It’s March again, which means it’s officially been one year since COVID arose and changed life as we knew it. That’s right, it’s been twelve whole months of social distancing and staying home — twelve months! We’ll be the first to say this past year has felt like a blur. Living in a constant state of uncertainty is tiring, and it’s more than ok to admit that it was (and still is) a lot to handle at times!
For many people, one of the biggest challenges has been figuring out how to make the shift from going to the office everyday to working from home (WFH). While WFH does have its perks (no commute, time back in your day, flexible schedule), it’s mentally and emotionally draining to not leave your house and be seated in front of a computer for 8 hours. And for those who live alone, the lack of human interaction that comes with going into the office is just an added element to an already difficult situation.
With the impressive progress of vaccines, there’s hope for a return to normalcy at some point this year, and potentially going back into the office. However, there’s still no certain timeline, and many organizations are unsure of what they’re return to the office plans will look like. Whether you need a final push to get through these next few months of working from home, or think that WFH may be your indefinite plan, here are some tips to “beat the burnout” of working remotely:
1. Get Outside: The good news about it being March again is that it’s March again — springtime! The first day of spring is officially March 20, and daylight savings starts on March 14, so when you put the two together you get…more sunshine, more daylight, and warmer weather. There are plenty of ways to incorporate getting outside when working from home (more than if you were going into the office: a secret bonus). Here are some ways to make it happen.
- Take a call on a walk: If you’re in back-to-back Zoom meetings all day (exhausting, we know), see if there’s one in there that you can take camera-off and head out for a quick walk while you listen in on the latest call that could’ve been an email.
- Schedule 15 minutes a day to go for a walk: Put it on your calendar, so no meetings can be scheduled during that time. If you can, leave your phone at home to feel like you’re truly “unplugging.” You’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your next to-do!
- Got a dog? Take 10 minutes in your lunch break to throw them the ball! Being around your pet is an instant mood booster, plus they will love you more than they already do (if that’s possible).
Pro tip: natural light is a mood-booster. See if you can find a spot in your house by a window to set up your workspace. Seeing the sun will not only make you happier, but will also increase your motivation to get outside at some point in the day.
2. Stick to a Schedule: This one can be tough, but is so crucial to staying in a healthy mindset and attempting to keep a work-life balance. When you live at the same place you work, and in some situations, sleep next to where you work (hello, small apartments), it can be very difficult to navigate when you’re on and off-line. When we were in the office and 5 o’clock rolled, you knew you were done for the day, but it can feel weird to shut your computer off at 5 and move 10 feet to the couch. Here are some tips to create and keep a schedule:
- Have a morning and end-of-day routine: Creating a morning ritual that doesn’t involve technology is a fantastic way to start the day. Ideas for this could include making your bed, journaling, enjoying breakfast and coffee (sans phone), or even taking 15 minutes to plan out your day. I thoroughly believe that a good morning makes for a good day, so prioritize doing things that make you feel happy and excited to get out of bed! For end-of-day, this could look like closing out your computer tabs (so satisfying), shutting down the laptop (don’t put it in sleep mode, turn it off!), cleaning up your work space and walking away from the area. Pro tip: get outside right after you finish work to clear your head!
- Plan a workout class right before or after work: If you do it in the morning, then you know as soon as you’re done and shower, it’s time to start working. This will help you get a good, early start on the day and will give you more energy than rolling straight from bed to the desk. Conversely, if you set a class right at 5pm, you’ll have motivation to work hard throughout the day to log-off in time, and it will help you clear your mind from work-mode to enjoy the rest of your evening.
3. Try the Pomodoro Technique: The Pomo-who? Chances are you’ve heard this technique without knowing the name of it. It’s a time-management method for staying on task and mentally fresh (two very difficult tasks in this virtual era). It works like this: pick a task and set a 25-minute timer to get it done, called a “pomodoro.” Work until the time is up (no distractions!) and then take a 5-minute break. Every 4 “pomodoros,” give yourself a longer 15-30 minute break. There are a few keys to experiencing success with this method:
- Eliminate distractions while your timer is going: The chunks of time are small enough that you should be able to focus the whole 25 minutes, knowing you can do whatever you want with the 5-minute break.
- Make sure your tasks are manageable and doable in the time given. If you’re staring at a huge project ahead of you, break it down into smaller tasks to complete each pomodoro. This will make it look less daunting and be easier to get started!
- Build-in some overflow pomodoros. Though an 8 hour workday would work out to accomplish 16 pomodoros, save 2-3 of them un-tasked for anything extra that may arise in the workday, or that may take longer than 1 pomodoro.
The most important thing to remember when on the verge of WFH burnout? You’re not alone! Things are still not normal and it’s OK to feel that way. Hopefully these tips can help you feel more grounded while continuing to navigate this new way of working.
Let us take one thing off your plate in these crazy times. Planning an event for your organization? We’ve created the ultimate 9 Steps to Event Planning Success guide to help walk you through everything you need to know and do!