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During the ongoing coronavirus crisis, many professionals have to work from home. In addition, the governments have imposed a contact ban. Some might get bored due to these social distancing measures and compensate by working overtime. Others feel the economic pressure of their employers. As they are afraid of losing their jobs, their level of commitment is even higher than usually. In the end, there are many reasons for overtime work. In all cases, however, this might result in overworking including all its negative accompanying symptoms or even burnout. Read our five tips to help you maintain your health and well-being even in difficult times.
1. Set boundaries
2. Planning and prioritising tasks
3. Avoid distractions
4. Take breaks
5. Rest your mind
Try to set up a workplace that offers enough space and good lighting conditions. Also, make sure you use a chair allowing you to sit in an upright position. Your workspace is your personal area – this should also be communicated to the people you live with. Besides, they should be informed about your working hours at home. During these times, you should not be disturbed and not perform any domestic duties.
Of course it becomes even more difficult to set boundaries if you have to look after children. Tips on how to deal with this situation can be found in our guide "Working from home with children".
You should start your day by making a realistic plan including all important and urgent tasks, as this helps you to focus on the right things.
If other colleagues are involved, stay in regular contact with them to make sure that you all remain focussed and reach your goals together. Meeting for a digital coffee break in the morning can be helpful here. Remember that every completed task is a success – and successes are even more important when working from home.
Failures, on the other hand, can have a strong negative effect on your well-being. As you might be confronted with unforeseen tasks rather often in these times, you should have the courage to say no. You should critically question whether the task actually makes sense in the current situation. Also, check if the task might overwhelm you. If you have to take on additional tasks, you should set a realistic time frame. If you overwork yourself and, in the worst case, burnout occurs, neither you nor your employer will be helped.
When working from home, it is very easy to get sidetracked, especially in the current situation, where red-hot news are published every minute. Thus, you should move everything that might distract you away from your desk. If you lose focus because you see or hear something interesting, it might be difficult to concentrate again. In the end, you are wasting precious time.
You should therefore mute or, even better, turn off your private smartphone and put it aside. If this is not possible, at least turn off some services such as push notifications. TV and radio should always be switched off.
This is important in the office, but even more when working from home: take breaks and don’t eat at your desk. If you work at the kitchen table, you could use the balcony or terrace to have lunch, depending on your housing situation.
It is important to create a separation between work and break, if possible. A short walk might also help to clear your mind.
When your working day is over, it should actually be over. Avoid returning to work late, e.g. when the kids are in bed.
At the end of the day, you should shut down your computer and put everything aside. If you work in a separate room, leave it and close the door behind you, and try to leave it closed until you start working again the next day.
Try to use only private devices for further private communication. That way, you can avoid reading work messages which could make you return to work. If none of this is possible, you can still minimise the time that you spend looking at your work e-mails. Limit yourself to checking them only once or twice a night.
Keep yourself busy with things you enjoy. Cook something delicious, for example, or do some sports. Play with your kids or walk the dog. Your activities after work should have nothing to do with your job or the current situation. Focus on positive things instead of worrying about coronavirus.
It is certainly not easy to separate job and private life when working from home permanently. However, you can maintain a good balance with self-discipline and by applying clear and simple rules. One last piece of advice: the time you save by not commuting to work is yours. Make the most of it!
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