Whether you're working from home every day or going to an office, burnout is happening at an alarming rate to our workforce. Burnout, or the overwhelming feeling of mental and physical exhaustion, even affects those who typically enjoy their jobs. The problem has become so widespread that companies are reporting that they are facing an employee burnout crisis.
Airship's remote-first crew is filled with fully remote team members who live across the country and local team members who live here in Birmingham, Ala. We asked crew members to share their struggles with burnout at work and advice for setting boundaries to prevent burnout from creeping in.
What does burnout feel like?
It's important to learn to recognize your own individual internal cues, and individual external triggering factors. Do you notice changes in normal patterns of behavior? Changes in physiological needs or functioning, particularly changes in sleep habits, eating habits, and/or overall energy levels?
Intervene as soon as you notice your cues!
We asked our crew members to describe what burnout feels likes for them:
- When you wake up in the morning and don’t want to do what you love about your job.
- It’s not always about the job. It’s also just sitting in front of the computer all day.
- Lack of motivation. Exhaustion, like doing reps when you’re working out.
- It feels like you're a zombie on a treadmill.
- The list never ends. It's exhausting to the point where I need to take a nap to take my mind off it.
- The heavy burden of impossible expectations that you set for yourself. Feeling the need to prove that you are good enough.
- You become overwhelmed and begin to compare yourself to those who are more experienced, who have been around longer...
- To fight that, I remind myself to work my lane, my hours and be proud of that.
Tips for Setting Boundaries to Fight Burnout
If you struggle with setting boundaries between your personal space and your work space, join the club. More than 38% of remote workers struggle to achieve a healthy balance between work and home life.
Taking a vacation or a brief break from work is oft-repeated advice. It’s well-meaning, but doesn't fix the root of the issue. In fact, some research indicates that the average vacation actually offers no improvements in people’s levels of energy or happiness upon returning to work, especially if there’s stressful travel involved.
If you’re truly dealing with burnout, it’s going to take more than a few days with your toes in the sand to patch things up. You need to change your circumstances, otherwise that time off will just be a momentary pause from reality—and you’ll end up back exactly where you started.
We asked our remote crew for tips on our how they handle setting boundaries around their time between work and home.
- Always communicate when you’re available and when you’re not.
- In addition to a defined morning and evening routine, time blocking is a productivity technique that helps you to gain more control over your time and energy throughout the day. It requires you to realistically assess your workload and schedule and make strategic decisions on how you’ll maximize your time while working.
- Set flexible and intentional boundaries around your workload
- Ex: "Let me check in on my capacity before I respond to that request.”
- Designate space(s) in your house where you will NOT work and where your computer is not allowed to go.
- Don’t go to sleep with a laptop in your bed - keep your sleep space clear of work.
- Leaving something and coming back with new vision is sometimes the best thing to do.
- Make sure you’re not staying in a space where there are little fires everywhere. If that’s where you’re living constantly, that’s not good. How can you be sure you are prioritizing problems correctly? If everything’s a fire, then nothing’s a fire.
- Then, you’ll be able to notice the real fires and that they are not a normal thing.
- Set an alarm for 5 p.m. to end your day. If you need to keep working past 5, hit snooze instead of switching it off. That way you are aware of what time you finish working.
- Try to remember that if you continue to work into the evening, then you won’t have the energy to work tomorrow.
- Create a "commute" by adding in “ramp up” and “ramp down” time before and after work. This combats the abrupt changes between going straight from work to kids.
- Imagine this as the decompression time you would typically have in a commute home after work, a time where you can more easily transition your brain to stop thinking about work.
By creating and upholding strong boundaries with yourself, household, and team at work, you'll invite less stress and more ease into your life. And just maybe, you'll enjoy more moments of true work-life balance.
Interested in joining a new crew?
If you're interested in joining a new crew and ready for a fresh start, Airship is hiring!
Check out our Lever job board to see our available positions and learn how to apply here.