Am I the only person who literally hates working from home?
Probably not. There is plenty of articles on the internet about the advantages of remote working but this time I will talk about its disadvantages. I know home working has its own benefits, of course but it isn’t for everyone. Let’s take me as an example – I am an extrovert who enjoys being around other people and for me, spending time at the office used to be a kind of therapy that was helping me keep my OCD under control.
I had the option to work from home even before the pandemic but I have never been a great fan of it. I would be a hypocrite if I told you that I never enjoyed building my career while sitting on my favorite couch but spending a whole week working from home used to be totally unthinkable for me.
But since the beginning of March, the world has changed. And the unthinkable has happened. I have been working from home for way more than a week – it’s actually been 6 months since my last day at the office and I must admit that remote working has taken a huge toll on my mental health.
Back in March, I thought it would be something temporary. I thought we would be back to the office by summer. But it’s already September and chances are very low for us to go back to normal anytime soon.
Now, please do not get me wrong – I am not here to complain. It’s been a difficult few months for all of us and I am pretty much satisfied with my life and grateful for the things that I have and for the fact that my loved ones are healthy. But I really think it’s time for me to talk about my struggles while working from home and sharing a few techniques that are helping me survive! I am sure I am not the only person who’s going through this and I hope that sharing my story will help some of you.
So first of all, let’s take a look at my struggles!
My Journey To Burnout
As I mentioned above, home working has taken a huge toll on my mental health. But what do I actually mean by that? Has it made my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) worse?
Well, not exactly. I mean OCD does make you more vulnerable to developing other mental health issues so I am sure I would be doing much better if I did not have OCD, however this time I am experiencing something completely different. Something that I do not know if I ever felt before.
It has taken some time for me to admit that I was completely burned out. And it’s taken even more time to figure out the reason why I ended up feeling this way.
One of my favorite blogs on WordPress is Kacha’s Food.for.Thoughts which is full of interesting articles about depression and burnout:
Avoiding work was the first sign that something was wrong. I have always been a workaholic and when I worked from the office, I would never ever avoid work or I would never say no to any incoming request. Well, unfortunately that is not the case anymore.
My favorite part of my job was spending time with people, organizing meetings, training courses and social events – and yes, I know you will say that I can do all of that on video calls but that is just not the same! And another reason why I simply adored my workplace was the fact that I did not use to be forced to sit in front of the computer for 8 hours a day.
Now, that the things that I loved the most have been kind of “taken away from me” – that sounds so dramatic, I know lol – the tasks that I once found enjoyable are no longer as exciting as they used to be.
And while I am still doing my job, I often feel that I would prefer avoiding doing anything at all!
Apathy & Exhaustion
During the first few weeks of home working, I could still see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, I realized after a few months that remote working was here to stay. And this realization made me feel completely apathetic, exhausted and hopeless
There was a time when I felt that I just did not want to get up in the morning. Why should I? To spend another day in isolation doing things that I am no more interested at and counting down the minutes to finish working?
Lately, I have been doing better. I have learnt to accept the situation and I am trying to get the most out of it. At the beginning, my plan was to survive this period but it’s no longer an option as nobody knows how long it would take so at the moment I am trying to do everything to make my workdays a little bit more enjoyable.
Well, after everything I said I think you won’t be surprise if I tell you that my performance at work has significantly declined. And I am sure you can imagine how that feels to a workaholic like I am.
To make things worse, this is where our friend, OCD comes into the picture and asks:
– You are not as hard working as you used to be. What if they fire you because of that?
And as ridiculous as it sounds, my OCD has recently decided to become my career coach who keeps telling me that I should put myself together unless I really want to get fired. And well, we all know OCD so it doesn’t only tell me that I could be fired over not working enough but also that if I get fired, I will never find another job and I will end up living in the street. How motivating, is it not?
Inability To Disconnect
Now, I surely know that I am not alone with this problem. Many of my friends have told me that they were struggling with the blurring boundaries between work and home life. Our employers do not ask us to work longer hours but for some reason we still end up checking our work mail long after our shift is over.
How To Keep Sane?
Oh my….it just felt so great to complain a little bit and to tell you about all the struggles I’ve been through recently. Talking about our problems helps a lot but it’s only a part of the solution and fortunately, there are a few things we can do to make home working a bit more enjoyable.
