What to Do If You're Feeling Burned Out From Remote Work
It’s 2021 now, and while it’s awesome to have a symbolic fresh start after all the change that 2020 brought to our lives, many of us are still riding the remote work wave that rolled in due to COVID-19. At first, you might’ve been excited to have some time working from home. After a few months, however, maybe you’re starting to feel a little…well, burned out.
There are lots of reasons work-from-home burnout can happen, but this past year in particular probably had you feeling a little less like a remote-work boss and a little more like a hermit. So, what do you do to combat the work-from-home blues? I’ve got a few tips to help you navigate the situation and fight that dreaded remote work burnout.
Find Community Beyond Your Coworkers
Make time for people! Sure, you probably hop on your Zoom calls and chat for a couple of minutes before your weekly check-ins. You might have a brief coffee video date with your favorite coworker to break up the day too. Those things are great! However, just because you’ve been stuck at home more often and those are the easiest ways of human interaction doesn’t mean they’re enough to keep the burnout at bay.
When it comes to fighting remote work burnout, a big contributing factor is loneliness. Loneliness combined with staying at home for extended periods of time—especially when you’re focused on work a majority of the time—can all lend to burnout, which is why it’s so important to get creative to maintain a sense of community.
If you can’t go to your normal cafe for a coffee break, try scheduling a COVID-safe walk in the park with a friend or a coffee Zoom date with someone outside of your work circle. If you have a yard, balcony or outside space near your home, you can take your lunch outside for a brief lunch-break picnic for a change of scenery and a chance to reacquaint yourself with your neighborhood. Keep things fresh and keep finding ways to break up your day and challenge yourself to connect with others—safely, of course.
Make Sure You’re on Track for Your Version of Success
If you’re feeling really burnt out and you’ve been doing everything you can to stay connected with your community and to stay grounded with your life beyond work, maybe it’s not just working from home that has you down. It’s important to remember that you just may not be in the right job for you. Sometimes we work jobs because we need to (because bills, obviously) or because we feel obligated to during a particular time of our lives, but it’s not our dream job or our idea of success.
When it comes to burnout with your job, look at your growth trajectory—are you on a path that could lead to your idea of success in this job or a similar one? Will it get you where you want, or is this position just a pitstop? Take the time to determine what success looks like to you.
It may be that you need to talk to your team, manager or team lead and adjust a few things, but it could also be that you’re not in the right job for your career anymore—and that’s OK. If you’re working 60 hours a week remotely, stressed all the time and still burned out no matter what you try, then it’s time to find an exit strategy. Consider how much money you need for a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Take out the extra luxuries—house size, cars, purses, etc.—and instead look at how you want to spend your time to do what’s fulfilling to you.
Working 60-plus hours a week on something you love might be “worth it” for some people, but for others it’s a recipe for disappointment. Accept the season you’re in right now and make adjustments or a plan to get to somewhere more sustainable.
Hire Help If You Have the Opportunity
Working from home doesn’t mean you can also watch all the kids, be the entertainer, cook every meal and operate as a personal housekeeper, too. If you have the opportunity to outsource some of these daily to dos, do it. Hire out laundry, meals, cleaning, childcare—anything you can afford to bring in help for. Even if it’s small, this takes some of the extra responsibilities of being at home off of your plate so that you can focus on enjoying your time off work when you log off for the day.
If you aren’t able to hire help, take a look at all you’re doing and lower your standards during this season, and try to make a plan that’s more sustainable. For example, maybe you can consider hiring a housekeeper/babysitter after you get a raise, or perhaps you can get family to help with the kids and adjust your work schedule a little to accommodate when they can watch your children.
Maybe you can swap childcare duties with your partner or create a chore schedule that keeps everyone in the house contributing to the housework, so it’s not always on your plate. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And sometimes—just let the laundry pile sit there! No one said your house had to be pristine all the time anyway, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Give yourself a break whenever you can so that remote-work burnout won’t get the best of you.
Esther Inman is the CEO and founder of Virtual Assistant Internship and the host of Help Me Work Online, Esther. Over the years, Esther has helped thousands of women from all walks of life across the world work online as virtual assistants, creating virtual careers they love. If you’d like to see more tasks that a VA can complete for you, visit Esther’s website or connect with her on Instagram @esther_inman.