Singapore – Those in a career that entails a desk job often imagine how amazing it would be to work from home (WFH) and skip the jampacked MRT ride during rush hour. Agreed, it may seem like a better option, but staying in one’s pyjamas all day has its pitfalls too, the biggest one being burnout.
As the world is pushed to adapt to teleworking in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is now a need to maintain one’s physical and mental wellbeing amid all the changes. When burnout occurs, everything is affected – from income and productivity to one’s mood and motivation levels.
Burnout, as defined by helpguide.org, is a “state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” As the months of working from home drag on, the risk of experiencing burnout increases. Therefore, here are a few simple yet effective ways to prevent such a thing from happening.
Set Work Hours
One loophole with working from home is the extended hours “available for work” when, in fact, the typical 8-hour workday should be followed. While it may seem that there are more hours available to consume, try not to extend a workday beyond healthy limits.
When work begins at 9 am, push to end all work-related matters by 6 pm. Stretching the schedule into the night is like taking work home, which is not good practice for maintaining a work-life balance.
Given the literal close proximity a WFH setup has with home matters, it will be challenging to stay distraction-free, whether it’s from the kids, spouse or relatives. A workaround would be to allot an hour or two to handle such matters and extend the work hours. This helps the mind get into a designated routine or schedule, which helps with productivity and focus.
Don’t Forget Days Off
Day off means day off, where the laptop and all work-related matters are off. One’s career is much like a relationship wherein the saying “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” also applies. By taking a short break from work, one could miss the deadlines and jump right back into them with a refreshed perspective.
This technique is especially helpful in avoiding work fatigue brought by continuous contact with work.
Prioritise the Work Space
Understandably, most HDB flats have limited space to turn a room into a home office. A workaround would be a designated desk used only for work. The mind needs to know that there is a separation or distinction between the bed or sofa which are used for rest and relaxation and the work area.
Furthermore, a larger monitor, HD webcam, Bluetooth earphones with noise-cancelling features, ergonomic chair, cushion, proper lighting, among other items, could greatly help in ensuring a comfortable workspace. By prioritising comfort and convenience, productivity is increased, and burnout is kept at bay.
Get Some Sun
Whether it’s a walk at the park or a jog around the block, getting some vitamin D has numerous benefits that help prevent burnout. These benefits include stress reduction, endorphin (the happy hormone) production, better sleep, immune system strengthening, and the needed recharge to start the day.
Getting one’s daily dose of sunshine is a very simple yet effective habit to develop. Besides, wouldn’t it be better to say “hi” to the sun first instead of reading that demanding work email?
Stay Motivated With Hobbies and Rewards
Lastly, we have the tried-and-tested way to avoid work fatigue: hobbies and rewards. Imagine taking those long hours used on public transportation and focusing them on hobbies. This is a perk of a WFH setup that is worth maximising.
In addition to hobbies, one could schedule a periodic shopping spree from Lazada or Shopee, a staycation at Marina Bay Sands or a pampering day at the spa as a reward for a job well done. These greatly help boost motivation and inspiration for work and eliminates fatigue before it even begins.
Burnout is much like a health condition where prevention is better than cure. With that said, those working from home can adopt certain habits to ensure that burnout doesn’t have the opportunity to settle.