Are you trying to avoid burnout? There are many reasons that you might feel burnout. The“always-on culture” is toxic and not sustainable.
Working from home isn't for everyone, and it can be challenging. I'm in my eleventh year of working from home, and I need to be aware of it all the time. When you work at home, it is much harder to get off the clock, especially with smartphones following you around all the time. Writing for Harvard Business Review, John Hackston explains, “Technology can empower people, but it can also make them feel enslaved. You can find your sweet spot by thinking carefully about how and when to use it. Amid the current crisis, that’s more important than ever.”
I had initially thought to write this for social media managers and bloggers, but it can apply to many situations. So whatever you do, I hope this is helpful.
“Three symptoms characterize burnout: exhaustion; cynicism, or distancing oneself from work; and inefficacy, or feelings of incompetence and lack of achievement.” from Harvard Business Review
Here are some signs that you might be heading toward burnout:
- work frustration or excess stress
- headaches or stomach aches
- emotional exhaustion
- can't focus on work
These are some ways to avoid burnout:
Create a beautiful workspace.
I like to have a candle burning and a soft playlist that helps me transition to work time. I have some peppermint hand lotion and pens that I love, little details. These little details create a calming, supportive environment for me. Take a little time each week to clean up your desk and work area to prepare for the upcoming week. Losing the clutter and coming to a reset space is practicing self-care.
Get a good night's sleep.
If you haven't already read it, I highly recommend Arianna Huffington's The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time. She shares how her burnout crisis occurred and what came afterward. In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna explores all the latest science on what is happening while we sleep and dream. She examines all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on getting better and more restorative sleep and harnessing its incredible power. Arianna says, “sleep your way to the top,” starting with your bedtime routine.
I love using an eye mask to block light and my Bose Sleep Buds.
Reading before bed is the best! This is what I read in 2020.
Technology can empower us, but it can also make us feel enslaved.
Eat healthy foods.
It's so hard when you work at home not to raid the fridge or cupboards when you have that afternoon slump; you are stressed or bored. You can dive into a healthier food plan in many different ways. I like to take a page from Weight Watchers and keep track of my food, so I know what I've eaten and create a plan for the day and week.
I have a great Pinterest board that you can follow called Healthy Choices, with lots of great things to try.
Move your body.
Why is this such a challenge? Maybe it isn't for everyone, but when you work at home, and gyms are closed, it is a challenge. I've been doing yoga classes on YouTube. And they're free!
Walking is another way I love to move my body and get fresh air. Weather permitting, I walk daily. It's a bit of a challenge in New England in the winter, but snowy walks are pretty.
Recharge your battery.
Chat with friends, and plan FaceTime or Zoom calls with family. Being cooped up in the house with the same people can be stressful. Take some of the pressure off and text and talk to others.
Make a list of things that make you smile.
Being grateful is essential for our well-being. “Living your life with gratitude helps you notice the little wins—like the bus showing up right on time, a stranger holding the door for you, or the sun shining through your window when you wake up. Each of these small moments strings together to create a web of well-being that, over time, strengthens your ability to notice the good.”
Ideas for Practicing Mindful Gratitude
Plan times to fully unplug.
Yes, you heard me. Stop staring at devices all the time. It's damaging, and we know it, but keep doing it anyway.
I have notifications off on my phone all the time because FOMO keeps you picking up your phone over and over enough without having a ding to remind you.
Limit yourself to one screen at a time. Make a habit of only looking at one screen at a time to improve concentration—and, in some cases, enjoyment.
Block out free time on your calendar.
Use your calendar for good – schedule time for breaks and eat lunch away from your computer. Taking a half-hour break and going to the kitchen will let your brain relax; eating at your desk is a bad habit.
Schedule days off, at-home yoga classes, time to bake and relax. You get the idea.
Write a snappy OOO message [and use it].
Do you have a hard time not checking email? I truly miss the days when you could leave work at the office and not have calls and emails at home on your phone and laptop.
When you're off the clock, put up an out-of-office message to help the anxiety from missing an email, and it helps set boundaries for your worktime.
Learn something new.
I've been taking different types of classes, such as PhotoShop, and I'm looking at some Procreate classes. I loved this class too. Skillshare is a great place to pay one fee and watch unlimited classes. You can get two free weeks here.
Learning knitting or something else you've always wanted to do doesn't have to be a work-related skill.
Take a nap.
Your mom was on to something. Shoot for fifteen to twenty minutes for a great power nap.
Lots of details on Sleep.org
Avoid the 24/7 news cycle.
It's so stressful. Ensure you don't overload your brain with too many messages and information.
Here are some apps that I love:
The Moment app [by Tim Kendall, former President of Pinterest] can track how often you use your iPhone and iPad each day and lets you set daily limits.
Think Up is a great app for positive vibes and motivation. You record affirmations like “I am relaxed and calm.” into the app and add relaxing music. It's fantastic.
While you won't be able to do all of these all the time, being aware of steps you can take to get yourself back on track can be helpful. Let this be the year that you prioritize your health and work-life harmony. Maybe we won't achieve balance but harmony to live a successful and productive life. What more could we ask for?
I hope these ideas to avoid burnout will help you and bring you a more peaceful state of mind. I would love to know what steps you take to create work-life harmony – share with me in the comments.