How To Avoid Work Burnout During a Pandemic

Shot of a stressed businesswoman with headache in the office.
VioletaStoimenova / Getty Images

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are working from home. While this might have seemed like a “perk” at first, it could actually be leading to burnout. You might be working longer hours because you’re no longer commuting, skipping out on using your allotted PTO because you can’t go on a vacation, or, with the lines blurred between work and home, find yourself checking your phone and email after work hours and on weekends. Plus, if you have kids at home, you might now be juggling your own work with assisting your children with homeschool if they are currently learning from home. All of these factors combine into the perfect storm that is sure to lead to burnout — if you haven’t reached that point already.

Related: The Best and Worst Things About Working From Home

Before you find yourself at a breaking point, incorporate these tips to ensure that you maintain a healthy work-life balance during these unique times.

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Create Boundaries

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“The key to avoiding work burnout during the pandemic is all about creating the similar boundaries that you had when working in an office,” said David Magnani, managing partner at M&A Executive Search. “The advantage of the traditional work setting is that we take physical actions that define a beginning and end to work: we wake up earlier, we dress in work clothes, we commute to a different place. All of these changes allow us to mentally and emotionally set a sharp boundary between home life and work life, enabling us to effectively focus on work when we are at work and personal things when we are at home. The key to working virtually and avoiding work burnout is to re-establish boundaries using similar mechanisms.”

Magnani recommends establishing a space in your home that is dedicated to work only, dressing up for the day as you would for your office and establishing strict work hours.

Read More: How To Upgrade Your At-Home Work Space for 2021

“Let most phone calls outside of those hours go to voicemail,” he said. “Only follow up on business calls during your business hours.”

Take Breaks Throughout the Day

“Our brains work best when we have periodic breaks,” said Dr. Lisa M. Webb, a licensed clinical psychologist and entrepreneur.

Make It a Goal: How To Achieve Better Work-Life Balance in 2021

Webb recommends working in 90-minute intervals with 10- to 15-minute breaks in between.

“Time between focused chunks of work is part of the recharge our brains need and is necessary to avoid burnout,” she said.

Schedule Downtime

In addition to taking breaks throughout the workday, you should also set time aside each day before or after work to just relax.

Find Out: When These Big Companies Are Planning To Return To the Office

“Schedule time to spend away from tech and your house,” said Swati Chalumuri, a personal finance blogger at HearMeFolks.com. “Refresh your mind by taking walks, going to the gym or doing any other activity that has nothing to do with work or family.”

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Get Enough Sleep

Without a daily commute keeping you on a strict schedule, you might find your sleep schedule has gotten out of whack. But staying up late and scrambling to sign on for work on time is a recipe for burnout.

Did You Know: Before It Became the Norm, Which States Had the Most Remote Workers?

“When your brain doesn’t have a chance to recover and repair itself, your performance declines,” said Taylor Morgan, a high-performance coach and founder of The Captain’s Lifestyle Program. “This leaves you feeling tired in the mornings and sluggish throughout your day. Brain fog kicks in and steals your productivity. You’re more irritable and easily stressed out. Because you’re physically and mentally drained, tasks take longer than they normally should and you have trouble focusing. This leads to you working longer and harder, which leaves you even more tired, stressed and frustrated — a  vicious cycle. So get more sleep.”

Stay Connected To Your Manager and Co-Workers

Working from home can be isolating, which can make it difficult to ask for help when you need it. Do your best to keep communication lines open and express yourself when you are struggling.

More to Consider: The Pros and Cons of Continuing To Work Remotely Post-Pandemic

“You should stay in regular contact with your manager and colleagues during the working week,” said Tony Giacobbe, HR and talent acquisition leader at Amica Senior Lifestyles. “Don’t be afraid of reaching out if you’re struggling with a particular project and/or feel that your mental health is in jeopardy. Your co-workers are likely to appreciate the contact and take measures to reduce the burden, hopefully before it becomes too large a problem.”

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Last updated: Feb. 19, 2021

About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

How To Avoid Work Burnout During a Pandemic
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