Feeling Blue at Home?

Signs that work-from-home burnout is real…

No traffic jams. Straight out of bed and right into work while still in your comfy pajamas. No bosses constantly checking in on your or annoying colleagues who won’t get the hint that you need to get work done, not chit chat.

There’s plenty to like about working from home, which is why many of us are always up for such work flexibility. What’s not to like right – do work at your own pace, in a comfy nook with your favourite drink in your favourite mug.

So when the pandemic called for #WFH for literally everyone, it seemed like our dream finally came true. Yippee!

It seemed like a great idea when it started but what was supposed to be temporary has now transformed into something with no end in sight. And for some people, it’s now that they realise #WFH isn’t that great after all.

Especially when working from home clashes with your everyday life. The thing with actually leaving the house for the office is that you can leave your personal stuff at home temporarily and come back to deal with it once the workday is over. Like if you have a whiny cat that constantly wants your attention. Imagine trying to get work done at home with the cat pawing at you when you’re on a conference call with your boss. Or if you have kids – who’s going to entertain them with schools closed but your deadline looming? Or if the TV is constantly blaring in the background, walking in and out of your room or where you’re trying to work – good luck trying to have a conducive meeting or even getting your day started!

Constantly working round the clock? That’s the problem with #WFH sometimes is you don’t know when to switch off unlike calling it a day when you leave the office. Some of us might even be worried that our jobs are on the line if we don’t work hard enough thanks to COVID. Add on the sense of helplessness and uncertainly on when the pandemic will actually be over and the very regular no-water blues, and what you have is a situation where you feel tired, hopeless, and emotionally exhausted.

No wonder there are so many reports stating that the number of employees experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home is steadily increasing… and you could actually be part of the statistics. Seems like working from home is no longer a perk for some but causing a huge amount of stress!

Are you suffering from #WFH burnout? Here’s how to tell.

#1 Procrastinating?
Inbox full? Don’t really feel like picking up that work call? Deadline approaching but all you want to do is everything else but work? Often when you feel burnout because of work, you try to avoid it simply because you no longer have the same energy and zest like when you first started working from home. Like a candle, you’ve literally burned yourself out.

#2 Your me-time and work-time blur together
There used to be a time pre-COVID days when you could sit on the couch after work and do nothing but surf Netflix trailers. Those days seem to be a thing of the past, especially now when the first thing you do in the morning is pop open your laptop to work and the last thing you do is reply that work email that just came in at 10pm (your colleague is also working round the clock at home!). It is reported that because of working remotely due to COVID, employees are working three more hours per day. Which is why it may seem that your days of watching Netflix is a thing of the past when all you’re doing is work, work, work from when you wake to when you sleep. No wonder you’re tired – literally!

#3 Feeling discouraged about work
Your work seems to be piling up (see #1 for the reason why) and you don’t know where to start so why bother. You are constantly late for your online meetings and when you’re actually on it, you don’t contribute much because quite frankly, you don’t really have anything you want to say. Unfortunately, when you experience burnout, you tend to switch off almost immediately.

#4 You’re making more mistakes, taking longer to accomplish tasks, producing lower quality work
Not because you’re not good at what you do. Quite the contrary actually; you were great at your work until you started non-stop at home, skipped breaks, had almost zero physical contact with your colleagues, and even dedicated weekends to working when you should be recharging. Quite simply put you’re tired and your brain isn’t functioning at full capacity anymore.

Here’s what you can do (some of them really easy!) to deal with it.

  • Set consistent work hours. You need to emulate life at the office where there is a certain hour you clock in and when you clock out. While it’s tempting to keep on checking emails or complete that task, give yourself a break – especially if you’ve been working round the clock. There’s still tomorrow!
  • Sleep, sleep, sleep. There’s nothing a good night’s sleep can’t cure – even #WFH burnout. Don’t sacrifice sleep for what you think is being productivity. Make sure you give your body and mind sufficient time to recover so you can cope with the stress of working from home.
  • Start your morning your way. You don’t have to immediately reply emails right after you wake up. Give yourself a good slow but steady start in the morning to get your mind in the right frame. Have a morning routine of breakfast, reading a chapter or two from your book, exercising, listening to a podcast before you bombard your day with work stuff.
  • Go outside! You go out for lunch at work so why not do it when you’re working from home. OK so you think twice about eating out thanks to the pandemic but you can still get up from your chair, stretch, and give yourself a good 10 minutes to enjoy a cuppa while sitting outside in your porch.
  • Change of scenario. If things are hectic at home to actually work, you can consider working at a different environment. Like at the nearest hotel, where you can now book a Work From Home package from as low as RM19. That’s pretty cheap for peace and quiet, and even free flow of coffee!
  • Go on a “holiday”. You can’t literally book yourself a holiday right now but you can take leave from work and call it a staycation – at home! Do everything but work during your leave. Completely unplug, turn off notifications – after a few days, you’ll feel recharged and ready to work from home again.

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Share this article: