A pandemic, an election year, hurricanes, wildfires, social unrest—what more can we pile on to our 2020 experience? Most of us find ourselves working from home full-time while juggling homeschooling, pets, extended family and more. These are challenging times, especially for working parents. If you don’t foster healthy habits, it will be challenging to support the people around you, whether it’s family, friends, employees, clients or co-workers. That’s why it’s more important than ever to employ strategies to combat work from home burnout. Recently I connected with Denise Broady, HR expert and COO at Workforce Software, who shared her top tips to remain productive while still maintaining work-life balance.
Create a routine
Even though you might not be going to a physical office space, it’s crucial to develop a routine. Ensure you’re getting dressed every day (at least change out of your pajamas) and set standard times for your office hours versus your private time to create structure. Also, make use of an effective work from home set up. Try to sit at a desk daily to mimic that in-office feel. Broady also offers this advice, “For working mothers like myself, my family and I eat dinner around the same time every evening, followed by a walk. Creating and sticking to a routine is key to avoiding burnout, staying mentally agile, and making ample time for your daily tasks.”
Boundaries are overwhelmingly essential to stay productive during this time. If you have family members or others living with you, make sure you’re setting healthy limits. One example Broady shared, “If I have phone calls and the door is closed, my husband and kids are aware that I can’t be disturbed.” Also, don’t eat lunch at your desk. Try to step away to clear your head and unplug. You’re ultimately your own best advocate, so make sure you’re setting reasonable boundaries to avoid pent up frustration or confrontation.
Overcommunicate with loved ones
These days, leaning on your support system is critical. Broady explains, “Once a week, my family and I meet to discuss what’s currently working and not working in our household when it comes to supporting each other. A fun idea we came up with was a chore chart for the kids, where points are given based upon the task they are completing to help around the house. At the end of the week, they tally up their points and receive money based upon how many points they get. It’s vital to keep things fun at home right now—especially for children confused about what’s currently going on and feeling anxious or upset about why they can’t see friends or go to school on a full-time basis.“ Also, consider creating a shared calendar to know when others are busy with work or personal time. In the long-run overcommunicating will help to avoid burnout, frustration and isolation.
One of the most important tips is to ensure you’re setting aside time to be good to yourself. Take one to two hours a day to read, work out, walk, run, or engage in your favorite hobby. Make sure you’re involved in activities unrelated to work, which could ultimately help you excel at your job. For instance, reading a book could spark an excellent work idea, or a workout could decrease stress while increasing productivity. Ultimately, focus on what you can control and the things that you are grateful for.
An interesting way to avoid work from home burnout includes networking. Try to spend at least one hour a week networking outside of your company to learn about your industry’s best practices. For example, Broady likes to attend a monthly CMO huddle via Zoom to exchange ideas and hone her skills. Learning from other people right now will benefit you and have a positive impact on your career. It’s also a fantastic way to share your ideas on topics that you’re excited about. Engaging in passion projects that might not relate directly to your job will create a sense of purpose. Aside from external networking, catch up with co-workers one on one via Zoom to talk about topics unrelated to work. This is a great opportunity to check in with people you might not normally engage with to see how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can help them with.
The COVID-19 pandemic may make you feel like your career has been put on hold. Perhaps you’re frustrated because there seems to be no end in sight. Don’t let work from home burnout get the best of you. Use these strategies to face your stressors head-on and reap the benefits of a new and improved outlook.
Forbes October 4, 2020 by Caroline Castrillon Contributor Careers