woman working from home on a laptop - tips to avoid burnout

Where the benefits of working from home stop, burnout begins. But with a few tweaks, it’s easy to turn pressure into productivity. 

Around the world, businesses and their employees have entered a new routine. While some rejoice and celebrate the opportunity to work from home, others are weary of both their new 9-5 reality and its effects on work-life balance. 

Remote employees are primed to feel increased pressure, anxiety, and loneliness as the lines blur between work and non-work related activities. Doubling as their office and home, workers often feel constantly ‘on’, despite the negative effect this could have for their well-being. 

Described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a syndrome stemming from mismanaged, chronic work stress, burnout encompasses “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”

And paired with the pressure to reach goals and hit deadlines, along with other duties such as managing a newly homebound team, it is not surprising that according to Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2020 report, 18% of remote employees say that unplugging after work is their biggest challenge.

If you are beginning to feel the effects of mismanaged work-related stress, consider these tips to avoid burnout and staying productive while working from home: 

1. Set A Schedule and Prioritize

Whether you feel most productive in the early morning or late afternoon, try maintaining a schedule where your most important tasks can be prioritized according to your productivity levels. 

No matter if you prefer to plan things out on pen and paper or find calendar reminders beneficial, marking tasks from least to greatest importance and scheduling them in blocks of time will help to eliminate feelings of dread by the end of your day. 

As household errands may creep up, consider them within your schedule. Making sure to acknowledge unrelated tasks, especially at times where motivation may be low, is an optimal way to take a break and feel accomplished.

2. Know When To Turn ‘Off’

Along with prioritizing and setting a schedule, knowing when to turn off is arguably one of the most important steps in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. The pressure to perform cannot outweigh your mental health. Not only will you feel refreshed and relaxed, but time off is necessary to recharge in both your professional and personal life. 

Setting boundaries for work hours and breaks, and acknowledging them with your supervisor is a great first step to hold yourself accountable while reclaiming time for whatever you love to do — whether that means working out, listening to your favourite podcast, or socializing with friends and family. 

3. Have A Dedicated Office Space 

Having a dedicated workspace will not only physically, but mentally separate your day between work time and personal time (aka the time to finally binge-watch the latest flick on Netflix).

If maintaining a morning routine has not been enough to signify that you are ready to start your day, carving out space with a proper desk and comfortable chair will mimic that in-office feeling, void of home-related distractions. If a monitor or external keyboard was part of your pre-pandemic setup, aim to replicate that environment at home to help avoid burnout. 

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