2020 has been a year of many ups and downs. Especially if you've made the mistake of watching too much 24-hour news networks, but that's another discussion for another day. Many of us have found ourselves working from home because of various lockdowns. And most people didn't really know how to handle the situation at first and most probably still have some issues in adapting to the temporary situation.
The main issue you may encounter when working from home will almost all the time be that of trying to overcompensate. What I mean is that, due to the fact that you are no longer in an office, where your boss could see you working, you may have a tendency to start putting in more hours. Such a tendency is natural. You fear that your boss will think you're slacking and as such, you want to show him/her that you are not actually slacking and are putting in great work.
There is only one problem with this approach. And the problem with it is called burnout.
When you try around the 9-to-5 approach to life, with no breaks in between, you will inevitably tire yourself out in time. And that time is not that long. It may be a week, it may be a month, but there is only so much dopamine your body can handle without crashing the second you take a break.
And I get where this is coming from. Trust me, I've been in the same situation 2 and a half years ago when I first started working remotely. But in time, I came to understand that, even though I was at home, there was no need to destroy myself working too many hours. Because guess what, once you do that consistently, your managers will expect you to do it on a daily basis. And the road to getting out of that situation is paved with an inevitable job search.
So, how does one go about avoiding this type of burnout?
We'll go through some pointers and you'll see that basically everything boils down to having a schedule and sticking to it:
- always start work at the same interval you would if you were going to the office
- do not skip breakfast and lunch; respect your meals and meal breaks, otherwise, you'll be quite drained of your energy
- if you have been working for like 2 hours non-stop and find yourself constantly checking YouTube/Facebook/Reddit etc., then that's your brain telling you that you need a break; listen to those signals and don't feel guilty; ideally, the break should consist of you getting up from your chair and moving a bit through the house
- once your works hours are done, it's time to disconnect yourself from everything work-related; do not open your work e-mail or your work laptop; don't even think about going on your company's communication channels either
- adding to the point above, make sure that your work hours end at the same time they would when you were in the office; if you feel inspired to finish something late one day it's fine, but don't make that the rule
- managers: do not schedule any more meetings than necessary;
Having the urge to prove yourself is natural. Just make sure not to destroy yourself in the process.