Get Up At Least An Hour Before You Start Working
One of the biggest mistakes I used to make was waking up literally 10 minutes before the first meeting of the day. And I am sure you can imagine how it made me feel – having no time for a coffee, for taking a shower or for brushing my teeth. Or for anything else that used to be a part of my daily routine.
So one thing that makes me feel a lot better is getting up at least an hour before I start working. I have always been a night owl so it’s quite unbelievable that I am the one who’s telling others to wake up earlier but if I have to choose between sleeping a little bit less or feeling completely miserable for the rest of the day – ’cause that’s how the “morning rush” will make me feel – I think I will go for sleeping less.
Dress For The Office Even Though You’re Working From Home
Lose the pajamas! Yes, I know they’re comfortable to wear but if you’re dressed for bed, your brain will think it’s bedtime. And in this case, pajama was just an example because as for my experience, it’s pretty much the same think with any other comfortable piece of home wear.
What to wear instead? Well, maybe it’s just me but dressing for the office actually helps me a lot. I have always loved beautiful clothes and taking my time to get ready for work/ social events. During the first few months of home working, I was wearing a T-shirt with boxers but some time ago I came to realize that I’d actually been missing my “old style”.
So nowadays, my morning routine includes doing my hair, my eyebrows and dressing up in full office wear despite working from home.
The first rule of working from home: never wear pyjamas
Separate Work Area From Personal Space
Is working from bed bad for you? Now some people may say it’s not but as for my experience it definitely is. And not just because it can lead to back problems but also because your bed is meant to be for sleeping.
Remote work can easily blur work-life balance but having a designated area can help you keep the two things separate. I know it can sometimes be difficult – especially if you live in a small city center flat like I do – but there are a couple of creative ways to do that.
Establishing Your Home Workspace
Create A Work Routine
Decide on what your working hours will be and stick to them! It’s also important to schedule regular breaks for yourself and try to spend your break time outside of your “designated work area”. I also try to start and finish working at the same time everyday.
How To Create A Routine When You Work From Home?
Stop Answering Work-Related Calls/Emails At The Day’s End
Talking about work routine – one thing that you definitely stop doing is answering work-related calls and emails at the day’s end!
For me, this has always been one of the hardest things to do because I have always been a great procrastinator – when there’s an email that I do not feel like answering early in the morning, I will just put it off and answer it sometime around midnight. And that’s obviously not the best thing to do when you’re trying to set boundaries between work and home life.
Take A Break And Go Outside
Scheduling analog breaks is another great way to keep yourself sane while working from home. And what could be more relaxing than going for a walk in a nearby park or enjoying the sunshine in your garden?
Unfortunately, I do not have a garden and there aren’t too many parks in my neighborhood but I enjoy going for long walks on the riverbank! 🙂
Go Out For Lunch With Your Friends
Well, this one obviously depends on the current pandemic situation in your region but if it’s safe to go out for lunch with your friends, why not do that?
I have a friend who lives very close to my place and we often meet up for lunch. And it’s just so refreshing after spending hours staring at my computer screen!
Call Your Colleagues
One of my main problems with working from has always been the feeling of being isolated. Fortunately, this is something that I could easily overcome by talking to my colleagues a little bit more often. You do not need to be at the office to spend some time with them!
Talk To Your Manager
Many of us may find it difficult to talk to our managers about the way we’re feeling. Especially when it comes to burnout – I mean, how could I possibly tell my boss that I feel completely unmotivated to do my job?
Well, that’s what I have done and let me tell you it wasn’t as hard as I expected. Managers are human beings just like anyone else and I am pretty sure that most of them are very understanding.
Take A Few Days Off
Well, finally if you feel that you just need to think things over and have some time for yourself, you can also consider taking a few days off!
Most of the people I know like working from home and I can understand why. I do agree that remote working has its own benefits and I am very glad that my workplace gives us the option to work from home as it helps us keep ourselves and our family members safe.
However, home working isn’t for everyone and while over the last few months, I have learnt how to manage my day and I am no longer on “survival mode” , I still cannot wait going back to the office.
How do you feel about working from home? What are the challenges that you face and do you have any tips to overcome them?