Virtual working during the pandemic has helped many more people experience what long-term remote workers have always known: that working from home often means working even harder than you did in the office. While days and weeks packed end to end with work responsibilities can improve productivity and make employers happy, failing to take breaks and time off can leave you burned out and disengaged.
That’s why it’s important to learn to recognize when it’s time to pull the plug on work projects. It also helps to have some ideas at the ready on the best kinds of rest-day activities to help you stay refreshed for the long game as a remote worker.
Enough Is Enough
The amorphous structure of working from home can quickly lead to an “always-on” mentality. With no clear beginning or end to your workday, it’s easy to reach for your smartphone and start emailing colleagues before you’ve even rolled out of bed and to continue to this “checking” behavior long after office-based staff have closed the door on their workload for the evening.
While you may be able to burn the candle at both ends effectively for a period of time, everyone has limits, and unplugging from work and taking a day off before you hit yours is key to ensuring a steady flow of energy and effectiveness throughout your workweek.
But how do you know when to call it quits in exchange for a day of recharging? One clear indicator is finding yourself losing focus on what you need to get done. If you notice that you’ve had to reread the same sentence multiple times to absorb its meaning or keep getting distracted and are repeatedly having to bring your attention back to the task at hand, that’s a good clue that a rest day would help renew your mental mettle.
Another natural time to give yourself the gift of a day-long hiatus from remote work is after finishing a large project. While you may feel inclined to keep pushing in order to tackle the next task on your list, consider that doing something different for 24 hours may help you take on the upcoming to-dos with more gas in your tank and can unleash your creative juices.
Finally, listen to your body. If you’ve been spending too much time planted in your desk chair and your neck and shoulders are complaining, or your eyes are dry from too many hours of screen staring, then taking a day away from your standard typing position can help keep you dodge overuse injuries, like tendinitis and eye strain, as well as keep headaches at bay.
Avoid the “Busman’s Holiday“
Being a virtual work dynamo is no guarantee that you’ll be good at identifying and practicing the self-care activities that can ensure you’ll stay fresh and invigorated at your job. Your top priority should be to steer clear of the so-called “busman’s holiday,” which is any hobby or recreation that ends up mirroring what you do every day at work.
For example, if your job requires you to spend hours on the computer, then you don’t want to spend your day off playing video games on your laptop. If you’re a sales rep who spends eight hours a day on the phone, then don’t schedule back-to-back calls during your coveted free time. Likewise, if your job involves extensive reading or writing tasks, then it’s smart to temporarily table these activities on your day off, even if you love them.
Instead, if your job keeps you cooped up in your home office, then get outside and enjoy a change of scenery, whether that means going for a hike, a bike ride, a picnic, or spending time hanging out in your backyard. If you usually work outside, then shifting some time indoors can allow you to focus and center doing activities of your choosing, whether playing games, watching movies, or reading a book that interests you. The goal should be to choose something to do that’s a counterpoint to your work to give your brain and body a break from the things you do routinely.
Working remotely can be very taxing, particularly when you don’t honor your physical and mental health needs for some time to tune out. By understanding when it’s the right time to take a break from remote work and choosing your day-off activities wisely, you’ll prime your mind and motivation to fire on all cylinders again when you return.
By Robin Madell | September 27, 2021 | Categories: Work Remotely
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