If you’re working from home, you’ve probably experienced the difficulty of balancing your time. Typical office jobs usually have set clock-in and go-home times, and in between the two you perform work and take scheduled breaks. If you don’t adapt to this new schedule quickly enough, you may experience burnout, which will severely hamper your productivity. Let’s explore some ways you can prevent burnout in a home office.
1. Set Times for Work and Play
One problem with working from home is that the borders between work and play begin to blur. It’s not like a traditional office where everything happens at predetermined times; you could technically work all day without being stopped.
Because of this, you may find that work will bleed into your rest time, and vice versa. If play begins to leak into work, you’re losing focus of what you’re working on. Likewise, if work begins to leak into play, it means you’re not resting as much as you should.
You may feel guilty for taking breaks, as if you’re “being lazy” or “wasting time.” However, it’s important to have a block of time where you can relax without work hovering over your head.
You may feel you should do little bits of work during a break, but that’s like going to sleep and waking yourself up every hour to do a little bit of work. There’s a good chance you’ll wake up in the morning groggy and tired because your rest kept getting interrupted.
As such, set times for when you will work and when you will take a break. If you like rigid schedules, set work and rest times and focus on nothing but those tasks when the time comes. If you’re more freeform, set solid times as you go through the day (e.g. “Once I’ve finished this report, I’ll take an hour break”).
2. Manage Your Stress Level
In addition to the above point, if you are blurring the line between work and play, you may find yourself working longer and longer hours everyday. We all know that work will continue to pile up regardless of the amount of hours you put in, and your stress level will increase exponentially as you work longer hours.
The first thing to do is to beware of your stress level. Are you feeling nervous, experiencing an anxiety when you can’t get your work done? Are you having body aches, headaches, migraines, etc.? These are some simple signs of stress.
You can either make use of technology to help you reduce stress, or make use of these breathing techniques.
The most important thing is to take regular breaks, and strictly follow the first tip listed above.
3. Be Sure to Take Enough Breaks
On the subject of breaks, be sure you’re taking enough of them. If you’re pushing yourself to work often, your breaks may not be sufficient enough to keep you going.
As such, be sure to take breaks when you begin to feel tired and sluggish. Working through tiredness can cause more than just burnout – it can also damage your wrists and cause RSI. Don’t allow a workaholic attitude to get in the way of your rests.
4. Take the Weekends Off
Office workers take the weekends off, so why shouldn’t you? Unfortunately, if you’re keen on work, you may feel guilt and shame creep up as you spend a Saturday morning watching TV in your pajamas. You could be at your desk working but instead you’re “wasting time.”
The danger of obeying this feeling is that you don’t have days to rejuvenate and recharge for the coming week. Think of weekends as the time where you refill your productivity car with gas so it can continue driving for the coming week. If you spend your weekend driving the car instead of refuelling, you may end up running out of gas mid-workweek.
5. Get Out of the Office
When you’re working from home, there’s a lack of scenery change. At an office, you have the transit to and from work, at your desk, and when you’re back home. In a home office, your work and play happen in the same building (or even the same room), and your “daily commute” is walking down the corridor with coffee in hand.
As such, it’s a good idea to leave your home every so often. If you can, hire out an office to work from instead of staying home. If you can’t do that, try taking the laptop to a café. If that isn’t your style, simply spend some time exercising, shopping, or meeting friends outside every once in a while.
Learn Not to Burn
If you are burned out, it could take a long time to recover, so it’s essential to take the steps necessary to prevent burnout when working in a home office. Remember, taking breaks doesn’t make you lazy – it makes you smart and more productive!