The world around us is changing at an unprecedented pace. It makes complete sense that we transform ourselves with this shifting world.
The massive switch to remote work defines one of the most substantial transformations. Personally, for me, the freelancing opportunities brought by remote working cultures are something I cherish daily.
Although many people were already taking the steps to start working remotely before 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic certainly expedited the shift.
I am an expat from Australia working in Europe as a freelance content writer. Or I would rather say I am a traveler living my dream life while going places and working remotely. I have been a full-time educator in Australia for more than 10 years but I was always a passionate writer and I finally took the call to embrace this passion.
During the pandemic, I had a lot of self-realization to do and I developed a greater keenness for content writing. Besides, thanks to the pandemic, the world could explore what technology was so capable of doing. Who would have imagined before the advent of the pandemic that remote working could be possible at such a massive scale?
During the pandemic itself, I started working remotely as a content writer. I was quite fascinated to be honest when I learned the kind of huge demand that exists for content writers. So, I was pretty sure that freelance content writing is what I wish to do for the rest of my life.
Having said that, by the time 2022 arrived, international travel was up and thriving again. With the doors now open for me, I decided to bring my passion for writing and traveling on the same page. I have always felt fascinated by the scintillating and artistic cultures of Europe.
Europe is a sweet tale in itself, a tale I always wanted to read closely and experience first hand. So, I set out for a European expedition with some long term content writing projects in my kitty.
While this adventure has been far better than I ever imagined it to do, I've had to learn on the go how to work remotely, manage my stress, and listen closely to my mental health.
Remote Work & Stress
We know all stress in the work place can strike any time, where you're working from home, working while traveling, or working from the office. Work stress is irrespective of whether it is a traditional work setup or remote work arrangement.
In my case, I can happily say that I work while on the go or while exploring. However, I cannot deny the fact that remote work does get immensely stressful at times. From the outside, it may seem to others that remote work is always fun and exciting but from chatting with other remote employees, I've learned we're not immune to the traditional workplace woes.
Even remote workers are equally vulnerable to overwhelming stress and burnout. I have found myself amid burnout quite often and it does get pretty hard to overcome it at times. Even statistically speaking, burnout rates among remote workers are on the rise. To validate, as per burnout statistics, more than 85 percent of remote workers experience burnout.
These high levels of burnout are something we'll mostly likely only see more and more as we continue to embrace fully remote work. If you don't work hard now to create a healthy structure to your day to day life, these factors causing you stress now are only likely to grow.
Besides, for women, remote work can be far more stressful given any other kind of responsibilities they need to manage with their work. I feel from my experience and insights, I can put forth some effective stress management recommendations for women remote workers.
I am hopeful that I could actually offer some actionable strategies for stress management to fellow remote workers. Without future ado, here are my 5 tried and tested tips to reduce remote work stress.
Tip 1. Identify Your Key Stressors
Different people have different stressors subject to their surroundings and nature of work. My stressors may be completely different from you even if we are both remote content writers. Having said that, stress management begins with the identification of your stressors.
Afterall, treatment can only begin when you diagnose the problem, right?
So, this is where you need to introspect and self-reflect to identify your stressors. What I often do is that almost every month, I sit down and write my stressors on a piece of paper. This gives me a clear idea of what bothers me and then I can think of how I can deal with these stressors.
For instance, for me, prolonged exposure to the screen in itself is a stressor. I start getting irritated when I am working for too long on my laptop or phone. So, on an off day, I decide to unplug with what I call a complete screen time detox. The idea is to narrow down on your stressors and then tackle them.
For remote workers as well, this works and that is what I can say with personal experience.
Tip 2. Track Your Productivity Consistently
I feel while working remotely, we are constantly battling between maintaining productivity and managing distractions. Let me try to explain this with an example.
I often get stressed by the fact that my distractions come in the way of my productivity. To be fair, all of us have the temptation to do other things while working remotely. For sure, that takes a toll on our productivity and adds further stress. Working from a home office instead of the living room, say, is already a big step to improving your performance at home but sometimes that change in environment isn't enough (or isn't always possible if you work and travel like I do).
The real question is, how to get over this issue which in itself is a major stressor? The answer is, you need to track your productivity consistently and effectively. That is what I do to ensure that my productivity is high during the time I am working so that I can be stress free in my idle time.
