When you work from home and your commute is however long it takes for you to walk from your bed to your home workspace, it can be easy to let your professional and personal lives blend together. But without a clear boundary between being “at work” and being “at home” when working from home, your mental health may suffer.
This is often referred to as remote work burnout, a phenomenon with the power to affect any worker, in any industry as they work from home. While many remote workers feel more productive and happier when working from home, that doesn’t mean that it’s all sunshine and roses. 91% of remote workers say that unmanageable stress or frustration impacts the quality of their work and 83% say burnout can negatively impact their personal relationships.
For those who have been working remotely for years, they’ve worked hard to:
But for people who had to adjust overnight, it can be exhausting and overwhelming without having the right tools in your toolbelt. Hence the burnout.
To stay happy and healthy whether you are working or relaxing, keep these remote work self care best practices in mind.
Successfully working from home is all about boundaries and balance. Of course, this is easier said than done. But maintaining a healthy work-life balance has serious short and long term benefits.
When you work from an office, there is a clear boundary between the two parts of your life. As soon as you walk through your office door at the beginning of a new work day, you instinctively enter into “work mode”. Then, when you leave the office at the end of the day, you know that as soon as you walk through those office doors you can once again focus on your personal life. To create a sustainable work-life balance while working from home, the first step is to recreate the clear boundaries of working in-office by setting up a dedicated workspace for yourself.
All you need to create a dedicated workspace in your home is:
Once you have established a private dedicated workspace for yourself in your home, you will have the structure you need to create a more permanent, intentional balance for yourself while working from home. Enter: self care.
“Self care” is one of those terms that has had a resurgence in recent years. Of course, the concept has been around for as long as people have been caring for themselves. Ever since the term gained traction in 2016 it has been a mainstay in our shared lexicon. So, how can remote workers implement self care into their daily lives to create a healthy work-life balance? Here are our top tips for remote workers of any industry, working on any schedule no matter how flexible.
The one true expert on self care for yourself is you. There is no one-size-fits-all self care band aid that any remote worker can slap on to fix all of their problems. Instead, you’re going to have to choose self care activities for yourself that fit your lifestyle and work for you.
For example, a popular form of self care for extroverts is to engage with their favorite virtual community. For introverts who need alone time to recharge, they may opt for a solo activity like reading a book or writing in a journal. Self care is all about taking care of yourself, in whatever way that helps remote workers feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
We all have our own prime hours of the day, those when we are the most productive and creative. To protect this time and ensure we are available to take full advantage of our most productive time of the day, first we need to get in tune with our biological clocks. Whether you’re a night owl, early riser, or noon lover, developing an understanding of how the time of day affects your personal productivity is always a good idea.
A key component of self care is working to avoid burnout. If you are constantly forcing yourself to work outside of your most productive hours, you will unknowingly be on the fast track to burnout.
One way to establish boundaries in order to preserve your most productive hours is to adopt a flexible schedule. Flexible schedules are designed specifically for remote employees invested in their own self care.
Since the 9 to 5 is dead, here are some unique schedules for those who aren’t the most energized or available during traditional business hours.
Mini breaks are the new breaks, you heard it here first. Sitting stagnant and staring at a computer screen all day can very quickly take a toll on the physical and mental health of remote employees. Oftentimes, remote workers don’t even realize how little they move during the work day.
When working in the office, there are many mini breaks that naturally occur throughout your day such as popping into a coworkers office for a quick catch up on your way to the restroom or socializing in the break room while refilling your coffee mug. In the office, we take these mini breaks for granted. But when working from home, they don’t come as naturally and therefore you need to structure them in for yourself.
Because the human brain naturally works best in bursts of high activity, it’s recommended that remote employees work in a rhythm of 52 minutes on, followed by a 17 minute break.
These breaks are best spent stretching your brain or your body to give it some brief time off. Of course, it’s not necessary to go for a fifteen minute walk every hour. Instead, just listen to your body. When it’s screaming out for a break, give it one to avoid burnout.
For quick doses of rejuvenation throughout the day, try any one of these 5 minute break ideas:
When working from home, the way in which you distinguish between being “at work” and “at home” is very important— especially if you are without a full home office. One way to turn off your work brain and engage in your not-working brain is to embrace your favorite hobbies when you are off the clock. If you spend all day on your computer during the work day and then use that same computer for personal reasons after work, you aren’t really separating your working and personal time from each other.
Instead, create hobbies for yourself to enjoy after work hours that provide you with the opportunity to be creative and expressive in a new way. Regularly participate in hobbies like:
Fun activities and self care are essential to increasing mental health and happiness while working from home. Actively taking your brain away from work thoughts will actually make you more productive during working hours, decrease stress and improve overall happiness.
The secret to successfully working from home is balance and boundaries. For everything you need to perfect your work-life balance, here is our Comprehensive Guide to Remote Work.