Preventing work-from-home burnout: 10 revitalizing tips
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Many remote workers love the freedom and flexibility that comes with working from home, but learning how to thrive in the digital office can become an ongoing challenge.
If you've been feeling exhausted, anxious or unmotivated, you may be experiencing some of the symptoms of work-from-home burnout.
This guide will cover some tips for preventing work-from-home burnout that can help you in creating a healthier home-life balance and setting boundaries that support your mental wellbeing.
10 tips for preventing work-from-home burnout
1. Create a designated workspace of your own.
Once you get used to working remotely, it can start to feel like your whole house is your cubicle. Having a designated workspace is a good way to start setting some mental boundaries.
This doesn't have to be a full-blown office or an elaborate setup. Whether it's a full desk or a foldaway table, having a designated workspace gives you a way to walk away during your breaks and at the end of the day.
Start by picking an area or a surface that you can dedicate solely to work. If you have regular video meetings, try choosing a place where you won’t have to worry about background noise or household traffic.
Then, fine-tune your new home office to address your biggest pain points. If you feel uncomfortable in your workstation, a standing desk attachment or ergonomic office chair could put you at ease. Bringing in a soft lamp lighting could help you feel more awake and alert.
2. Set a consistent work schedule.
Many people love the flexibility remote work provides, but it is possible that your job becomes too flexible while working from home. It's easy to wind up starting earlier and staying on later each day.
That's why it's so important to define your regular working hours and communicate them with your leader, coworkers and customers. If they know when your day ends, you're more likely to get important emails, messages and phone calls during your active hours.
Some email platforms also give you the option to update your work hours so that your out-of-office hours are grayed out in your calendar. Not only will this reinforce your schedule with your teammates but having a visual of your day’s end to help keep you on track.
If you need an extra nudge, you can try setting a daily "leave work" calendar invite to remind yourself to wrap up your day.
3. Take breaks frequently.
It's easy to get sucked into your computer when working from home. There are times when you get in the zone and before you know it, it's lunchtime.
It feels good to blast through your to-do list, but staring at a screen for hours on end can result in eye strain, headaches and vision problems. Taking regular breaks gives your eyes some time away from the computer screen and your mind a chance to rest.
The Health and Safety Executive recommends a five- to 10-minute break every hour over a 15-minute break every few hours. You could use this time to stretch, get some steps in, take in the sunlight, brew some coffee or grab a snack.
If short, frequent breaks aren’t possible in your work, just taking a moment to glance away from your desktop can make a huge difference in managing digital eyestrain. The American Optometric Association recommends following the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
It can also be tempting to skip lunch when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work but doing so can be counterintuitive to treating burnout. According to a recent survey by Tork, North American workers who take a lunch break every day score higher in job satisfaction and productivity.
4. Find an activity that's meaningful and de-stressing.
It’s easy to switch to housekeeping mode while working remotely but taking breaks doesn't have the same effect if you end up cramming them with all the chores on your to-do list.
You'll benefit more from finding a meaningful and de-stressing hobby that you can work into your work-authorized breaks. That could mean scheduling a 30-minute walk during lunch or taking 15 minutes to stretch and do yoga during a shorter break.
5. Make your calendar work for you.
Don't be afraid to use your work calendar to schedule your day outside of meetings. Creating appointments for tasks will create a clear picture of what needs to be accomplished and ensure there’s enough time to get it all done.
You can start by blocking out some time at the start or end of the day to handle small everyday tasks, like scheduling meetings and responding to emails.
Depending on your work situation, you could use the recurring meeting feature to schedule your meal period and any other regular breaks. Having those breaks blocked off at the same time every day will ensure you have time to decompress and help you build an effective routine.
6. Make time for human interaction.
Working from home can leave you feeling isolated if you don't put in some extra effort to connect with others.
Whether it's chatting with a coworker throughout the day or speaking with your leader through a virtual meeting versus email, remembering to make time for human interaction can make all the difference.
If you’re struggling with breaking the silence, you can start by joining meetings a few minutes early. This is a great time to exchange some small talk and build a rapport with colleagues while others are still hopping on the call.
7. Have an accountability buddy.
Most of us have at least a few coworkers who are handling similar jobs and have similar schedules. If you're struggling with working from home or feeling burnt out, there's a good chance that some of your coworkers are in the same boat. Once you start building those workplace connections, find a go-to coworker you can chat with throughout the day to empathize with and motivate each other.
8. Take steps to beat "Zoom fatigue."
As a remote worker, video meetings are a big part of my job. They give us the chance to connect with people on a more personal level than through a call. However, a full day of video meetings can leave you feeling exhausted.
One major culprit is the urge to multitask. It’s easier to type out an email during a virtual meeting than in a conference room surrounded by colleagues. Not only is it mentally taxing but the Association for Psychological Science has found that it reduces overall performance by 40%. Start by trying to be more present in your meetings and closing any additional windows on your desktop.
Seeing yourself in that little box also makes it easy to fixate on things like your facial expressions, posture and general appearance. Some video communication apps give you the option to turn off "self view" during video meetings without turning off your camera. This way, you can connect with people face-to-face without the nagging urge to check how you look.
9. Make time to wake up before work and decompress after.
With a traditional commute, you have some time built into your day to transition from your home life to work. When you start working from home, you lose that part of your routine.
Creating a structured at-home morning routine will help deter you from rolling out of bed and starting your workday dazed. Commit to readopting classic morning habits like showering, picking out work-appropriate attire, eating breakfast and putting on a pot of coffee.
Then, find an activity that lets you reflect and decompress as you would during your commute. That could be as straightforward as drafting a to-do list, or you can engage in mind-freeing activities like exercise, stretching, yoga or guided meditation.
Also schedule some time immediately after you clock out to decompress so you can leave your work at your desk.
10. Use your vacation and sick days.
One perk of working from home is that you don't necessarily have to miss work if you wake up feeling a little under the weather.
Still, forcing yourself to work while ill can sabotage your immune system's efforts in the long run. Rest is a crucial part of recovery and taking a sick day will allow your body to devote more resources to fighting the virus.
The same goes for vacation days. You don't need to have big plans to justify taking time away from your workstation. Sometimes a leisure day is exactly what you need to relax, focus on your mental health and recharge.
Find more ways to thrive while working from home
Check out more of our blogs with advice from remote and hybrid Schneider associates that can help you overcome work from home burnout.
Sierra Berg is a Corporate Recruiter who joined Schneider in 2021. She began her career in the staffing industry after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stephens Point in 2019. In her current role, Sierra specializes in recruiting diesel technicians and other maintenance professionals to support Schneider's nationwide shop network.