnout when working from home. This article shows you how to understand these burnout signs and how you can easily contain them and increase your productivity levels.

Signs of burnout when working from home

As noted here, when you find yourself experiencing deep emotional, physical and mental drain when working from home, chances are that you could be experiencing burnout. What are the signs to look out for here?

Behavioral changes

Your behavior changes drastically when the exhaustion settles in. Most people start loathing taking care of their responsibilities – work-related and family-related responsibilities. The thought of just waking up in the morning to do chores is depressing. You tend to withdraw from these responsibilities or procrastinate as much as you can. I know I personally get super irritable when I feel overwhelmed.

Isolation is one of the biggest challenges among people who work from home. When you are forced to stay at home in an unstructured environment, you may not be able to function optimally and this may lead you into burnout.

Emotional changes

Self-doubt starts creeping in when working from home. No matter how good you are, there will always be a moment when you doubt yourself and your capabilities when working at home. It’s called imposter syndrome. It makes you feel like a fraud- Like you are not worth what you say you are. This makes you lose all motivation to work from home and this lack of motivation overshadows what you have already accomplished in the past. Then the feeling of helplessness starts to creep in. You start thinking that there is no way around it.

Physical signs and changes

Have you ever woken up in the morning feeling more tired than you were when you went to bed the previous night? And no, we are not talking about poor sleeping habits here. Our brain is synchronized to communicate with our bodies. When you have no motivation or liking for what you are waking up to do, the brain sends some sort of a message and your body reacts, making you feel fatigued even before you get down to work. Many people who work from home complain of headaches now and then, especially during the moments when they are feeling overwhelmed with their work.

You start eating poorly and doing little or no exercise. You lack the physical energy to do most of the things you know you are supposed to do. There is simply no drive. Your body does not want to respond to your wishes. When this goes on for long, it is not surprising to find people falling ill more often. Stress leads to your immune system not being on POINT. You may have been working in a burnout bubble for so long without even realizing it.

How to contain these burnout signs

When you find yourself experiencing any of the signs or changes noted above, you need to look at your environment keenly. Your source of burnout is lurking there, somewhere. Some of the common sources of burnouts when working from home include work-related challenges, family issues, and socially-charged challenges.

Tackling work-related challenges

These could be many and diverse, depending on where you work and the kind of work you do. A common challenge here is the feeling that you have no control over what you do. When working from home, the expectation is that you deliver a certain milestone within a certain deadline. Your boss is not there to supervise you or pressure you into working. Unfortunately for most people who work from home, their bosses expect them to be on their beck and call all the time. 

Since you also want to be with your family, the pressure from your work will start mounting. To avoid this, have a conversation with your boss and designate certain working hours. You can dedicate these hours to work and unplug when the time is over. Use the rest of the time to be with your family.

I personally try to set standard hours for myself – some days it works and others it does BUT it’s drastically helped me feel more in control of my schedule and how I manage my time. I am also trying to wake up in the morning before the baby and the “work” day starts so I can have my “me time” with a cup of tea and just think about what I’d like to do today. You could also take that time to go for a morning walk or exercise!

Tackling family-related challenges

If you are a woman, a lot is waiting on your to-do list on any given day. Your family has to eat, your house requires your attention, there are clothes to launder and so much to do around the house. And your boss is also awaiting your input. How do you juggle between all these activities?

Those who have an understanding spouse or family members have it easier than others. They get help. Those who are not so lucky will always be feeling overwhelmed. They dread waking up in the morning when they think of the kind of chores that await them. To solve this you can wake up early before your work day, you could designate certain days to handle certain tasks, hire a helper or talk with your family members. Let them understand that your work is also important and they should help you when you feel overwhelmed.

Carl and I make a schedule, when we’re able to switch on and off with the baby, when we are busy the other person jumps in as best as possible to help. Especially since we are both working from home while juggling a 7 month old! We also schedule in our date nights at home and which nights we just wanna do our own thing. It’s helped a lot – we don’t argue and its helped our communication a lot.

Tackling socially-generated challenges

Working from home can get lonely and isolated. The only real people you come into contact with are your family members. Sometimes the lack of human contact and social togetherness can be a limiting factor. You might need to see and talk to actual people to wade off these isolation feelings.

