When quarantine first hit, there was a bit of excitement surrounding the idea of working from home for the foreseeable future. Cozy days without any social obligations on either end, no commute, sweatpants and pajamas all day ... despite the anxiety that came with the whole global pandemic thing — and trust us, we don't take that lightly — the working from home part didn't sound so unbearable.
Nearly seven (!) months in, many of us are getting a little burned out on spending all day every day at home, especially when it comes to the working part. From struggling to concentrate to feeling like it's only a matter of days before a you-sized hole is burned into your couch, the burnout is real.
If this sounds familiar, don't lose hope: You can do more about it than you probably think. Here's your action plan.
Set a timer
While it would be nice if we could sit and work for hours uninterrupted, most of our brains don't really work like that. We need breaks, especially when we're working from home ... and have been for months.
"One quick tip is to try setting a timer," says Talkspace therapist Jill Daino, LCSW-R. "Forcing yourself to sit down for an uninterrupted block of time can be really challenging, and using a timer to give yourself set breaks to stretch, go for a walk, text a friend, read something fun and then when the timer goes off you get back to work."
Break tasks into manageable chunks
One of the worst things about WFH burnout is how long it can take to finish certain tasks, especially the big one.
There's nothing worse than staring at a task on your to-do list and thinking about how much time and mental energy it's going to take. Unfortunately, those are the tasks that are pushed to the next day, and the day after that, and then suddenly it's next week and you still haven't done it. So, take a step back: Can you break down these tasks into actually doable chunks?
"Breaking your tasks down into manageable pieces can make it easier to stay focused," explains Daino. "Instead of looking at the whole project that has to be done, look at one step at a time."
Make small, inexpensive home upgrades
For many of us, this isn't exactly the time to spend a lot of money. But because a little redecorating can go a long way in terms of breathing new life into your workspace, it's worth it to do some (inexpensive) sprucing up.
"Being home for such an extended time has been challenging in so many ways and wanting our homes to feel new and fresh can be done in a few small ways given that redecorating can be costly," says Daino. "Small things like plants can freshen up a home but also bring nature indoors, a fresh coat of paint if that's within a budget, some small things to hang on the wall or rearranging what you already have can create an entirely new feel."
Move the furniture around
If your desk lives in your bedroom and has always lived there, let us challenge you: Is there space for it in the living room? "Similar to changing what is hanging on your walls, rearranging furniture can create a new feel within your home," Daino says.
And if you do choose to move your desk out of your bedroom, you may find you sleep better, too — moving your work out of your bedroom can only be a good thing, if you ask us.
Create something in your workspace that can help it feel new again.
Again, this doesn't have to mean a fancy redecorating job — it can be something small and new that you bring to your workspace that helps you feel excited. "
Especially with working from home, creating something you love in your workspace within your home can help it feel new again, whether that is a place for your pens or new gadget for your tech," Daino says.
Work from home burnout isn't fun for anyone, but trust us when we say that you could not be less alone in this experience right now. With a few small tweaks, you can beat it — and start enjoying working from home again. Last tip: Don't forget to put on real clothes once in a while.
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