While we hesitate to call anything associated with the pandemic "the good ol' days," we have to admit feeling a bit wistful for the early weeks of lockdown, when working (and doing everything else) from home felt like a novelty. We picked up (and sometimes quickly abandoned) new hobbies. We binged every new show across every streaming platform. We did our workouts via YouTube and made whipped coffee simply because everyone else on our newsfeed was doing it.
In the face of a global health crisis, we did what we had to do to take care of ourselves. But eventually, reality set in. Work still needed to get done, and doing it from home meant it could be done anytime, anywhere. The lines between work time and personal time got blurred, and we found ourselves on a rapid trajectory to burnout.
The last year hasn't just impacted those suddenly thrust into the remote work life. It was also a significant challenge to digital nomads and the work-from-anywhere crowd, who found their wandering spirits confined by travel restrictions and closed borders.
In fact, 76 percent of workers said stress on the job led to a decline in their mental health and exacerbated symptoms of depression and anxiety. The answer to increased burnout and dissatisfaction? It's a lesson we've forgotten since the early days of the crisis: self-care. And it's critical to remote workers, whether in a pandemic or not. Here, we're guiding you through some tips to take care of yourself, avoid burnout, and live your life in harmony.
Rituals are basically just habits, usually done in a particular order at a particular time. Rituals give us a needed break from the grind and provide comfort and stability. Creating a morning and evening ritual is a great place to start and allows you to both begin and end your day with something both enjoyable and meaningful. Here are some of our favorites:
No, seriously. Get. Out. Of. Bed. In the morning, set an alarm and start your day as if you were going into the office. Get up, complete your morning ritual, and get ready to face the day ahead. Also, avoid the temptation to work from the comfort of your California king. It lessens productivity and makes you feel more tired, but it can also make it harder to fall asleep when it's actually time for bed because you'll associate it with being "on" rather than being at rest.
Most employers or clients don't expect you to be available 24/7, and general wisdom is now leaning away from the traditional 40-hour workweek. One of the downsides of remote work is the disconnect of not having in-person interaction or set hours in an office environment, and it can lead to an over-reliance on technology or a sense of FOMO if you aren't at your desk or on your phone. The key to maintaining a remote work/life balance is to separate one from the other, so you can give your attention more fully to each. Here's how:
There are countless apps and tools out there designed to help you manage your time and maintain work/life balance. The popular choice is Todoist, and it can be a game-changer. It's a simple, user-friendly app with very little learning curve and lots of functionality. Create to-do lists separated by project, set deadlines, tag different types of tasks, and even attach files for easy access. The free plan offers plenty of features to get you started, and if you decide to upgrade, the annual pro plan is low-cost and completely worthwhile. Plus, even if you're not super into organization, the satisfaction of checking off tasks and hitting your targets is second to none.
No, we don't mean looking for Mr. or Ms. Right. But maintaining relationships is critical to taking care of yourself, and making time for them is key. Loneliness is a huge challenge for remote workers, but it can be combatted. Plan a date night with a good friend, have a nice dinner with your partner, or give your kids a "yes day" where they get your undivided attention. After more than a year of being socially distant, it's time to reconnect with the people who bring you joy (even if they've been living in the same house with you all these months).
Remote workers often feel isolated, especially when they're working primarily from home. However, as their ranks continue to rise, more companies are catering to their specific needs. Visit a coworking space to get your office fix, or join an online digital nomad community to make connections with like-minded professionals.
Give yourself permission to focus on your needs, and remember this truth: self-care is not selfish. You can't pour from an empty pitcher, and you can't care for those around you without first caring for yourself. Burnout damages your career, but more importantly, it damages your relationships and your health. Prioritize your basic needs, like eating, sleeping, and taking care of your mental health. Plan fun activities you can look forward to. Nurture your curiosity, and learn new things. Identify your passion, and make time for it. Give yourself the gift of saying "no," and be open to saying "yes" to the important things.
Remote work is challenging and at times, overwhelming. But it's also flexible, freeing, and empowering. To reap the full benefits of the remote work lifestyle, you have to make your own well-being your top priority. Want more insights into the work-from-anywhere lifestyle? Check out our #RemoteWork blog!