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Unhustle for Work-Life Balance

Work From Home Burnout Is Rising – 3 Practices To Help You

Milena Regos

In a world obsessed with busyness and chasing success at all costs, we end up burnt out, stressed out, and lonely. At Unhustle, my vision is to shift this paradigm. It’s about finding the sweet spot between doing and real living, embracing a lifestyle that balances life enjoyment with purposeful achievement. This is the future I’m creating with Unhustle—a sustainable, prosperous future for ourselves, our families, communities, teams, companies, and the planet.

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Work From Home Burnout is Rising. Here are 3 practices to help prevent burnout.

work from home burnout

At the beginning of the pandemic, work from home was almost fun. You no longer had to deal with the commute, dress up each day, and put up with gossip at work. You simply want to do your job and call it a day, working from the couch in your Lululemon yoga pants.

When the pandemic hit, staying at home appeared desirable at first. You thought of all the projects you can do in your free time. You can work on that puzzle, clean the garage, paint the house, read more books, cook more, and exercise during the day.

Then reality set in. Days blurred into nights and into each other leading to work from home burnout. You no longer know what day it is if it’s not for your Zoom call with your team. Without a set time to start and end your day, you end up working extra 3 hours a  day.

The 9 to 5 has turned into the 9 to 9. Zoom fatigue set in and you no longer have the motivation or energy to finish your side projects. Instead of cooking dinner, now you continue to respond to emails. All of the sudden, you are starting to miss your downtime during the commute.

A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over 40% of adults are experiencing mental health challenges, including anxiety and depression. 75% of Americans are burnout according to Mental Health America, up from 45% in April.

The spike means work from home burnout is real and we need to do something about it.

It’s not about optimizing yourself either. We’ve done everything we can to get optimized. Bullet journals, bulletproof coffee, voice delivered groceries. You can’t possibly optimize one more thing. Feeling stressed out, anxious and burnout will not physically allow you to get focused, creative, and productive.

What’s the solution then? It’s time to slow down and reset. It’s about establishing clear priorities and learning to set better work life boundaries. It’s time to disconnect from technology and reconnect with yourself.

After 9+ years of working from home, I realized that work can easily take over your life without certain practices and rituals in place. It’s even harder now without being able to go outside and connect with your friends in real life. And with kids at home, there are real heroes out there making this whole work from home thing work or are we? I see a work from home burnout pandemic brewing.

Here are my top three suggestions for maintaining work-life boundaries, based on my own experience. I broke them down for the time of the day to keep things simple.

1. Set your priorities right in the morning

Every morning I run through a few morning rituals, I refer to them as the Unhustle Morning. Taking 10 – 30 min in the morning for my mind-body well-being has been a complete game-changer. I won’t start work until I feel fully awake and alive.

By now, I have realized that it’s not the amount of time I work that matters. It’s the type of focus, priorities, and outcome that make a difference. But you can’t be focused if you are burnout. I put body before business in the morning. Then every morning I set my intentions for the day.

What are the top three things you need to do today? By taking the time to strategize your work each day you’ll feel less overwhelmed.

New things always pop up and the to-do list is never-ending. Without priorities, you end up working all the time without feeling accomplished. So instead, I focus on the three major goals that will move me towards my vision. Then, I start working on the most difficult project first while I have the brainpower. I leave emails and other projects for later in the day.

This hack has helped me stay focused and clear. At the end of the day, I know have made progress. Because, that’s what, us humans want anyway – progress.

2. Do active recovery during the day

Do you check the fridge every half hour? Do the laundry while you are on the phone? Do the dishes while taking a break? These are all easy to fall into “breaks” when working from home. The fridge followed me around during the first two years of working from home. I gained five extra pounds in a year. I was always starving and grabbing snacks. If you have a designated space to work instead of the kitchen table it’s easier to say No to distractions and to snacks.

I find that working on a certain project or for a certain time and then taking an active recovery break is better than doing chores.

Instead of doing the dishes, do 25 squats and a few pushups, go outside without your phone, or even close your eyes and take a few deep breaths for a few minutes to help you get realigned.

You can even try the box breathing technique to get calm before you move on. It’s pretty simple: inhale to the count of 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4 and hold for 4. If you want to breathe with me on the shores of Lake Tahoe, here’s a short video.

Do it now before you finish reading this, you’ll feel calmer. If you keep busy during your break, you will have a hard time getting into deep work later. Distractions steal your attention and you end up working more.

3. Have a clear end to your workday in the evening

How you do this is up to you. You can decide on working on three main projects for the day and when they are complete, you call it a day. Or you have a cut-off time. But you need some type of clear end to your workday and so you can transition to living. Turning off notifications on my phone or putting my phone on an airplane mode has helped me switch off. Resisting the urge to check your phone after hours is key.

There will always be Slack, email, or message that needs your attention. If you turn off your notifications, you can help the urge of responding right away. Being comfortable that it can wait until tomorrow is hard to do.

Having a mindfulness practice can help you increase your awareness. If you are having a hard time disconnecting from Instagram and Linkedin, you can join my free 7 days social media detox challenge.

While there are many practices and tips for how to create more work-life boundaries, you have to find what works for you. Keep it simple.

Be open to experimenting. Stay curious. Track your energy, mood, and work achievements. At the end of the day, it’s about doing less so you can do more.

I talk more with Bryan Kramer about work-life boundaries and work from home burnout on the Unhustle podcast.

I’d love to hear your practices for working from home that help you keep your focus, stay calm, and have a better work-life balance and if you need help you can always get in touch with me.

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