What is Digital Burnout?
Are you struggling to wake up in the morning or dreading checking your emails? You’re probably experiencing digital burnout. Lucky for you, you’re not alone in this. The struggle is real for remote and non-remote workers. The WHO defines digital burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress.
Towards the end of 2021, there was an increasing trend of employees reevaluating their career choices and leaving their current jobs. As many as 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in December 2021, and statistics show that about 67% of all workers believe that burnout has worsened during the pandemic.
While most medical experts acknowledge that digital burnout is not a medical condition, burnout manifests unaddressed stress. It can lead to reduced efficiency, missed deadlines, and irritability. As work-related stress seems to be an indispensable part of work, you’d probably feel that burnout is the cost we pay for the jobs we do. However, the truth is far from it.
With consistency, careful planning, and smart work, you can beat the burnout that comes with work.
Here are 5 simple ways to avoid digital burnout while working from home.
How To Avoid and Manage Digital Burnout as a Remote Employee
1. Remember to Unplug
There is only a thin line between work and leisure when it comes to working from home. In some cases, your living room is your home office during the day and your family area during the night. As interesting as it may seem, if you aren’t conscious enough to unplug after work hours, your living room will continue to be your home office even at night, thus blurring the lines.
By doing this, you’re not only stealing your family’s leisure time but also your own. The long hours of working on your computer can cause remote work fatigue. Technology has undoubtedly made our life easier, but it has also made it a struggle to detach.
Here are a few hacks to unplug from work:
- A. Turn off your devices:
Work is important, but it can also wait. Once your work hours are done, remember to unwind and relax. Turn off your devices and let your team members know that you’re catching up on some much-needed family time, time with friends, or even some alone time.
- B. Go outside – Do some gardening:
Voltaire, in his book Candide, said, “we must cultivate our garden.” While his statement has an obvious philosophical meaning, taking the literal meaning is equally cathartic. Gardening can relieve your work stress and put you at ease. When you’re gardening, you’re out in the open, breathing some fresh air.
- C. Go on a mini-vacation:
Use your weekends to go to a countryside destination. It doesn’t have to be an exotic country or a popular tourist spot. Just a few kilometers from your city can do the trick. The change of scenery and some fresh air will help you unwind.
2. Do Smart Work to Avoid Long Hours
While technology provides us with efficient ways to do our work, it can also prolong our work hours by keeping us hooked on distractive applications.
During the great depression, English economist John Maynard Keynes in his paper ‘economic possibilities for your grandchildren, ’ predicted that we’d have a 15-hour work week in the future. Today as the world is discussing a 4 day work week, his ideas seem closer to reality than ever. While you might believe that long hours mean more work, long hours also can mean more fatigue and low output.
Here’s how you can work smart.
- A. Deep Work
The high focus over short periods can yield great results compared to long hours of fatiguing work. During these hours, let your teammates know that you’re working, and make sure to tell them that you’ve turned off notifications for some time. If you’re in highly creative fields like writing, graphic designing, and editing, you’d benefit from high-focus periods.
- B. Use the Pomodoro technique
Work in focused 25-minute periods and take a 5-minute break. After every 4-5 pomodoros, reward yourself with a 30-45 minute break. If your work needs greater focus time, work in a 45-minute focus period.
- C. Don’t forget to meditate
Meditation has proven to be effective in reducing stress levels and reducing the tendency of burnout. It also helps improve your attention. Giving yourself 5-minute breaks between work hours for deep breathing exercises and meditation can significantly reduce your work hours and focus levels.
3. Health is Wealth
Like the adage “health is wealth,” your work is dependent on your health. An unhealthy body or mind can lead to lower productivity and low efficiency. To prevent falling sick, you can try out the following.
- A. Exercise regularly
Hit the gym and keep your body moving. It helps keep your body physically active and fit. If you’re not a gym person, yoga or Zumba can also be a good alternative. Regular exercise can help reduce anxiety, improve self-esteem, and have healthier blood pressure levels, blood sugar levels, and others. Today, online work gyms are helping remote workers increase productivity.
- B. Eat Right
Stress eating or not eating at all during work can have negative effects on your health. Make sure to eat the right kinds of food to remain in the best of your health. Do not forget to stay hydrated. Consume enough vitamins, minerals, and fibers to keep your mind active and avoid remote work fatigue.
4. Get Out of Your Home Office
Continuously working from home offices can make you feel fatigued. A change of work atmosphere can not only beat loneliness but also help avoid burnout while working at home. Try changing your work setup or heading to a public space like cozy coffee shops or coworking spaces. Even minor changes like adding a flower vase to your desk or changing the lighting can improve your work productivity.
- A. Go to a Co-working Space:
The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “Man by nature is a social animal.” Co-working spaces provide much-needed space for socialization. It can help improve productivity, increase your network, boost creativity, and enhance comfort.
- B. Make a public park your office:
Imagine sitting amidst nature to the sound of birds chirping and water flowing. Even the thought of it has a calming effect. Don’t hesitate to pack your laptop and WiFi dongle at a nearby park. The lush green surroundings can increase productivity and decrease burnout levels. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all situations- the park may not give you absolute quiet surroundings for a video call or a business meeting.
You can also try changing the layout of your home office, try moving your table and chair or even moving to a different location within your house.
5. Remain Consistent
In the book Beasts of Tarzan, Edgar Burroughs writes, “We are all creatures of habit.” We tend to do things easily when it comes naturally to us. With repetition and consistency, you develop a habit. If your work becomes a habit, it’ll be as easy as brushing your teeth or taking a bath. Here’s how you can build a habit.
- A. Find creative ways to adjust your sleep
One of the best things about remote work is that you also have time flexibility (at least in most cases). It can help you structure your work according to your sleep schedule. Start work in the afternoon if you’re a late-night person or early in the morning if you’re an early morning person. Remember that everyone has different sleep times/ chronotypes. If Jeff Bezos or Tim Cook wakes up at 4 am, it’s because their chronotype suits them.
- B. Make a time-table
When you have a timetable, you tend to be organized. An organized schedule helps reduce fatigue and improves efficiency. It makes you repetitive and helps you build the habit of working. However, remember to forgive yourself if you skip a few things on the timetable. Make room for leisure and holidays. It is just as important as your work.
💡Note: if you want more ideas on how to avoid burnout while working remotely, take a look at this video, where Luis goes in-depth on this topic.
Long hours of work can come at a cost to your efficiency. You’re not the best employee if you come to your virtual office every day, stay for long hours, but skip on deadlines. Make sure that the burnout of remote work doesn’t hit you. Remember that you’re human, and you have your limitations. Leisure and fun help you unwind from your busy work schedule and help you avoid burnout while working from home.
Montaigne once said, “My art and profession is to live.” You’re not your vocations or titles, you have an identity beyond the roles that you play at your office. So, it’s okay to unwind.