Working from home non-stop, as many people have been doing for the past few months, has a multitude of benefits. Time saved on the commute. No tempting Starbucks on the way to the office, which your wallet appreciates. A quick washing load at lunchtime. Or your favourite radio station on in the background, with no one to challenge it!
However, a constant merging of work and home, limited access to face-to-face conversation with colleagues and a juggling of working, parenting and home-schooling can become trying to even the most attuned home-workers among us.
There are some telling aspects that may suggest you’re experiencing a bit of working from home fatigue. We’ve listed a few below, and given you some implementable ways to combat them and keep your work/life balance in tip top shape.
You are spending more time procrastinating
Many of us have worked so hard to prove that we’re working hard, or revelled in the lack of distractions, that we haven’t allowed ourselves to find a steady, sustainable pace of working.
However, continuing to work at the same rapid pace for a long period of time simply cannot be sustained and can lead to serious burn out.
This can cause a muddled mind, which makes it a struggle to focus and make decisions. This takes a toll on your confidence and mental health, as well as your ability to consistently produce high-quality work.
After taking some much-needed time to relax and recalibrate, prepare a small, key list of priority tasks to complete each day. This is the perfect way to continue working at a productive and manageable pace. This will mean that you maintain the headspace to work in an agile way, reacting and responding quickly when required.
The disconnection leaves you feeling like you are alone
When working in a busy office all day, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by having people around you, coming and going, all the time. However, it isn’t often that we find ourselves in the opposite situation, and this much alone time is probably unchartered territory for many of us.
As much as we appreciate technology, phone calls and videos chats don’t help us to build connections and rapport in the same way face-to-face time does. Zoom fatigue is a thing and could leave people feeling disconnected from peers, and even lonely.
That said, dealing with these feelings alone isn’t the answer. It might be time to reach out and speak out about your feelings with line managers or your HR contacts. Alternatively, arranging regular team get-togethers, or meeting up with colleagues whilst adhering to social distancing rules, can help fill that void and help you reset. Human beings naturally rely on others for support, and it’s healthy to seek this out when things don’t feel quite right.
Meetings are continuing past designated time
When working from home in the current climate, we aren’t required to limit our time so as to avoid rush hour, long commutes or dashing to make appointments or meetings. For this reason, it’s easy to fall into the habit of letting meetings run past their allotted times, and then having to extend your working day as a result of this.
It’s important that you treat video or conference call meetings in the same way you would an in-office meeting – sticking to agendas and predetermined time blocks. Not only does this mean that your workload and associated pressure doesn’t increase, but also out of respect for your free time (and avoiding burn out) and your colleague’s time.
This approach requires discipline and the confidence to remind others and keep them refocused, but once you have mastered this, you will thank yourself.
Your daily routine has fallen apart
Working in your PJs might work for a few days, but it soon becomes a fine line, and before you know it you aren’t moving from your bedroom… or your bed.
We all have the odd day where we roll from bed to desk, only stopping for a quick morning coffee, before eating lunch while working. But after time, this will infringe on your mental health and ability to perform your role to the best of your ability.
While you might want to relax your routine a little, you really will benefit from trying to structure your day in the same way you would working at the office. Getting up with enough time to enjoy breakfast, shower and get dressed, even carry out some chores before sitting down at your desk, catching up email and messages before creating the days task list. Even replace your commute with a 20 minute walk – the fresh air will set you up nicely for a morning at your laptop.
Step away from your desk to enjoy a lunchbreak, and even take a few minutes away every few hours to experience a change of scenery (and stay hydrated). These breaks will help you remain focussed and productive.
You check your email around the clock
Because the boundaries between work and life have been significantly relaxed, if not removed, it’s easy to form a habit that sees you checking email and other work communications throughout the day and night.
Being bombarded with work-related information can leave your overwhelmed and unable to switch off. This can eventually impact your sleep, your appetite and your health.
If you recognise this behaviour pattern beginning to form, it should be stopped immediately. It’s ok -in fact it is vital – that you switch off and recharge your batteries at night and over the weekend. This means you can approach your work with a clear mind and razor-sharp focus when you return.
We hope these pointers are useful when it comes to recognising behaviours and putting boundaries in place. We’re all navigating unprecedented times – looking after your own mental health and wellbeing to prevent burn out should be treated as a priority, and in turn it will help your colleagues, friends, and family, too. Treat yourself and your new-found environment in a professional manner and you will feel the far-reaching benefits.