We’re passionate about what we do here at Traction® Tools. We love our clients and partners, and we get seriously jazzed about new projects and growth opportunities. With that said, we’re also very aware of the rise in professional burnout, specifically in companies that aren’t usually remote. As a 100% remote team, we’re well-versed in what it takes to navigate the new modern work environment. Stick with us, and you’ll be identifying issues and hammering out solutions in no time!
Signs of professional burnout
Burnout isn’t always easy to identify; it’s similar to a lot of other issues, like stress, exhaustion, anxiety, etc. The difference is that burnout is always related to your job. The most common identifiers are:
- General, unexplained exhaustion
- Cynicism toward tasks and responsibilities
- Uncontrollable guilt for lack of efficiency or productivity
- Feeling like you’re no longer good at what you do
Yikes…talk about feelings we do not want to have at work! But here’s the good news: Burnout is preventable. If you start feeling professional burnout (or if you just want to stay ahead of it), we’ve compiled a list of ways to help ease those stressful feelings.
1. Create a dedicated workspace
This is especially important for those who needed to make an abrupt shift to working from home. Going from an office atmosphere to crouched over your kitchen table isn’t anyone’s idea of a great transition. Give yourself the space you need to get in the zone while you work. This can be anything from turning your storage room into a home office, to a corner of the living room that’s juuust big enough for a desk and chair. Having a dedicated space for work helps flip that mental “switch” that keeps you motivated and productive.
2. Set boundaries
Do you check your email from bed before falling asleep, and again when you wake up? Have you started eating lunch in front of your computer? These habits seem harmless, but if the lines between “working” and “not working” are fuzzy, it can create mental fatigue that leads to physical stress.
If your company has set hours, stick to those hours. If your work situation allows flex time, create your own “set hours,” and stick with those (this includes setting aside time for a lunch break!). The more structure you have throughout the day, the more mental energy you’ll save by not being on your toes all the time.
3. Schedule brain breaks
Did you know that working too much can actually lead to decreased productivity? Picture this: You’re halfway through your day, and you realize you’ve been staring at a blank spreadsheet that should have been filled out by now. This is your cue to take a brain break. Stepping away from the task at hand will give you space to clear your head while mitigating stress and distractions. Once you’re centered, you can get right back to coming up with brilliant and creative ideas like we know you do! How’s that for some much-needed inspo?
4. Stay active
You don’t need to be a health and wellness expert to make it through this one. We don’t expect you to go out and train for a marathon over lunch (unless you want to, of course), but if you sprinkle small physical activities into your day, the benefits will really add up!
Some ideas to keep your blood flowing:
- Take a walk around the block after finishing a big task
- Invest in a standing desk
- Walk to a local restaurant for lunch
- Desk yoga
- Set a step goal (that you could track in a personal scorecard in Traction Tools!)
5. Take time off
There’s a trap that remote workers often fall into: Working when they shouldn’t be. When you take a personal day, you’re not actually too far removed from your workspace. So what could possibly happen if you check emails real quick, or just finish that one project once and for all? Well…burnout could happen.
If you don’t separate yourself from your work on a regular basis, you will have a hard time recharging. This is extremely important for productivity, efficiency and creativity. Staying constantly connected isn’t doing you (or your company) any favors. If you have vacation days, take them, even if it’s just a half day. Your mind and energy levels will thank you for it.
6. Keep communication open
Humans are social creatures, and spending all day working alone can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. No matter how introverted a person may be, they still need to know other humans are out there! Make sure you give yourself the opportunity to socialize with your team, even if it’s just a scheduled check-in at the beginning of a meeting.
Some fun socializing opportunities are:
- Having virtual lunch together
- Dedicating a message string to fun/non-work topics
- Scheduling a happy hour or game night at the end of the work day
It’s normal to feel lonely when you don’t see people on a regular basis. When you take steps to care of yourself throughout the workday, the burnout you feel will slowly start to subside.