Another day of work, and here are you reading this article about avoiding work from home fatigue. Why is this happening, and how can you avoid it? This piece will cover just that.
COVID-19 has caused fundamental shifts in the ways we work, by making us to start working from home due to mobility restrictions. And those changes are now affecting millions of people around the world. People are exhausted and fatigued after juggling work, home responsibilities, health, family, and significant changes in our world. It’s like everyone who is working from home has too much on their plates.
Admit it or not, at first, many of us were enjoying the ample benefits of working from home. But now those benefits are being canceled out by the fatigue that comes with them. A study by the United Nations revealed that 41% of remote workers report high-stress levels. This can only be exacerbated when working remotely while being stuck at home without the usual “mobility freedom” that otherwise remote workers would be able to enjoy to work from coffee shops, coworkings or while traveling,
Before we introduce you to ways on how you can avoid work from home fatigue, the “fatigue issue” must be elaborated on and explained. So let’s start with doing just that.
The Fatigue Issue – Why are Remote Workers Feeling Exhausted?
Here’s why remote workers are feeling work from home fatigue:
According to a report by Fast Company, remote workers are putting in, on average, an extra 3.13 hours per day. As a matter of fact, workers who are slightly more productive are logging an extra 4.64 hours each day.
Overworking might be great for a pay raise, and it’s easy to log on during breakfast or to work through lunch, but it can work against your health in the long run. Working overtime can drain your energy and make you feel exhausted. It can affect both your personal and work life.
Working overtime might earn you a pay raise. But it will surely kill your energy and drain you to the point of fatigue.
2. Poor Habits
People who are working from home can develop poor habits like staying up late, eating junk food, and more. These poor habits can contribute to feeling tired and unmotivated. For instance, if you stay up late watching a new documentary on Netflix, you won’t feel your best when you join the next morning’s meeting sharply at 9.
What will happen? Although you’ll be able to pull off this behavior for a short time, the thing that will be most affected would be your health. In conclusion, poor habits lead to bad health, and that leads to low energy and a depressed immune system.
Many remote workers don’t have access to the necessary workspace and equipment. And when these two things are lacking in a work from home environment, it can hurt the way you work.
For instance, if you have a small apartment that’s loaded with your family members, you won’t be able to concentrate on your work. And when you aren’t able to complete your work and meet deadlines, it will result in fatigue and a drop in performance.
Next, if you don’t have access to proper equipment like a comfortable chair and proper desk space, it will kill your productivity. And less productivity will lead to trouble with clients or employers.
4. A Juggling Act
Remote workers are not only working for their respective companies. But they are also handling other responsibilities. From caring for their children to doing dishes, remote workers have to juggle between multiple tasks.
Although the act of juggling looks superior to the people who are seeing it, it can significantly affect the lives of the person who’s doing it. With the act of juggling comes fatigue. As you have to cope with multiple roles at once (apart from video calling with your team), it can lead to feel depleted at the end of the day.
5. Lack of Socialization
Humans are social animals. And when working from home there’s a lack of socialization. When working from home you sit all day long in front of a computer without any live human interaction with your workmates. And that can lead to feelings of isolation.
According to Miro, “The lack of real human in-person connection can lead to symptoms of isolation including increased stress levels and bad decision making and a general unhappiness for employees.”
6. The COVID-19 Challenges
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people working from home are facing new challenges, even if they were used to work remotely in the past, the context is different now: there are mobility restrictions and you need to work from home only and along other family members also in the same situation, the stress across many industries going through difficult times, having to also take care of family members at home due to lockdown, etc.
All in all, remote workers are now facing new types of challenges due to COVID-19. And those challenges, along with other sets of responsibilities and work, are contributing more and more towards your fatigue. You may be unable to process the new tasks, the tension inside your head will rise, and you might feel stressed and overwhelmed.
How to minimize this fatigue?
Some Ways to Avoid Work from Home Fatigue and Relief Stress
1. Say No to Multitasking
When we’re working from home we can easily fall into the trap of multitasking: trying to work while doing chores or taking care of home related issues. Humans aren’t built for multitasking. People think that they are multitasking. But as a matter of fact, they are just switching back and forth between the tasks. And it can really hurt their mental health and fill them with fatigue and stress.
The constant shifting between tasks increases fatigue and demands more attention and concentration from your brain than required. So quit multitasking and just focus on one task at one moment. It will help your mind to relieve extra stress and save energy.
To avoid multitasking and help you focus:
- Invest in a Noise and Distraction Free, Comfortable Home Workspace: Where you can easily isolate when working from home.
- Establish clear “do not disturb” rules with family members
- Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones and listen to white noises or classical music
- Block “Focus Work” Time in Your Calendar and set a maximum Number of meetings per Day
- Follow a productivity method like the Pomodoro Technique, that you can use to balance your workday between “focus time” and well deserved and needed work breaks
2. Avoid Working Overtime
It’s too easy to fall into the trap of working overtime when doing it so from home and you’re alone or even with family: when you’re so stressed and feel you can’t disconnect from it.
Working overtime has proved to be one of the most common fatigue and stress boosters. Working overtime has more disadvantages than advantages, so it would be wise to ignore or turn down that extra work hour bonus offer.
This should be avoided by setting again clear boundaries in this case, not of “space” but of time, by establishing a balanced routine and work schedule with a specific start and finish time that you should always follow.
