When Working From Home Becomes Working too much

So, we’re in day 14 of COVID-19 isolation. Have you found out that working from home is harder than you thought? You’re not alone. Over the next period of time, we’ll be talking about the top working from home challenges and what you can do to overcome them.

One of the top challenges this massive experiment is causing is working too much. In the short term, it may be hard to distinguish if the reason workers are working more hours is fear of job loss, more work needing to get done, or the inability of individuals to separate their home and work life. The underlying data suggests that while this uncertainty is causing a spike in working longer hours, the reality is that working from home has always had elements of too much work and lack of separation from the screen. A recent study (before COVID-19) showed that in general, WFH employees averaged 20% longer than their office counterparts. The top areas WFH employees extend their workday include:

Working from home challenges

Working during the commute.

WFH employees often feel obligated to start working when they’d normally leave the house and then stop working when they’d normally arrive home. With the average commute being over 30 minutes each way, WFH employees are potentially adding an hour a day.

Shorter / Not enough breaks

Generally, when you work from home, you’re closer to the bathroom, the kitchen, and you want to avoid sitting on your sofa or bedroom. This leads many to quickly grab their coffee, snacks, or meals and head immediately back to their office or designated working space, keeping us connected to our work.

Work follows us around

Previously, WFH employees often balance their work and home life with separate devices for accomplishing tasks. Organizations supported employees with work laptops, cell phones, etc. allowing individuals to keep their work projects from meangling with their personal lives. In our current situation, many are stuck using their personal devices as their work devices.

Working From Home Quick Fixes

Calendar and Time Management

If you don’t manage your calendar, your calendar will manage you. Schedule appointments that trigger the end of your day. Every morning, I try to take my dog for a walk before getting my “work day” started. I block this time out on my calendar as a buffer between when my personal morning ends, walking the dog, and beginning my work day. This allows me to avoid starting my work-related projects too early.

Break Time

The easiest way to make sure you take a break is to remind yourself to take a break. You can do this through a calendar app, a watch app, or just setting a reminder. The challenge here is not taking a long enough break. Find a way to get away from your workspace. Take a quick walk around the block, do a few crunches and pushups, or play a few minutes of your favorite video games. It’s been proven that even a 15 minute break can provide a burst in creativity and focus. Find 2-3 spots in the day to take your break.

Communicate with your coworkers

The world is more interconnected than ever. Personally, I work with a team all across the globe. It’s easy for someone on the west-coast to schedule a 3pm meeting, which would be 5pm for me. If I haven’t protected my calendar and I haven’t communicated well, they may not realize that I’ve already put in 8-9 hours. Let. your coworkers know which times are best for them to engage and don’t be afraid to decline a meeting invite or propose a better time that will prevent burnout.

Unplug.

When your day is over, if you can close and turn off your work devices. If you’re Bringing your own Device (BYOD), turn off work notifications until the morning. Don’t let the work suck you back in, it’s always going to be there.

Protect your lunchtime

Schedule a lunch break. Do it now. Do it daily. If you have a spouse, schedule the time with them. If you have kids, make sure you eat lunch with them at that time. The world we live in right now sucks. You can make it suck less by finding an hour a day to spend with your loved ones. If you live alone, do a video call with friends and have a virtual lunch outing. If that doesn’t work, do a lunch and learn with coworkers about a topic that ISNT related to lunch. If that doesn’t work, watch 3 episodes of the office.

Conclusion

Things are going to get better. They’re going to be different, normal will be a new normal. The workplace is going to change forever, hopefully for the better. Keep your chin down, lead with the left, and keep on going. We’re all in this together and the sun will come up again.

There are many benefits to starting your day earlier including increased productivity.

Working too much.

This is a tricky one, as individuals are trying to figure out how to work from home, how secure are their jobs, and how to balance their commitments to the business. Many individuals are finding that are working often eight 910+ hours

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In a day. Right now people are filling their commute times with work times and still working until closing time or later. This is great from a value perspective, but concerns about burnouts are growing daily. Individuals need to make sure that they don’t overwork. It’s important to find ways to better manage your calendar

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Yes, and spend time with your loved ones.