How to Avoid Burnout After Working From Home for a Year
In the fall of 2021 many workers will be returning to the office in at least a part-time capacity. Commutes, business travel, and children’s busy school and extracurricular schedules will ramp up and you’ll want to avoid burnout. If the impending busyness already makes you feel stress, consider strategically using your summer to refresh before life gets back to a more “normal” cadence.
Avoid Work From Home Burnout
- Make a plan now for how you will use your vacation time throughout the rest of the year.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, Americans fail miserably at using their vacation days. In 2018 American workers left 768 million days unused, up 9 percent from 2017 unused. Of the unused days, 236 million were forfeited completely, equating to $65.5 billion in lost benefits. More than half (55 percent) of workers reported they did not use all their allotted time off.
Whether you want to take a week here and a week there or if you want to adopt a “summer Fridays” mentality, go ahead and make a plan for how you will use these days. Remember, if you don’t use your time off you are essentially working for free on those days. A lot of offices do slow down over the summer, so you may want to split your time off between the summer and some fall and winter holidays.
- Rethink your approach to technology and implement new habits for the summer.
If you have been leading a team where your people anticipate emails from you late at night and they also anticipate that you want an immediate response go ahead and address that narrative. It’s never too late to say “sometimes I need to shoot off an email later in the evening, but it doesn’t mean you have to check email after hours.”
A research study from LeHigh University found that those who feel expected to check and answer email during “off” hours are more likely to experience burnout.
Releasing your team from feeling bound to email at all hours of the day and night will help them feel like they are really getting a break from work. It will help them avoid burnout and benefit your organization in the long run as avoiding burnout leads to higher retention rates.
- Remember: “no” is a complete sentence.
Just because life around you may be getting back to pre-pandemic levels of busyness, it doesn’t mean you have to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes your way. Maybe you don’t need to sit on that extra committee at work. Perhaps that networking call doesn’t have to happen right now.
Remember, everything you say “yes” to ultimately does mean you’re saying “no” to something else. So carve out margin in your schedule where it’s possible. Just because the CDC says you can go back to travel and in-person daily meetings doesn’t mean that you have to.
The global pandemic upended normal routines of work and life. And even when you have the opportunity to return to a lot of “normalcy” you can also choose to keep the surprising benefits of simplicity as well. Use this season of transition to be thoughtful about your habits, your expectations of others, and what really is necessary, before just going back to life as it was before.