With most of us working from home at the moment, the boundaries between work and home life have become blurred, and this has undoubtedly impacted our wellbeing.
If you’re feeling under pressure at work, struggling to juggle your day job with home-schooling, or stressed out in your job search, you might be experiencing burnout.
In comparison to stress which normally happens in short bursts, burnout is a chronic and longer lasting response to stressful situations. Burnout can cause sufferers to feel tired, unenthused and short-tempered; they might also find it difficult to complete tasks they would usually find easy.
Even if you’re not struggling at the moment, there are a number of things you can do to proactively reduce the risk of burnout.
Turn off your notifications
Responding to constant emails, messages and updates on Microsoft Teams, Slack or Google Chat can be overwhelming and is likely to distract you.
Most of the time, messages or emails don’t require an instant response; if something is urgent, you’ll likely get a phone call. Mute or “snooze” your alerts and only check messages and emails at certain times of the day.
Set boundaries between your work and home life by making sure your notifications are turned off outside office hours. This is especially important to do on your phone so you aren’t disturbed in the evening or overnight.
Try not to multi-task
When you’ve got a lot of work to do, it can be tempting to multi-task in an effort to get everything done sooner. However, while doing so can give make you feel like you’re being productive, multi-tasking can actually do more harm than good.
Multiple studies have shown that people who split their attention between tasks perform worse and are more likely to experience stress than those who concentrate on one thing.
To avoid getting overwhelmed, do your best to focus on one task at a time. It’s also a good idea of being realistic about your to-do list. Each day, try and identify what you’re not going to achieve so you can focus on the tasks you’re realistically going to be able to complete.
Create a “home office”
While not all of us are lucky enough to have a designated room in which to work during the day, having some kind of office space is important.
Even if it’s a corner of your bedroom or living room, setting up your computer there and only using that space for work, enables you to establish physical boundaries between your work and personal life.
Be stricter with your time
Tell people when you’ll be logging off for the day so they know when you’ll be available. Equally, it’s important to respect other people’s time boundaries; don’t email someone when you know they won’t be working. While they may not respond, it may still impact their evening.
Reduce the risk of Zoom fatigue
For many of us, working at home for the last 12 months has involved spending a lot of time on video calls whether than be with colleagues or clients (or even friends and family). It’s easier than ever to schedule a meeting and lots of us feel obligated to accept back-to-back calls.
However, “Zoom fatigue”, the feeling of mental exhaustion we might experience as a result of back-to-back video conferencing, has emerged as a growing issue.
Setting your status to “busy” or “do not disturb” or blocking out time in your calendar to focus on certain projects, gives you some breathing space and allows you some control over when and how often you have a meeting.
Give yourself some “you time”
Make sure you take some time out of your day to do the things that help you feel rested. Practising self-care is different for each of us: you might have a bath, go for walk or watch your favourite TV show, but do whatever you need to do to relax and recharge at the end of the working day.
Recognise your moments of success
Acknowledging your wins, however small, is really important. When you complete an important task or do something you’re proud of, tell a colleague or loved one or make a note that you can reflect on later.
Schedule time to catch up with your boss, friend or partner to talk about what you’ve achieved and celebrate those moments of success.
If you are finding things tough, it’s important to talk
If you find that you are suffering from burnout, reach out to someone you can trust.