The rise of remote work setups during the pandemic has changed how we work. It’s an arrangement that provides a personal leeway for employees to control their time and productivity while working.
Add that to the eliminated worry of catching the virus while commuting to work (plus not having to think of what to wear), and it sounds too good to be true, right? But modern solutions also entail different kinds of challenges and stresses.
What are the stresses of working from home?
Despite the promises of work-life balance, there is a significant percentage of employees who have experienced higher levels of stress because of working from home.
Why? One of the main challenges they cited is the blurred boundaries between home and work commitments. For some people, their house is not the most suitable (or safe) venue to work, making it hard to focus on their deliverables at work.
Distractions also play a big part in making remote work challenging. Nowadays, there are a lot of digital distractions that can trigger stress while working, like browsing (too much) on social media.
External factors also affect productivity. Imagine a neighbor drilling outside just in time for a client presentation? Or the delivery guy ringing the doorbell while you’re in the middle of focus writing? It’s a hassle.
How to manage work stress in the digital era?
Once the novelty of working in your pajamas rubs off, that’s when you have to cope with work stress in the digital era. So, pull up your notepads, and let’s get you organized!
Tip #1: Plan out your day.
We know, we know. Not everyone is born a planner. But when you’re working from home physically unsupervised (by no one but yourself), you have to keep track of your work deliverables. That’s what daily task trackers are for!
If you have a list of what you’re going to do, you can feel more accomplished when you tick them off–one by one at the end of the day. Daily to-do lists are also a good source of pressure when you find yourself distracted and unproductive. You can maximize digital tools and online planners or take the classic sticky notes or bullet journal approach.
Remember: there are different planners for all kinds of employees and personas. Some are agenda-based, while some like to plot their day hour by hour. So, don’t sweat it! Planning can simply be writing down your tasks and sorting them based on importance. You can also treat it as a blank canvas!
Easy peasy, right? But abiding by your plans is the hard part. It is when you need to double the effort to achieve them!
Tip #2: Dedicate CLEAR boundaries.
Boundaries are the core of a healthy and productive remote work setup. They apply both physically and emotionally. It means dedicating a space for work separated from your commitments. You can do this by transforming an old study room or building on a quiet corner in your house to serve as your home office.
Of course, this may not apply to everyone. Not all of us have the privilege to create a work corner. But that doesn’t mean that boundary is unachievable. You can work around setting a “do not disturb” mode and advise your loved ones to refrain from unnecessary disturbances. This allows you to focus on your work tasks at hand.
After that, learn how to turn off your laptop and silence your email notifications past working hours. Make time to catch up with family members without the need to check your messaging applications—especially for work-related ones. You might feel guilty for this, but breaks are necessary to keep track of your well-being.
Constant stress from unhealthy work-life boundaries is the root of burnout and unproductivity. Avoid that by communicating your boundaries to your loved ones or housemates, as well as your employer and colleagues.
Tip #3: Practice self-care.
From commuting to micromanaging bosses—stress has always been a part of being an employee. But as time goes by, these problems evolved at the peak of digital transformation. Stress from slow traffic became worries for slow internet. Standing on the bus while on the way to work during rush hours, transformed into chronic back pains from sitting too long in front of your computer.
While every era has a unique set of challenges, it is our task to take care of ourselves amidst these stresses. So, even if you’re just working from home, please do not disregard your overall wellness. Make sure to get up from your home-office chair now and then. This helps in improving blood flow in your body and prevents muscle cramps and strained eyes.
Another essential tip: always hydrate! Never be too busy to not drink your water. Hydrating has a lot of benefits. It is a natural remedy for skin concerns like acne and eye bags due to lack of sleep or stress from work.
Another thing—advising to exercise is not for everyone’s lifestyle (as some people work multiple jobs a day). However, you can try to get active as much as you can. Take a 10-20 minutes break and walk outside. Moving around keeps your mind more alert and allows you to get a breather in between work.
If your mind is stressed, it will manifest in your body. So, when thinking of self-care, always include your mental health. Do breathing exercises, practice basic yoga poses, and just clear your mind for a good 10 minutes. These will help you in controlling emotions and developing a renewed focus—at work and in life.
In a remote work setup, there will be days when getting up is the best you could do. So, don’t pressure yourself to always have it all together.
When you plan, treat your planner as a guide while making every task a motivation. You don’t have to be productive all the time—don’t center your worth on the things you achieve! Moreover, allow yourself to get accustomed to setting boundaries. It’s okay to say no to your loved ones and colleagues! Lastly, take care of yourself—wholeheartedly.
If you feel like you need a friend to guide you through stresses beyond work, start a better life with Danielle Palmer and book here.