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A woman sitting at her laptop while pinching her nose from stress. She has been working from home during the pandemic for almost a year and she is feeling overwhelmed.

5 Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout While Working from Home

You probably remember it as if it were yesterday - the notice that as of now, all employees will be working from home.

For me, it was an early Friday morning in the middle of March. The news had been the same the past few days, covering nothing but the spread and danger of COVID-19. I received an email from work: “All offices around the world are shutting down as of today. We appreciate your cooperation. We will do anything we can to make working from home as positive and efficient as possible for you.”

Before we knew it, the whole world was locking down. Suddenly, you found yourself working from home. Maybe you are still working from home, even now.

A few months ago, there were only 3.6% of employed Americans working from home for 20+ hours. Suddenly, you and more than half of all American workers are now in this situation.

While this has brought many positive developments, it also holds countless struggles from financial fears to psychological strains. In fact, 60% of surveyed Americans reported struggling with keeping a healthy work-life balance.

After settling in the past few months, an interesting shift took place. Over 80% of Americans say that they would like to continue to work from home, at least weekly.

Many have found different ways of ensuring that working from home does not lead to burnout, but some have not. If you are still trying to balance healthy habits for yourself while working from home, read on to discover 5 ways to keep a work-life balance from your living room.

1. Invest in a Morning Routine to Kick-Start Your Day

How tempting it is to not put on make-up. How tempting it is to skip your usual yoga practice at lunch. How tempting it is to not brush your hair and just toss it up in a messy bun!

When you are thrown in a situation where there is no one to judge, it is easy to just let it go. But before we know it, we find ourselves in a spiral that is heading downwards.

In times of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to find a morning routine that works for you. When putting it together, you should consider your entire self: body, mind, and soul.

Morning Routine for the Body

Think of all the time you are saving on the commute to the office. Why not set the alarm for the same time, but invest in your body first thing in the morning?

Morning Routine for the Mind & Soul

During this period of extreme uncertainty, it is more important than ever to take care of your mental well-being. Since everyone has a unique way of taking care of themselves, here are some points that might guide you as inspiration:

  • Journaling (Like The 6-Minute Diary or the daily 3 pages as described in The Artist’s Way)
  • Reading something other than the news (This could be your favorite magazine, a novel, or even a cookbook)
  • Meditation
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Writing a to-do list to clear your mind of anything that may come up to distract you throughout the day

Get into the routine: Try a daily guided meditation that will help soothe your soul, calm your mind, and guide your day with intention.

2. Create a Dedicated Home Office Space

Not everyone has an extra office room at home, or even a nice desk to work at. So how can you create a space that is dedicated to working, if you don’t have much space in your cozy home?

How about you use part of your dining room table? Simply putting up some plants in the middle would create separation, and allow you to set up all things you need. Once you finish work, you can leave it, hiding everything away behind big leaves.

If you do have space for a new table in your home, consider building your own desk to make working from home a better experience. Alternatively, you can get creative with the furniture you already have. There is a lot of inspiration on how to make working from home feel like you are in your own little office.

Person writing in a personal day planner.

3. Plan Your Time Carefully

Initially, a majority of companies worried about their employees being lazy and unproductive from home. As time passed, they were definitely proven wrong: 83% of people reported to be working at least the same, often even more hours than usual.

To avoid a scenario where you are still checking your emails at 8 PM in front of the TV because, well, theoretically you are still in the office, it is extremely important to set boundaries and plan your time carefully and intentionally.

Here are 4 simple actions you can take to plan a productive, balanced day:

  • Before you start your day, reflect on your priorities and block time in your calendar. These priorities are not only work-related. They also include lunch, a bit of fresh air, maybe picking up the kids. If you need help to define your priorities, you can use the Eisenhower Matrix.
  • If you start a task, set a timer for yourself. By creating your own deadline, focus will come more naturally, and distractions are less likely to affect you.
  • Say no! This is not easy for most of us. If you feel the need to learn more about the power of no, Emilie Aries has some valuable input.
  • Self-care Sunday does not always have to mean a bubble bath and face mask. How about you dedicate your next Sunday to organizing your life, and organizing your mind?

4. Don’t Compromise on Necessities

Being locked in at home for a long period of time left many with feelings of anxiety. Everyone worried more than usual, stressed over the tiniest things, and it felt like humanity, in general, was on edge.

Lunch break? Oh, I’ll just skip that today. I don’t feel like cooking and anyways, there’s so much other stuff to do.

A stroll through the backyard? Not really worth the time.

Dinner? Oh well, let’s just order in. Comfort food is what we need and deserve.

What you really need and deserve are breaks, nutritious food, and lots of fresh air.

Blocking time for these things should be your top priority. These things that come naturally in our day to day life, suddenly need planning and attention. The benefits of spending time in nature will show within no time.

5. Plan Virtual Meetings With Colleagues

You might be good friends with your colleagues, or you might barely say hello. Either way, not having these people around will affect you. You were torn out of a well-known environment with familiar faces, with whom you normally spend several hours. This change seldom goes unnoticed.

Even if you have your family or close friends around while working, you might experience workplace loneliness. This may have a great effect on your personal work-life balance.

If it weren’t for the technological advancement and digital affinity of a majority of people, working from home would not have been possible. So why not make use of it, to feel less lonely?

A person on a coffee break with their coworkers.

Here are a few things you can implement throughout your day:

  • Lunch break together via Zoom.
  • Coffee breaks (make sure you schedule them, as the calendar fills up with meetings quicker than usual while working from home).
  • Team meetings via Zoom. And yes, with video.
  • Talk about a “highlight” or “lowlight” of the day. At the end of the day, all team members meet in Zoom and share their highlight and lowlight. This does not only allow for self-reflection; it also makes you feel closer to the others.
  • If you can work on projects with others, try to involve new people or try to increase the exchange via phone or video conference.

A Healthy Work-Life Balance WFH Starts With You

If you are still working from home, this is probably not the first article you have read on “how to not go insane during a pandemic.” At the end of the day, it affects everyone on a very personal level. And so, the solutions to finding the perfect work-life balance are also extremely personal.

It all starts with focusing on yourself. Then, trying to create an environment that brings you joy. Try new things, talk to friends and strangers, and figure out how working from home could maybe even be a great gift to you.

Read more on how to stay motivated and healthy while working from home.

Allison Heidrich

Allison Heidrich

Born and raised in Germany by her American mother, the travel bug got to Allison at a young age. Allison's curiosity has not only led her around the globe, but also a whole lot closer to herself. While still figuring out her place in the world, she is slowly finding... Read More

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