Working from home has become a common option for many professionals in the modern era. However, not all remote workers enjoy the same benefits of flexibility, autonomy and productivity that are often associated with this mode of work. Some work from home workers find themselves working around the clock, without clear boundaries between their personal and professional lives. Why do some work from home work 24/7? And what can they do to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance?
There are several factors that can contribute to the phenomenon of working 24/7 from home. Some of them are:
- Lack of a dedicated workspace: Working from home can blur the lines between where work ends and where home begins. If you don’t have a separate room or area for your work, you may be tempted to check your emails, answer calls or finish tasks at any time of the day or night. This can make it hard to switch off and relax after work hours.
- Lack of a regular schedule: Working from home can also mean working at your own pace and according to your own preferences. While this can be liberating for some, it can also lead to procrastination, distraction or overwork for others. If you don’t have a fixed routine or set goals for your workday, you may end up working longer than necessary or at odd hours to catch up or meet deadlines.
- Lack of social interaction: Working from home can isolate you from your colleagues, clients and other professional contacts. You may miss the camaraderie, feedback and support that come from face-to-face communication. You may also feel lonely, bored or disconnected from your work culture and values. This can affect your motivation, performance and well-being.
- Lack of boundaries: Working from home can expose you to various demands and expectations from different sources. You may have to juggle your work responsibilities with your family obligations, household chores, personal interests and hobbies. You may also have to deal with interruptions, distractions or requests from your spouse, children, pets or neighbors. You may feel guilty or pressured to attend to all these aspects of your life without compromising on any of them.
These factors can create a vicious cycle of working 24/7 from home. The more you work, the more stressed, tired and overwhelmed you become. The more stressed, tired and overwhelmed you become, the less productive, efficient and creative you are. The less productive, efficient and creative you are, the more you feel the need to work harder and longer to compensate.
So how can you break this cycle and achieve a healthy work-life balance while working from home? Here are some tips:
- Create a dedicated workspace: Set up a comfortable, ergonomic and well-lit space for your work at home. Ideally, it should be a separate room or area that you can close off from the rest of your house. Make sure it has all the equipment, tools and resources you need for your work. Keep it clean, organized and clutter-free. Use it only for work-related activities and avoid using it for leisure or personal purposes.
- Establish a regular schedule: Plan your workday ahead of time and stick to it as much as possible. Set clear start and end times for your work and take breaks in between. Define your priorities, goals and tasks for each day and week and track your progress and achievements. Use a calendar, planner or app to organize your time and remind yourself of deadlines and appointments. Communicate your schedule to your colleagues, clients and family members and respect theirs as well.
- Stay connected: Maintain regular contact with your co-workers, managers and other professional contacts through phone calls, video calls, emails or instant messages. Participate in virtual meetings, trainings and events that are relevant to your work. Share your ideas, opinions and feedback with others and seek theirs as well. Join online communities or groups that relate to your industry, field or interests. Network with people who can help you grow professionally or personally.
- Set boundaries: Learn to say no to requests or demands that are unreasonable, unrealistic or irrelevant to your work. Delegate tasks that are not within your scope or expertise to others who can handle them better. Negotiate deadlines that are feasible and fair for both you and your clients. Turn off notifications or devices that are not essential for your work during your work hours. Inform your family members, friends and neighbors of your availability and expectations during your work hours.
- Take care of yourself: Make time for yourself every day to relax, recharge and enjoy life outside of work. Do activities that make you happy, such as reading, listening to music, watching a movie or playing a game. Exercise regularly, eat healthily and sleep well. Seek help from a professional if you feel depressed, anxious or stressed beyond your coping abilities. Don’t neglect your physical, emotional and mental health in pursuit of your work goals.
Working from home can be a great way to balance your personal and professional life, but it requires discipline, organization and boundaries. By creating a dedicated workspace, establishing a regular schedule, staying connected, setting boundaries and taking care of yourself, you can avoid the trap of working 24/7 from home and enjoy the benefits of remote work without sacrificing your well-being.
Working from home can provide many benefits, such as increased flexibility, autonomy, and productivity. However, it is essential to be mindful of the potential downsides, including blurring the lines between work and home life, feeling isolated, and working excessively. By applying the tips discussed above, remote workers can create a sustainable and healthy work-life balance that allows them to achieve their professional goals without sacrificing their well-being. As the popularity of remote work continues to grow, individuals who are considering working from home should take the time to understand the advantages and challenges associated with this mode of work and develop a plan to avoid burnout and maintain a fulfilling life.