Can you believe it’s been almost 3 years since we were all thrown into a work at home environment? And although we’ve had some time to figure out a new schedule and routine, it’s still evolving, as life is constantly in flow.
Although many companies are offering hybrid or work from home options, stress and burnout is still at its peak. Gallup research state that over 50% of people reported consistent feelings of stress at work.
50%? That’s far too high. And it requires attention….from companies, and from employees. We need to start evaluating our lives and our days.
I was there too. In 2008, my employer Warner Bros took a chance on me and approved my request to move to the east coast. And I’ve been working from home ever since. But it wasn’t an easy transition.
Initially, I struggled with balance and boundaries. I was trying to prove that I deserved the approval to work from home and ended up working 12 hour days to make sure I was “pulling my weight”.
12 hour work days was not why I moved. So I had to figure out how to create balance for myself (before I completely imploded) while also being available for my boss and team that were on the west coast and my clients that were on the east coast.
Here’s what I learned: to create BALANCE, you must first create BOUNDARIES.
I know you are a hard worker, you have a great work ethic, and you care about your output. But just because you receive a paycheck from your employer doesn’t mean you owe them your life. So it’s up to you…and only you…to set the boundaries needed to that you can have the necessary time to show up and thrive at work and also have a fun and rewarding personal life.
So how do you do this?
We’re all different people, so the solution will be different for each of you. That being said, here’s a good place to start to create balance and boundaries to overcome burnout and fatigue:
- Set a work start and end time and stick to it.
- Take breaks throughout the day — get outside for at least one of them. (We need fresh air and vitamin D!). 10-30 minutes each at least 2x a day.
- Go through a “shut down routine”. Create a routine that you do for the last 15 minutes of your day every day. Scan your to do list, prioritize the things you didn’t get to today for tomorrow or the rest of the week. Scan unread emails. If there is anything urgent, complete it and close up.
- If you don’t have a seperate room as your office, then put away your computer and work. You shouldn’t have a visual of work during your downtime. Don’t worry, it will be there tomorrow.
- Take a walk, stretch, or exercise to signal that the work day is finished and personal time is beginning. We need time to decompress and if you’re working from home, you no longer have a drive time home to do it. Physical movement is the most impactful way to decompress and reenergize yourself for your personal time. It helps improve your mood overall and you’ll physically feel better as well.
- Change devices once you are finished with work. Don’t use the same laptop to go on social media. Switch to your phone or ipad instead.
And if you’re worried about not being able to stick to a consistent end time, then I encourage you to review how you are spending your time during work hours. Are you fielding emails all day and then getting to your “work” in the late afternoon/evening? If so, you need to flip that. The work needs to come first, and then email correspondence. Also, don’t let unproductive meetings fill up all of your time. I realize this can be a bit tricky depending on your job, your boss and the work culture, but when there is a will, there is a way.
Try implementing “time blocking” on your calendar. Dedicate the first hour of your day to the most pressing/important task of your day. Don’t take phone calls or emails. Just give your focused attention for 1 hour. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish with non-interruped focused time. This one thing is a life changer. Then when the hour is up (set an alarm if it is helpful), move on to something else. I think having a ‘power hour’ in the morning and early afternoon is extrememly effective. Give it a try and see what you can accomplish with 2 focused un-interrupted hours a day.
Also important to note is we are not going for perfection here, just focus on progress. Try to be a bit better each day of setting your boundaries and sticking to them. No one can do it for you. This is 100% you. And the person who benefits most from this, is you. So please give it a try. You won’t regret it. In fact, I’ll bet you that you will find yourself being more alert, focused, productive, energetic, and happy.
As humans, we need rest and play. It is essential to our overall well being. And for those of you who struggle with feeling selfish about setting boundaries, don’t be. Setting boundaries isn’t selfish. It’s powerful. It’s knowing your value and standing up for it.
So tomorrow, try out your new routine. Because you can Emerge Positive.