Working from home is becoming more and more common in this day and age. Indeed, we live in the gig economy which is best characterized by a large number of remote workers, freelancers and entrepreneurs. Although working from home sounds laid-back, many people who work from home are stressed out by these factors:

  • How to deal with stressors

Some friends and family may assume you don’t have to work at all; consequently, you might be disturbed frequently while working at home. In this case, you would be well-advised to set clear boundaries, e.g. you are only available to talk to your family and friends after 4pm unless there is an emergency. In this way, you will be able to reduce the conflict and frustration at home.

You might sit at your desk for too long. When you work at home, it’s really tempting to never really leave your computer. However, Dr Christiane Northrup once said, “Sitting is the new smoking.” Therefore, you probably should take breaks regularly. For instance, I take housework breaks when I work from home, thereby avoiding sitting for too long (and I also get more things done in the house).

It’s harder to meet like-minded colleagues. Social isolation is real for many home-based workers because they find it more difficult to meet work friends. Though remote workers generally have some online contacts, it’s still necessary to have face-to-face interaction with work friends. My strategy is joining a networking group such as Business Chicks (you don’t have to be a woman in order to join this networking organization) and I’ve met a lot of like-minded people that I can catch up with every week.

  • Unexpected advice for work and life:

Work isn’t easy. In fact, work is much more than getting things done and getting paid. After doing research in career strategies for more than ten years, I’ve summarized the following top five mistakes people make at work that prevent them from succeeding.

Mistake #1: You look more intelligent than your boss. In Robert Greene’s best-selling book 48 Laws of Power, the first law is “never outshine the master”. Obviously, Robert Greene learned this law the hard way because he was fired by his ex-boss when he was young. Indeed, outshining your boss is the worst mistake of all because every boss has an ego and envy is only human nature. Therefore, if you offer your boss/supervisor suggestions when he/she didn’t even ask for it, you will probably be punished rather than appreciated (and you think you are just trying to help).

Mistake #2: You discuss Co-worker A’s work issues with Co-worker B. Without people skills, your technical skills won’t work. The most important people skill is knowing when to say what. When you talk about Co-worker A’s work problems with Co-worker B because you “think” Co-worker B is your friend, you are probably in danger, as you don’t really know the real relationship between Co-worker A and Co-worker B. These two people probably catch up every weekend without letting you know. I used to work for a company for three years and I didn’t know two people in the office were a married couple during the first two years! Fortunately, I was quite careful and didn’t make this mistake.

Mistake #3: You don’t know who your real customers are. Let’s say you work for a company that offers training programs. Theoretically, students who join these training programs are your customers because they are buying courses from the company. But realistically, students are the company’s customers, not your customers – in fact, those who directly/indirectly affect your pay are your real customers. In other words, if your supervisor directly influences how much money you make, then your supervisor is your real customer – you have to make this person happy in order to make more money. Also, some of your co-workers may indirectly affect your pay, so these people are your real customers, too – remember to make them happy.

Mistake #4: You don’t know how to effectively manage your email. In this day and age, a lot of people’s real job is to manage their overwhelming email Inbox all day every day. If you have 400 unread emails in your Inbox at work, you must correct this mistake now. When you receive an email, you should either respond to it, delete it or add a star to it so that you can deal with it later. Remember to be decisive and make sure you only deal with one email once only. Also, when someone sends you an email which doesn’t require a reply, please don’t send them a “thank you” email – they won’t enjoy reading one more email when they have 400 unread emails.

Mistake #5: You take things personally. Many sensitive people can be offended easily because they oftentimes take things personally. Yet that’s a big mistake at work because feeling offended takes a lot of energy which can be used to do something more constructive. As a matter of fact, you would be well-advised to know that not everyone is out there to get you; people tend to think about themselves most of the time and rarely judge you. This is not only the best advice for your career, but also the best advice for life!

  • Self-care tip: how to avoid burnout

In this day and age, almost everyone has hundreds of unread emails in their Inbox. Since the competition is increasingly stiff in every industry, people tend to overwork all the time. Fortunately, there are several ways to deal with this issue effectively and efficiently.

Switch off email notifications on your phone and schedule when to check emails. If you receive email notifications on your phone, you are distracted frequently by your phone, so it’s hard to concentrate on what’s truly important to you. Therefore, everyone would be well-advised to switch off email notifications on their phone right now. Just check emails after you’ve finished the main tasks of the day, e.g. after 4pm. In this way, you prioritize your work and respond to other people’s requests later.

Go to bed early so that you get enough sleep. Tom Bilyeu goes to bed at 9pm every night, so he gets up at 3am almost every day. He hasn’t used an alarm clock for at least one decade because he just wants to give his body enough rest, thereby having enough energy to work hard and work smart every single day. If you do the same, you’ll get a head start over others as you can complete your key tasks before everyone else begins to work each day.

Be well-organized and focus on one detail at a time. Having too much to do is overwhelming; therefore, you’d better write down everything that needs to be done in your diary. Now you can focus on one detail at a time because thinking about too many details will only stress you out. Once you’ve completed one task, simply delete it from your diary, and then you can keep going and won’t feel stressed.

“Have a self-care routine, e.g. a holiday plan, a retreat, a mini-retirement…. Do whatever works for you so that you can avoid burnout!”