We’ve all done it – it’s really easy to do.

“I just need five more minutes to finish this project and then I’ll be done for the day, I promise.” And before you know it, it’s 8:30, you’ve worked a 12-hour day, and you’re completely burnt out and it’s not even Wednesday.

Suddenly doing the simple things like watching a movie or joining a virtual happy hour sounds draining. After all, you’ve spent the last three days on five different Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings, you’ve had two conference phone calls, and the idea of talking or looking into another piece of technology is the last thing you want to do.

So how do you avoid technology burnout when you’re required to stay inside? I recently attended a webinar keynoted by Sara J. Ross that focused on shifting your mindset to be more productive while you telework and to help you set boundaries to avoid burnout and negative reactions. Here were some of her biggest recommendations:

  • Reframe Your Mindset: One of the most important things to manage during this pandemic is working to shift your thinking from negative to positive. Let’s practice. What are some things you’re happy to NOT be doing right now? Embrace the things you’re grateful for, whether that’s not having a commute, not running constant errands, or not packing a lunch every day. Write them down and remind yourself to find the joy in the little things.
  • Set a Routine: Think back to February – what did a typical workday look like? Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean your routine has to go away. Sure, your kids/significant other are home and there are distractions, but sticking to a schedule (as best as you can) is vital to your mental success. Having a dedicated work space gets you into “work mode” and helps with productivity. You probably watched the clock to see when it was time for lunch or to close up shop for the day – set your routine and stick to it.
  • Take a Break: Even when you were in the office, you didn’t sit at your desk all day (at least we hope not). Go for a walk, eat lunch in an area where your computer isn’t, give some love to your pet, talk to your quarantine buddy for a little bit. The point is, take mini breaks throughout the work day to help rest your eyes and reset your brain for better productivity.
  • Unplug From the Digital World: This is so important – turn off your computer and put it out of sight when the workday is over. Ross recommends a rule of 3, 2, 1: Three hours before bed, finish up any strenuous exercise; two hours before bed, close your email and shut down work; and, one hour before bed, shut down your electronics and read a book to relax your mind. Getting a decent night’s sleep will clean out and reset your brain for the next day.

We’re all trying to find the calm in this storm, so using some techniques that can relieve stress and set boundaries are worth a shot. In the meantime, find something you’re looking forward to when this all ends to keep you excited. And, it’s ok to say no to that virtual happy hour – your mental wellbeing comes first.

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Allison DeFelice