Many dot com moguls, freelance writers, and other people who work from home are prone to burnout, because it is far too easy to accept more work than you can handle. Work-at-home professionals can suffer from an illusion of freedom, leading to a guilt trip if they are not working at every possible opportunity. Burnout is one of those things that sneaks up on you without you really realizing it, and that’s why you need to keep an eye out for signs that you are suffering from burnout.
After recognizing that you may be overworking yourself, how can you go about rectifying the situation? What I have outlined below are five key strategies that you can try to minimize the effects of burnout and to ultimately overcome it.
Research has shown that regular exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants, helping to improve both your mood and your energy levels. By participating in physical activity on a regular basis — particularly cardiovascular exercise — you will generally be happier and more energetic. This will help you get through your day a little easier and you won’t feel as exhausted all the time. You have no excuse for not exercising regularly. Don’t forget to get plenty of sleep too!
Get a Hobby
I’ve talked before about the importance of taking well-deserved breaks and these are a great way to combat burnout. It doesn’t really matter what your hobby is, so long as it does a good job of getting your mind off of work for a few hours each week. Join a sports team, start collecting stamps, watch a movie, or play some Wii. Whatever it is, don’t forget to maintain that healthy life-work balance.
Learn to Say No
Working from home is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, your income is theoretically only limited by how much you want to work. On the other hand, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. As a result, many freelancers start to take on any projects that are offered to them and they end over-extending themselves. You don’t need to accept every paying gig! You’d be amazed how liberating it is to just say no. Subject matter doesn’t interest you? Payout level is too low? Just say no and find more interesting (and better paying) work elsewhere.
Set Your Schedule
This may or may not be a good strategy for everyone, but if you have a hard time convincing yourself to start work in the morning or you find yourself working well into the wee hours of the night, it might be a good idea to give yourself a set working schedule. Yes, I realize that part of the appeal of working from home is that your schedule is much more flexible, but if you don’t have the mindset and self-control, you might need a set working schedule. This also works for freelancers who feel they don’t work enough.
Family and Friends
Serving as your checks and balances, it is often a good idea to get the third party perspective from your friends and family. You naturally have a huge vested interest in yourself and in your business, so ask those around you if they think you are working too much or working too little. Ask if you’ve appeared more restless, lethargic, or disgruntled lately. These sobering views can remind you of the importance of spending time with these people; don’t chase money for its own sake.