I find having happy hours with my friends via FaceTime or even having “family” get togethers has really helped me not feel so alone in the times we’re currently in. (Knee deep in Coronavirus) Thankfully we have this technology to help us not seem so far apart.

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Tips for Shutting Down at the End of the Day While Working From Home

When you’re working from home it can sometimes be incredibly challenging to turn off your work brain and get back into home mode. That is why I’ve put together a list of tips to help you shut off at the end of the day while working from home.

Change Your Clothes

One of the biggest things you can do to help yourself turn your work brain off at the end of the day and move into at home mode is to change your clothes. What’s that you say, you’ve been working in your PJs? While that may feel great for your body it is actually doing harm to your mind. You don’t have to put on a tie or do makeup if you don’t want to, but for some people, it makes all the difference! Taking those work clothes off at the end of your workday will help you differentiate between the two times of day, home and work.

Have a Set Time for Your Work Day to End

You might think that because you’re working from home this means you can get up in the middle of the day and do laundry or take out the trash. But you should be treating your work time as though it were time you’re not at home. This means no household chores during work time and no work during home time. Have a set time for your workday to begin and end each day. I recommend keeping the same hours you would at work. So if you have a 9-5 office job, work 9-5 at home.

Turn on Do Not Disturb

At the end of the day turn on your do not disturb settings for Slack and any other tools your office uses. Don’t let your coworkers bother you after hours because they may not be following the rules for having set working hours and they’ll end up dragging you into something in your off time. Limit the opportunities for work to creep back into your life. I turn this on every day at 5pm. It’s helped me stop working on time. I also recommend (if you can) leaving your phone in the other room and enjoy your evening.

Close the Office Door for the Day

At the end of the day close your home office’s door and don’t go back into the room until work starts the following day. If this isn’t possible, maybe because you’re working from your bedroom or living room then pack away your laptop and phone in your work bag. Doing this creates a clear barrier between work and home. If you do end up wanting to use your home office again make sure that you spend some time away from the room making dinner or spending time chatting with family. This will give your brain time to transition away from work so the next time you go into the room you’re not thinking about work anymore and you can instead focus on playing a game or whatever else it was you were going to do.

Develop an Evening Routine

Finally, you should develop an evening routine that works for you and your family. This begins by having a set time for work to end, turning on your do not disturb, then packing away work for the night in whatever way works for you. What you do after that is entirely up to you. But try to make it the same every workday. 

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How To Organize your Work at Home Day.

If you are already working from home then you are pretty aware of all the benefits that come from being your own boss. The benefits go far beyond just the flexibility of setting your own hours, as you get more family time and time to focus on what you enjoy doing in life. Now that you are working from home and reaping the benefits from that chosen career path, it’s time to learn how to organize your work at home day so that you can continue enjoying the work at home benefits. 

While everyone works differently, there is a common key method to organizing your work at home day that stands true across the board, while reviewing the tips shared below, please think about how each will benefit you or not benefit you and proceed with implementing only the most beneficial options for your work at home mindset:

  • Maintain Regular Work Hours – set a consistent work schedule, and stick to it! Seriously, this is the number one area where people go from work at home success to work at home failure. Know what hours you will be able to stick firm with and set those hours in place. 
  • Take Legitimate Breaks – just as you would at an outside-of-the-home job, be sure to take legitimate breaks throughout your work at home day. This includes taking a lunch break as well as two fifteen minute breaks, so as long as you are putting in an average 8 hour work day.
  • Have Dedicated Work Equipment – this means all equipment you need and have for working from home must be solely used for work at home purposes only. Do not allow your kids to play on your work computer, printer or any other device dedicated to your business. 
  • Set Deadlines – always work with deadlines, this keeps you held accountable and on track throughout your day. The best way to set deadlines is to start each day with a list of tasks you must complete in level of priority, so you end your work at home day feeling accomplished. 
  • Set Boundaries with Family – always, always, always maintain a proper boundary with family when work time is in place, you may be home to spend more time with them but if you are not staying dedicated to work during your work hours you won’t be successful. 

It is great to have the luxury of working from home and it can be quite lucrative for many, the key is to find a way to use some of the tips to organize your work at home day listed above in a suitable format for your own work at home success. 

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