Winning The WFH Mental Game

WFH Is A Mental Challenge: Learn How To Beat It
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Summary: Working from home poses serious challenges. In this article, we will cover work-life balance, setting boundaries, addressing WFH burnout, and getting a WFH buddy.

WFH Is A Mental Challenge, Here Is How You Beat It

Working from home can pose serious mental challenges because you might find yourself working all of the time and with fewer outlets to relax. In this article, we will cover how to overcome these challenges and thrive while WFH.

Specifically, we are going to help you with the following:

  1. Improving your work-life balance and setting boundaries
  2. Identifying and addressing WFH burnout
  3. Trying a WFH Buddy

Work-Life Balance And Boundary Setting

One of the most important, albeit overlooked aspects of working from home, is the pursuit of work-life balance. The lack of a commute probably means you’ve substituted driving hours for additional screen time and emails. According to the Wall Street Journal, American workers have spent 60 million fewer hours commuting during the pandemic. Work took up most of that time, accounting for more than 22 million hours each workday!

You’re certainly not alone if you are struggling with work-life balance as a remote worker. If you are struggling, we strongly advise that you start by setting boundaries. Boundaries are rules rooted in principles to give yourself the mental, physical, and temporal distance you need away from your work. Everyone needs space. But only you can give it to yourself.

Setting boundaries is the first step in managing your work-life balance. Larry Page, the former CEO of Google, famously said he strives to “put more wood behind fewer arrows.” In short, do fewer things but do each individual thing better. Quality is critical, and boundaries help you obtain better outputs.

Here are our recommendations for setting boundaries:

  • Create clear communication structures
    Be confident and push back when more stuff is put on your plate. Say “no.” Remember Larry Page’s advice: do more by doing fewer things.
  • Set a higher standard for attending meetings
    Don’t attend meetings that don’t have a formalized agenda that has not been shared ahead of time. Jeff Bezos has said that formalizing Amazon’s meeting structure was the “smartest thing we ever did [1].” The company focuses meetings around structured memos and agendas, which creates the context for what will be a good discussion, instead of wasting precious time. Respect your time. Meetings without agendas don’t respect your time.
  • Stop taking meetings during all hours of the day
    Set calendar work hours in your calendar system. Don’t let people schedule you too early [2] in the morning or too late at night. If you do get a calendar invite outside of your work hours, kindly and respectfully push-back. Reply: “I usually don’t take calls at this time, I hope we can reschedule this meeting.”
  • Place electronics far away during non-work hours
    Remove your laptop from your bedroom. Power off your work phone. Physically make yourself harder to reach. Unless you are the CEO of a company, your firm will likely be just fine if you are not reachable during off-hours (and if you are the CEO, you need some time off as well [3]).

Job Burnout And What To Do About It

Over two-thirds of employees are currently experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home, according to a survey by Monster. According to Mayo Clinic, job burnout is "a special type of work-related stress—a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity [4]."

Mayo Clinic has identified questions that you can ask yourself to identify burnout:

  • Have you become overly critical at work?
  • Do you feel like you have to drag yourself to work?
  • Do you have trouble getting started in the morning?
  • Have you become impatient with people you work with?
  • Do you consistently lack energy?
  • Do you feel a lack of satisfaction from achievements?
  • Are you using food, drugs, or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?

You might be experiencing WFH burnout if you answered yes to one or more of these questions.

If you’re feeling burned out, here’s what you can do about it:

  • Do a relaxing activity
    Explore programs that can distract you from work. Yoga [5], meditation [6], or tai chi [7] can help with stress reduction.
  • Explore options
    Start with an upfront conversation with your coworkers and your boss. Try to change the expectations leading to your burnout, set goals around what is urgent and what can wait.
  • Exercise
    Regular physical activity can help you better deal with anxiety and can take your mind off of the work leading to your burnout. You can try a variety of home exercises and stretching or find a workout product [8] that fits your lifestyle and WFH space.
  • Sleep
    Sleep is critical in restoring your well-being. Not only will you feel better rested, but sleep is also proven to help protect your health.
  • Practice mindfulness
    Beyond meditation, mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and practicing awareness. Mindfulness involves being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling at every moment. You do this without interpretation or judgment to live in the moment.
  • Seek support
    Connect with friends, coworkers, or loved ones. Their support and collaboration might help you cope. They might be going through the same thing. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of relevant services.

Job burnout affects both your physical and mental health. People try all types of things to reduce their stress and combat burnout, we suggest trying the above methods. We all wish that we could take a vacation, but airline travel has decreased by 96% due to COVID-19 and you need to make the best of your situation where you are.

Try A Work From Home Buddy

A work from home buddy can also help you tackle burnout. Find a mentor, a peer, a colleague, or a friend who can help you; who you can joke with; who you can speak candidly with; who you can rely on; and, who has your back.

Anyone come to mind? Connect with them and let them know you’re thinking of them.

Here is a template that you can use to establish this relationship:

Hi [Name], I wanted to connect with you as I respect you and value our conversations. I have never tried to formalize an official “buddy system” but want to give it a shot. Are you open to meeting weekly or bi-weekly to check-in and help each other out?

Wrapping It All Up

To take back your time, reinvigorate your work, and drive mental wellbeing here are some suggestions:

  • Try at least one of our recommendations to set boundaries and take back your time.
  • Try at least one of our recommendations if you think you are experiencing burnout.
  • Block off 30 minutes to 1 hour in your calendar right now—don’t wait.

Your mental health is critical. Make sure you are working on it.


[1] Jeff Bezos: This is the ‘smartest thing we ever did’ at Amazon

[2] How to Create a Daily Work-From-Home Schedule

[3] 9 CEOs on how they prevent themselves from feeling burned out

[4] Job burnout: How to spot it and take action

[5] A 10 Minute WFH Yoga Break to Refocus Your Body and Mind

[6] Mindfully transitioning to a WFH culture

[7] Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress

[8] Best Exercise Bikes For a Small Apartment