Almost overnight, working from home has become the new normal. According to a report issued by the Brookings Institute, up to half of American workers are currently working from home, more than double the fraction who worked from home in 2017-18.

Before the coronavirus pandemic turned everything upside down, working from home was often cited as an antidote to workplace burnout. In truth, that sentiment was never entirely accurate.  Anyone who has traveled extensively for business, or worked remotely for extended periods, already knows the reality.  You can still suffer from burnout, even if you’re not tethered to an office.

Now, almost everything about how we work has altered. If you are reading this and working from home right now, you too are already in the thick of it. As government officials determine how and when everything reopens, the boundaries are blurry.  Remote working, coupled with rapidly evolving public health directives, has left millions of workers to figure out issues and challenges in real-time.  Over 80% of respondents to a Thrive Global survey wished their employers were doing more to help manage stress and anxiety due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The ramifications of the pandemic are immense. You can’t glance at your phone, open a website, or scroll through your feed without being confronted by scary and surreal news. We are dealing with fear and uncertainty about our health, our work, and the well-being of people we care about. Stressed is an understatement.

As a career coach, I help people do their best work.  Sometimes, especially in occasions such as these, that means not doing anything at all. 

Being hyper-focused on productivity, no matter what, isn’t always viable. Bursts are great.  But so are pauses. Pauses are important. If you cannot seem to find the time to take a break, put it on your calendar and don’t blow it off.

If you have a video meeting or conference call, take a short break before you dive into the next thing.

If working from home has you feeling overwhelmed, don’t dismiss or ignore how you are feeling. Getting work done the way you used to might seem impossible because things really are different.  We are not robots. It takes time to figure things out and to adapt.

If your responsibilities feel insurmountable it’s incredibly tough to know where to start, or what to do. Recognizing that it’s time to make a shift is a crucial first step. The bottom line is this – if you don’t take steps to take care of your health and well-being, your ability to deliver great work will fly out of the window.

Here are ten things you can try if you fear you are starting to burnout.

  1. Take a break.
  2. Talk to someone you trust.
  3. Get clear on your priorities.
  4. Do the most important stuff first.
  5. Set some boundaries.
  6. Focus on what you can control.
  7. If you can, get some help. If no one can help, cut stuff out (refer back to tip #3).
  8. Get more sleep.
  9. Get even more sleep.
  10. Keep track of your accomplishments, large and small.

Don’t be afraid to try, even if you are skeptical.  Adjust something, try it out for a little while and see how it feels. Sometimes it takes a couple of days, or longer, to get perspective.  If it doesn’t work, that’s okay, you can try something else and eventually, you will start to feel the difference.

Originally published on Twenty Ten Talent

Photography by Slava Keyzman