To avoid working overtime:
- Set a clear work schedule with an alarm notifying you when to start, to finish and to take breaks. Establishing a routine to leave enough time before and after work and also a balanced schedule through the day for “screen” breaks. It’s important that you also have available time to exercise, take power naps, connect with loved ones and friends, and have outside time to walk and/or refresh, as well as making sure that you sleep well.
- Invest in a specific workspace, ideally a dedicated room that will be easy to leave at the end of the day instead and disconnect from, avoiding to bring work with you after. This specific workspace should have the role of an office: you should work only if you’re there.
3. Craft a Routine or Plan Your Day
This has been mentioned before but just in case it wasn’t clear enough: Not having a routine means that you have no clue when you are done for the day. And that can lead to high-stress levels and feeling exhausted. The benefits of having a routine or planning your day are endless.
When you have a routine chart, you have an overview of your day. From breaks to work and relaxation hours, you have it all figured out. And when you have everything figured out, you have the ultimate control of your time. Everything is in place, and all you have to do is just follow it. Planning your day results in better health, sleep, and stress levels. A routine helps you to stay on top of every single task that’s going to require your efforts.
Itamar Blauer, SEO Consultant & Video Marketing specialist, says:
“Having a schedule. I feel like it can be very easy to lose track of how long we spend doing certain tasks (especially when WFH). That’s why it’s advisable to stick to a schedule to avoid burnout and/or spending too much time on the screens. Make sure to include exercise in there!”
To set a daily routine:
- Set a daily schedule by planning your tasks ahead every week and day
- Use tools to plan your schedule like Todoist or Things.
- Set alerts to remind you about important tasks or activities
- Block time in your schedule to relax, exercise and eat through the day
4. Building Good Habits
“First, forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.” -Octavia Butler.
Speaking about working overtime and routines, good habits like going to bed on time, setting regular work hours, eating healthy meals, exercising, or meditating will help you eliminate stress and get relief from work from home fatigue. It’s important to practice self-care through good habits.
As habits tend to change the whole course of your lives, picking the right ones can turn the results in your favor. As a remote worker, try to build good habits in every area of your life; the results will amaze you!
To help you build and follow good habits:
- Take care of your sleep, make sure to sleep 8 hours every night
- Keep yourself hydrated through the day drinking enough water
- Start meditating by using applications like Calm and Aura that will help you
- Leave your workspace/desk to eat every day and leave enough time to do it so
- Take breaks of work through the day by following a productivity method like the Pomodoro technique
- Go outside and walk every day
- Keep fit by exercising at home with easy to follow 7 minutes or romwod exercises
5. Setting Up Home Workspace and Investing in Equipment
In order to work with full productivity and zero stress, you must set an office-like environment in your home. And that will only be possible if you are willing to set up a separate workspace in your home and invest in some equipment. Often, employers may offer a stipend to help cover costs of home office equipment; you may also be able to write these costs off during tax season if you paid out of pocket.
Your home workspace must be away from all the distraction zones and ideally, with good lightning and air flow. Moreover, you must set some rules in your workspace that you and everyone around you must follow. A home workspace will not just set you apart from the distractions but help you to achieve a healthy work mindset.
John McGowan, Founder & Principal Consultant at Attribution Digital, says:
“Music that you don’t love and you don’t hate, just somewhere in the middle. Zero distracting lyrics (instrumental), and ideally adjusting the style of music to the type of work i.e. fast paced for urgent work, slower / atmospheric / downtempo for creative, considered, deep work…Understanding your distractions & removing them. Headphones for noisy environments, … enforcing strict Do Not Disturb times for housemates, family members, and nosey (friendly) pets.”
Your workspace must also feature the necessary equipment to keep you sane while working. As offices have special equipment to keep you productive and stress-free, you must invest in some right equipment for your home workspace as well:
6. Taking Breaks
It might be harder to take breaks when you’re working by yourself, but it’s important to do it so since it will be more difficult to concentrate for longer periods of time. It will help you to disconnect from “the screen”, re-energize yourself and break the stress that’s building up.
Andrea Baggio, SEO Lead at LastMinute says:
“I make sure to stand up often and just do a quick walk around the flat, make coffee breaks like I was in the office (not on the desk while typing) and avoid looking at smaller screens after work as much as possible to rest the eyes :)”
Small breaks are necessary for resetting the stress and fatigue that’s building inside your head. Moreover, these breaks are necessary for all the people who are suffering from work from home fatigue and stress. One golden rule is to take a break after every 45 to 50 minutes of work.
To make it easier for you to take breaks:
- Use the pomodoro technique, setting a reasonable time (a “pomodoro” of 25 minutes by default) to achieve a task, followed by a 5 minutes break, then taking longer breaks (of 15-20 minutes) after 4 “pomodoros”.
- Use tools to follow your “Pomodoro” schedule & breaks, such as the free Marinara Pomodoro Assistant for Chrome.
- If you feel that you need longer periods of times to better concentrate and get stuff done, you can easily personalize your timings, while making sure to leave the necessary breaks through the day.
Work from home surely has some serious benefits. But it’s now proving to be one of the most stressful work settings. Although some people are enjoying their new working lifestyle, others are facing stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Our piece described some reasons that are contributing to work from home fatigue and some ways on how you can tackle those problems. If you have got any other ways that have helped you to kill stress levels and boost your energy levels, feel free to share them with us!
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