Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is very important for people in all job positions – but especially for those working remotely. As a remote employee, it can be easy to fall into working late, since you are already in the comfort of your own home and have access to your work 24/7. Recent studies have shown that 70% of employees are working remotely at least once a week. Those 70% of people are slightly more prone to experiencing longer hours and eventually burnout. Burnout includes feelings of energy depletion on the job, increased mental distance from your job, or reduced professional efficacy, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In fact, last year, the WHO recognized burnout as an official illness. So how can we avoid this burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Prioritize Your Time

Without a supervisor to keep accountability while working from home, it’s almost too easy to say “I’ll get to this later” and add something to your list of things you’ll get done when you get the chance. Missing little details in projects, forgetting to communicate with everyone you need to as a remote worker, and leaving anything for the last minute can definitely cause a problem down the line.

To avoid this, and have everything under control, make sure you have a task list that you can prioritize. If you have small tasks, that can take 5 or 10 minutes, doing them right away will get rid of them and shorten your list – making it look less daunting. For bigger priority tasks, plan some time in advance and work on them consciously during a period of time you don’t have interruptions or distractions. You may have a to-do list with 50 tasks on it, and you should prioritize those tasks into four categories to stay organized and on track.

The four categories are:
Urgent & important
Important but not urgent
Urgent but not important
Neither urgent nor important.

Use PTO to Take Well-Deserved Time Off

Sometimes, truly unplugging and getting away from work means taking vacation time and shutting completely off for a while. Whether your vacation consists of a one-day staycation full of “me time,” or a two-week trip to Bali with your favorite people, it’s important to take time off to physically and mentally recharge.

According to the State of American Vacation 2018 study conducted by the U.S. Travel Association, 52% of employees reported having unused vacation days left over at the end of the year. Employees are often worried that taking time off will disrupt the workflow, and they will be met with a backlog of work when they return. This fear should not restrict you from taking a much-needed break. PTO and vacation days are meant to be taken… and you deserve them! You work hard for them!

The benefits of taking a day off far outweigh the downsides. Especially With proper planning, and communicating fully with your entire team before you leave, you can take time away without worrying about burdening your colleagues or contending with a huge workload when you return.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries for yourself to avoid burnout in a very important thing. When you leave your office space, avoid thinking about upcoming projects or answering company emails or calls to your cell phone. Having a separate computer or phone for work can also help with this, so you can shut them off when you clock out and not do work-related things until the next morning. If that isn’t possible, use separate browsers, emails or filters for your work and personal platforms.

It is also important to determine when you will work and when you will stop working, otherwise you might find yourself answering work-related emails late at night, during vacations or on weekends off. Set boundaries of what time period you will work. It’s totally normal and healthy to give yourself some wiggle room, or to work late every once in a while to get something important done, but remember that your mental health is on the line, and you are important!

Notifying team members and your manager about your boundaries can also be very helpful. This will help to ensure that they understand and respect your workplace limits and expectations.

Set a Daily Routine

Setting a daily routine goes slightly hand in hand with setting your boundaries. My setting a daily routine, you can feel more organized and avoid burnout. Implement time-management strategies, analyze your to-do list, and cut out tasks that have little to no value. Pay attention to when you are most productive at work and block that time off for your most important work-related activities. Avoid checking your emails and phone every few minutes, because those can be major time-wasting tasks that derail your attention and productivity. Structuring your day can increase productivity at work, which can result in more free time to relax outside of work.

Setting up your workday as if you were in the office can also help a lot. Start work at the same time you would if you were going in, take scheduled lunch breaks, and schedule meetings at normal times. This office schedule feel can help your productivity and keep you on track.

Have a Designated Work Area

Almost all remote workers (especially right now) use their home as their primary place of work. However, working at home also means they are subject to distractions like children, pets, and household chores. If an employee chooses to work from home, it’s important to set up a designated workspace so that you don’t bring work into spaces meant for relaxing, dining, family time, etc. This helps you to distinguish workspaces from living spaces. If you are working at your kitchen table while eating dinner, it can become easy to forget that you should be logged off. If you don’t have enough space for a separate designated area, simply try to clear off all work related items from the space you are using when you log off, so that you aren’t tempted.

With many employees now working from home, in the middle of the pandemic, while juggling a number of responsibilities, you could definitely be more prone to burnout. Prioritizing your time, setting boundaries, taking much needed time off, setting a daily routine, and having a designated work area can help with this, while keeping you mentally healthy and productive.