I use a time tracker to track my productivity. I constantly track the time that it takes for me to complete each writing assignment. In this way, I can find my productivity gaps and work on them. As I do that, it works superbly well to help me manage my levels of stress and attain a positive work life balance.
Fiverr Workspace is a great tool for invoicing and it also has a time tracker so you can manage how much time you work on each of your projects.
I would strongly recommend this as one of the best approaches for working women to manage their stress. You may be caught up with hundreds of family to-dos when you also have a good volume of work to complete. Amid all this confusion and chaos, you may begin to stress a lot and may end up not being very productive both in your work commitments and personal work. Quite relatable, isn’t it?
So, this is where tracking your productivity can be the key. More importantly, when you track your productivity, you also tend to be more focused and dedicated. You are always conscious of your own scrutiny then. Worth a try for sure!
Tip 3. Leverage the Pomodoro Technique
Have you heard of this amazing time and stress management technique yet? Essentially the Pomodoro Technique is a time management approach. However, I personally feel that it can also be an amazing way to keep stress at bay and prevent burnout.
Before I move forward, let me explain to you in simple terms what the Pomodoro Technique is.
As per the Pomodoro Technique, you need to break down your tasks into small bursts of twenty to twenty five minutes separated by small breaks of five minutes each. During your bursts of work, make sure you have a clear objective during that time and you remove all distractions. I like to put my phone in another room on silent.
You can alter the amount of time in your bursts of work but I wouldn't go longer than an hour. I've dabbled with anywhere from 50 minute spurts and 10 minute breaks to shorter 20 minute spurts and 5 minute breaks. Try a few different time frames to find what works best for you.
What the Pomodoro Technique really does is that it does not let work stress pile up. When you are doing an important task that can be mentally exhausting, use the Pomodoro Technique to good effect. The technique also recommends that after four to five Pomodoros, you should take a long break which could be twenty five to thirty minutes.
That small break between small bursts of work is a perfect way to rejuvenate your mind.
Let’s say you are a working mother with kids. So, in that five minute break, you can shower all the love on your kids and spend those little precious moments with them before you get back to work.
In this way, you can get rid of the stress of being caught up between your work commitments and responsibilities as a mother. Makes great sense, right?
Tip 4. Make the Most of the Privilege of Flexibility
We could all have different reasons why we love the idea of working remotely. For me though, the greatest privilege of working remotely is the flexibility it offers.
I embrace that flexibility to the fullest with bragging rights.
What I mean to say here is that you need to look at this flexibility positively. Do not misuse the flexibility because then you will always feel that you are behind your deadlines and struggling to make ends meet.
By using this freedom positively you give yourself enough time to unplug, indulge in some self-care, and give your mental energy time to replenish.
Remote working does offer a great amount of autonomy for sure. However, how effectively and smartly you use that autonomy is what really matters.
Don't let this autonomy turn you into a procrastinator as that will continue to bury you down in stress even more. Be someone who knows when to start, when to unplug, and when to stop in the best interest of your productivity and mental health.
Setting healthy work-life boundaries is key to a healthy and happy time working from anywhere.
Tip 5. Delegate Your Work to Technology
Are you making the most of the wonders of technology at your disposal? I make the most of the convenience technology offers and that helps me a great deal to keep sane.
For instance, I can leverage free proofreading and grammar check tools to manage my work and stress effectively. This is how I delegate my work to technology and you can do the same, as well.
There are various automation and ancillary tools available for your privilege. All you have to do is identify the right tools for your work and delegate parts of your work to those tools. Subsequently, your workload and stress will be lesser than what it usually is.
You're Ready to Reduce Your Remote Work Stress
To conclude, work and stress go hand in hand and the relationship between them is complementary. In fact, sometimes we can go so far to other end of the spectrum and stress about the fact that there is no work to do.
To put things into perspective, working women have far more stressors to take care of, especially when they are working remotely. I am not trying to play the feminist card here but it is what it is and I am just stating the truth. From my personal experience and practices, I have shared some credible stress management strategies for working women that I use on a daily basis. I hope they will be helpful to all the fellow women who work remotely out there.
Hero photo by George Milton.