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How to Avoid Job Burnout When You Work from Home

It's important to keep your work life from spilling into your home life to avoid burnout. Follow these steps to keep these two aspects of your life separated, even if they share the same location.
A woman looking depressed and tired while her daughter plays in the background.

You took a work from home job so that you could finally have complete control over your schedule. But with work demands, you find that you’re putting in more hours than ever before. In order to feel like you’re not working 24/7—and avoid job burnout—follow these tips.

Prioritize your workload. The to-do list for your job is pages and pages long, with everything marked “Urgent.” But taking on too much is a recipe for stress—and becoming so overwhelmed that you actually get very little done. So go through your list and see what truly needs to be done that day and by what time. Non-urgent items can get pushed back to the next day, if need be.

Clear the clutter. No matter how much work you get done during the day, you’re never going to feel like you accomplished anything if your desk looks like it’s drowning in paper. So take the last 30 minutes before the end of your workday to organize your home office. Toss unnecessary papers and file only the most important documents. And the same goes for your computer’s desktop, too. Send finished items to the recycle bin, and neatly organize extra the rest so you can actually see the photo of your cute kids on your desktop’s background.

Take breaks. When you worked in a regular office, you were up and out of your seat all the time, checking in with your boss or heading to the mailroom to mail out important packages. Now that you’re working from home, you barely get up anymore. That’s why it’s imperative to take regularly scheduled breaks—about every half hour or so—to stretch your legs and move around. And don’t forget to take your lunch hour too. But if you’re so engrossed in your work that you forget to check the clock, set up reminders to pop up on your screen.

Don’t try to do it all. Sure, working from home means that you could, in theory, toss a load of laundry into the washing machine while you finish up those reports for your boss. But just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. Treat your remote job as if you were working in a real office—after all, you wouldn’t be able to wash your dishes during a regular meeting, would you? If you want to maximize your efficiency, cut down on distractions, such as house cleaning, until your break, or better, at the end of your workday.

Speak with your boss. If you’re practicing good time management skills but still are being swallowed up by work, it might be time to talk to your boss. Let her know that you love your job but that your workload is getting to be more than you can handle. Make a list of all of your responsibilities so that she can clearly see what you do in black and white. It’s better to ask for help before a problem hits crisis mode, such as you missing deadlines or turning in poorly executed work. She’ll appreciate your honesty and hopefully help you come up with a solution, such as removing some items from your overflowing plate.

It’s important to recognize when you’re starting to feel the signs of burn out, such as stress, anxiety, exhaustion or even depression. By taking control over your work life, you’ll soon start enjoying your job a lot more again.

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