The new reality we’re living made “work from home” a widely used expression lately, but also a new lifestyle for many of us. In addition to productivity, working from home, means you need to know when to stop.
The limit between work and personal life is very thin, while working from home. Knowing it, is essential to prevent the burnout effect. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion, caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant requirements and it gets you to lose interest and motivation, as the stress continues.
Many of us are working from home for the first time, we feel compelled to prove our productivity and loyalty towards the company, so we tend to work harder and overtime. And this is a clear path to burnout, which is caused by prolonged periods of stress and uncertainty.
Even if we cannot control what happens in the outside world, we can take control of our days and habits. A positive work-life balance (including the ability to disconnect at the end of the day) is one of the foundations of mental health.
Here are 6 tips for disconnecting from work when working from home:
- Create a dedicated workspace
A large number of people working remotely consider this advice to be the most important. Not only does such a space encourage productivity during working hours, but it separates professional materials from personal ones, allowing you to leave at the end of the day and disconnect just like when you left the office.
You can also redecorate your workspace so that it doesn’t look like the rest of the room. Visual cues encourage the mind to think in accordance to the environment. In order to be able to visually change the office, you can choose a certain theme or a certain color, you can to use plants, photos or you can organize it in order to boost your productivity. Avoid crowding the space by choosing only items that mean the most to you.
Adding a few favorite quotes – either on a tablet or as wallpaper on your desktop – can give you inspiration at noon, when the energy level drops.
- Create a dedicated space for work breaks
Just as it is important to have a dedicated workspace in the house, it is as important to have a designated area to take a break from work. Don’t forget lunch! Instead of eating in front of the computer, close the office door and eat a proper meal in the kitchen.
Take a break when you feel the need to rest your mind, but do it also on regular basis. For more energy, both daily and in the long run, you can do some exercise or stretching to combat the numbness due to sitting on a chair. In addition to the fact that you will feel better physically, exercise also helps your mental health, reducing the feeling of drowsiness that can occur during the day.
- Follow a routine to start and end the work schedule
A physical space dedicated to work is, of course, an important step in separating professional and personal life. However, it is even better to combine physical and mental boundaries. A routine can help us define these lines by combining our personal daily habits with work.
For the morning routine you can start with a shower, a coffee, planning the tasks for the day and, why not, with some exercises.
By creating a routine, at the end of the day, you send signals to the brain that it’s time to move from work to something else. Update your to-do list and prioritize the next day’s schedule. Close the office door and move on to the next part of the day. Also, after finishing work, turn off your computer and start another activity that you enjoy, such as cooking or reading a book. You can change your clothes the way you did when you got home from the office.
Avoid checking your emails in your free time!
- Eliminate distracting things and focus on what you have to do
Give yourself space, time and attention to do important work, so that you have energy for anything else later. When you have to do something that requires a lot of concentration, you have to close both the physical door, so that you are not distracted by family, pets, etc., and the “virtual” door (social networks, phone notifications, etc.).
- Track your progress
The clearly you can see the progress you make each day, the less likely is to work overtime and burnout. Researchers have found that the most important factor in feeling fulfilled and happy at the end of the day is seeing real progress in work.
That is why it is very important to set clear and real goals and monitor your activity on a daily basis. You can ask for constant feedback from your Team Leader in order to get an objective opinion on what you have to improve and what you have become better at during this period.
- Plan activities for the rest of the day and give yourself time for what you enjoy doing
Give yourself a reason to leave the office at a specific time. Ideally, after finishing the program, leave the house and take a walk to detach. Schedule an event you want to attend, a meeting or call someone you love. Also, in order to relax, you can exercise or do yoga, meditate or read your favorite book. Planning a fun social activity in the evening is a great way to relax and enjoy something you’ve been thinking about during the day.
Working from home can put a strain on each of us, thus productivity, happiness and health depends on our daily habits and our ability to manage the tasks that we are given. Disconnect from work by setting clear boundaries, stay physically active, invest your free time in a passion and be proactive for the best results, both professionally and personally.