Working from home burnout – here’s why it happens and here’s how to deal with it

Like it or not, pretty much everyone has had a chance to experience working from home thanks to COVID.

First there was anxiety about having to learn how to cope with it so quickly.

Then many people found their flow for a while and were thinking “this is great, I never want to go back to the office”.

And now we are seeing that working from home burnout is having many people revise that 5 day plan to just one or two days from home (if that).

Here are just some of the reasons why we are seeing burnout:

  • Not taking breaks throughout the day
  • Not taking time off work
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Lack of incidental movement
  • Lack of mental fitness
  • No home office or at least a lack of proper desk, chair, lighting etc
  • Zoom fatigue – watch out for a whole other blog on the neuroscience of zoom fatigue
  • And of course……Home-schooling (I don’t have kids but that looks REALLY hard!)


So how do we deal with all of this?

As we often say at Next Evolution Performance – make routine out of the non-routine.

We weren’t designed to sit and work for hours on end. In fact, as far as heavy cognitive energy goes – you only have about 4-6 hours a day. So trying to sit there and work for 10 hours just because you aren’t commuting or getting any natural incidental exercise, is a fairly dumb idea if increasing your productivity is your goal.

So taking breaks is crucial – long, short, whatever mimics the incidental movement you would get during the day. If going to the bathroom normally takes 150 steps in an office, well walk 150 steps around your house before you land in your bathroom. Back to back Zoom meetings – finish one a few minutes early and walk around your home as though you are getting to another meeting room.

Exercise – get it done. No excuses. Your brain needs it just as much as your body does (actually it needs it more than your body does). There are so many online options that you don’t even need to leave your home.

When it comes to social interaction, different people need different amounts of it. Work out how much you need, how much you would normally get, and try to mimic it as much as possible using technology. Or perhaps you do get back to the office asap to help with that.

Many people didn’t have great mental fitness at the start of Covid, and just as sitting on the couch for months doesn’t do much for your physical fitness, working from home can also drain your mental fitness. So it’s important to do the simple stuff. For me it’s appreciating nature (which can be done from my back window or out on a run or walk with my dog). Just focusing on things you are grateful for can also help. It’s all training for your brain which might not seem like much in isolation, but all adds up to build more helpful neural wiring.

As for home-schooling – hopefully this is not something we’ll have to deal with again so just reward yourself with a nice glass of wine and give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far!

But seriously, if home-schooling does happen again, go easy on yourself and if you and your partner can take it in turns with the kids so that you can each get four super productive hours in a day, that’s a lot more effective output than many people produce.

If you need help with anything about working from home effectively, from structuring your days better to optimise brain function, to enhancing mental fitness, please get in touch.

You can also check out for our “Neuroscience of getting more done” online course to help you turbocharge your most productive hours in your day.