What to Do When You’re Burned Out from Working At Home
When you’ve spent most of your career in an office or cubicle working from home seems like a dream come true. You have all the benefits of a steady paycheck and career satisfaction from your job with all of the creature comforts of home, including a zero-hour commute, a wardrobe ranging from yoga pants to pajamas and a stocked kitchen a few steps from your desk.
I’m one of the lucky ones. For almost three years I enjoyed two work-from-home days per week at a great job, and I now work for myself from a home office all week. But even though my career trajectory was heavily focused on having the freedom to work from home, something surprising happened along the way: I got burned out from being on my own all the time.
While the first few months or years of working from home are often refreshing and satisfying, over time it can get old. So what are you to do when you’re burned out from working from home? I have done all of the following.
Find a Co-Working Space, Rent an Office or Work at the Library
Almost 30 million Americans work from home at least once per week. Once per week might simply give you added freedom in your schedule. If you work from home full-time, however, a whole week in your house by yourself can get old.
As more people work for themselves or work virtually, co-working spaces are popping up in large cities across the country. These workspaces allow individuals from many different backgrounds to mingle, co-create or simply share office space. They are a great way to mix up your routine, get out of the house and interact with other people. If there aren’t any co-working spaces in your city you could also consider renting a small office space to increase the separation between your home life and your work life.
For me, it also helps to treat the local public library or coffee shop as an “escape” I can go to a few days per week when working at home seems oppressive. It comes rent-free, and it allows me to have the feeling of returning home from work after a long day.
Redecorate and Reorganize Your Home Office
At the risk of encouraging you to spend money to solve a problem, a small investment in your home working space can also do wonders for increasing your morale. After all, there’s a reason companies invest in office decor. It is to improve employee performance, and the same logic works for your home office.
Take some time to consider the organization of your office and the flow of the room, using resources like feng shui to give you creative ideas for desk and chair placement. Then consider investing in paint, office furniture and art that is meaningful to you to make your office a place you go to be inspired and get great work done.
This step has been particularly useful to me this month as I redecorate my office. Without realizing it I had filled my office with old, dusty and sometimes broken second-hand furniture and dark paint simply because I had the items on hand. Within a few days of painting the wall a brighter color and reorganizing the office for a much better flow I find myself much happier to wake up and get started on my week’s work.
Change Up the ‘Work’ in Working From Home
You can adjust the “work” part as well as the “home” part, too. It’s not always about your office; take a look at how you spend your time each week and brainstorm creative things you can do to renew your excitement, or simply consider different timing for different activities to get a new perspective.
Implementing new routines can have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day energy level. For example, instead of focusing on where you’re working, consider the breaks you’re taking throughout the day. Once or twice a week drive to a local park to take your daily walk or go out to lunch even though you could prepare lunch at home.
If you have control over your schedule in this way, try blocking your weekday work by task. Schedule phone calls for certain days of the week and dedicate other days of the week for specific tasks so that you have a clear rhythm. I’ve also heard of small business owners who make a point of taking Wednesday as a day off each week to embrace the feeling that they have control over their schedule, or they see a movie on a weekday morning just to shake things up.
Identify the Real Problem
Everyone is different, so it makes sense that everyone will experience working from home differently. If you’re feeling burned out about the thought of working in your home office, try to diagnose the root of the problem.
- Do you feel claustrophobic in the space you have? You might need a larger room within your home, a co-working space or to rent an office. You can also try out different libraries and places with wifi to find a good “away office.”
- Do you feel like you never speak to anyone or that you don’t have good relationships? Set aside time each week to network with business contacts from work by phone or Skype to continue to build those relationships even when you’re out of the office.
- Do you feel uninspired to work? Reorganize or redecorate your office with colors and images that energize you. Consider a standing desk, treadmill desk or a laptop so you can work from a couch or chair. Change things up until you have a space that is conducive to good work.
- Do you feel like you’re in a rut? Make creative scheduling choices based on the freedom you have with your job, including running errands early in the day and working later or using your lunch time to see a movie, take a walk at a fun park, or meet with friends.
Don’t let a temporary setback convince you that working from home is not for you. If you’ve reached a standstill on your excitement for your home office, use these tips to fall back in love with working from home.
If you currently work in an office but you’d like to work from home, don’t let this list stop you from trying it out. Use these tips to talk it over with your boss and see if the work you do could translate to working from home.