4 ways to survive at work when taking time off isn't an option

4 ways to survive at work when taking time off isn't an option

Do you find yourself staring blankly at your computer screen, unable to remember what it was you were about to do, simply because you have so many things to do?

You feel as though you are on the verge of a burnout, your friends and family keep telling you to take some time off to recharge your batteries and you know they’re right- but that just isn't an option right now. This may be because your holiday time is dwindling or simply because you have so much work that you can’t allow yourself to take a break.

I understand, I’ve been there, and before you lose all hope, there are a few methods that could help you recharge your batteries and avoid having a burnout. These methods obviously won’t replace real time off, but they could be enough to help you get by until then.

1. Shake up your routine

 

As human beings, we naturally stick to our habits and routines, also known as the ‘status quo’, without venturing outside of our comfort zone. However, it is scientifically proven that humans are always on the lookout for novelty, and whilst it might not be possible to get on the next plane to Las Vegas, you can recreate this effect by changing your routine.

Changing our routine increases the brain’s neuroplasticity (or mental flexibility), allowing us to make new connections more quickly.

These changes don’t have to be drastic, simply getting up half an hour earlier than usual to go for a run or forcing yourself to meet a friend at a concert one evening even though you feel exhausted could make a world of difference. Instead of eating lunch at your desk whilst staring at your computer screen, why not make an effort to eat with a co-worker from a different team?

 

2. Change your work environment

 

It is scientifically proven that as humans, we associate certain feelings and habits with certain environments. This means that we may associate feelings of negativity and stress to our desk or general work environment.

Making a few changes to your workspace, from something as small as buying a new plant for your desk to completely redecorating it, could help decrease the negative feelings your brain associated with your work environment. New external stimuli can also help boost your creativity.

Depending on the size of your office, it may be possible to sit somewhere completely different. Nowadays many offices have communal areas so you never know which co-worker you could end up sitting next to, they might even be able to give you new ideas or different way of seeing things.

3. Disconnect

 

Although it may seem impossible, it’s important to unplug and make the most of your free time. You may be saying “free time… what free time?”, but it's important to create free time by forcing yourself to unplug and take a break from your work.

If possible, turn off notifications on your phone when you get home in the evening in order to prevent you from checking your phone every time it lights up and therefore being constantly reminded of work-related issues.

I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but at least try to avoid checking your texts or emails during the hour before you go to bed. It is also scientifically proven that the blue light given off by LED screens prompts the brain's pineal gland to produce melatonin, a chemical which makes us feel awake and therefore prevents us from getting to sleep at night.

We’re all guilty of checking our phones before we go to bed at night and first thing in the morning, but think about it - is it really necessary? Can’t those emails wait until you get to the office? Give your brain time to think about something other than work. It’s often when in the shower, exercising or doing something completely unrelated to our jobs that we come up with solutions, find new ideas or are simply able to put things into perspective. Taking time off can actually help us work more efficiently.

4. Exercise 

 

This ties in with a few of the previous points, the benefits of practicing a sport are pretty obvious. Although you may be feeling sluggish and tired in the evenings, even a 30-minute workout can reduce your stress levels and give you a much-needed endorphin boost. It will also leave you feeling much more relaxed and able to carry out your work more effectively.

If none of these methods help, it may be time to talk to your boss about making a few changes to your workload or organising you work differently. We hope these tips will help make a difference, hang in there until you get some time off!