During the first few months of the COVID-19 outbreak, one of the biggest concerns of employers was the idea of shifting to mass remote work and whether they can trust their employees to stay productive even at home. However, it seems like the opposite is happening.
Since a lot of us feel that it’s necessary to be seen working productively while at home, this has led us to exert more effort and hours than normal to make sure that we appear to make practical use of our time. At the same time, with our workspace being just a little metres away from us at all times, the boundaries between our work and personal life seem to be fading.
This kind of setting is even more difficult for parents who are currently at home with their children, knowing that they are most likely working in the early morning and evening to catch up. Overworking not only has a negative impact on our mental health but it detrimentally affects all-around productivity.
In this article, we’re here to give you some tips on how you can prevent yourself from working long hours at home.
Maintain Social and Physical Boundaries
Wearing your work clothes, commuting from home to work are some of the social and physical indicators that something has changed. You can still try to maintain these boundaries when working from home. Basically, it’s going to be like a welcome change to not be able to catch the early train to work, or to spend your entire day in your pyjamas. These things are both boundary-crossing activities that are actually good for you, so avoid abandoning them completely.
Go ahead and put on your work clothes each morning, nevertheless, get yourself ready. If you commute every day to work, you may replace that with a short walk to a closeby park, or even just roam around your apartment, before sitting down to work. Come up with your own creative and simple ways to maintain your usual work routines.
Learn to Say NO
If it’s really necessary, learn to say no. Now that we are living in these changing times, your priorities and focus might change, almost every day. This is why it won’t hurt if you need to have the confidence and conviction to say no if some tasks would overwhelm you and it’s not even a priority right now.
However, if an additional task or two actually needs to be accomplished, be realistic and honest about what you can do within the time that you have throughout your main working day, probably providing a partial solution for the moment.
Inform the People You Live With How You Work
Do you live with people who have different work schedules from you? Do some of them need to leave the house to go to work? Or are they not working at all for the meantime? Make sure that you inform them if you want to avoid misunderstandings.
For instance, working from home doesn’t mean that it’s okay to do your housemate’s grocery shopping for them in the middle of the day, chat with them, take deliveries, or do other jobs. It’s crucial that you allow people you live with to know what you’re doing for work, and the timescales you need to finish them. This will help you to be accountable while allowing them to respect your time for work.
Creating Temporal Boundaries and Maintain Them As You Can
It’s important for your well-being and work productivity to maintain temporal boundaries. This is especially true when plenty of employees or their colleagues deal with the challenge of combining childcare or elder-care duties during daily work hours. It’s more difficult for employees without kids or other family responsibilities, thanks to the mobile devices that help us get updated with work at all times.
Having a 9 to 5 schedule and sticking to it is unrealistic, talk to the HR solutions in your company if they can help implement flexible working hours. As much as possible, you need to find the best work-time budgets that function best for you. And you must also be aware and respectful that others might work at different times than they do.
If you don’t have children, you can make intentional work-time budgets by including an “out of office” reply during particular hours of the day to focus on work. Also, a less extreme reply may let others know that you may be slower than usual in answering, reducing response expectations for others and yourself.
Focus More on the Most Important Task
According to Harvard Business Review, when employees work from home, they usually feel forced to project the appearance of productivity, however, this can actually result in them working on tasks that are more hurried instead of more important. Research claims that it’s counterproductive in the long run, even if it is advantageous for productivity in the short run.
Employees, especially those who are handling increased workloads as they juggle responsibilities in family and work tasks, must focus on prioritizing important work. It doesn’t matter if you’re working all the time, even on your most crucial tasks. The average knowledge worker is only productive on standard three hours every day, and these hours must be free of distractions or multitasking.
When you feel like you have to work all the time, you’re at a higher risk of burnout when working from home than if you were going to the office as usual. These are just some of our tips that can help you work from home productively and avoid burnout in the long run. You would need to experiment with how you can create circumstances that work for you.
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