Working Remotely: Defeat the Fatigue Demon during COVID-19
Geri Markel, PhD
December 7th, 2020
In Defeating the 8 Demons of Distraction, I describe the Fatigue Demon as a major, but commonly unrecognized, work/life distractor. “The Fatigue Demon saps the energy needed to focus and maintain concentration. Though we try to deny it, exhaustion leaves us spinning our wheels, committing errors or even causing accidents.” (pg. 92)
Having a tired mind and body contributes to low productivity and feelings of satisfaction. During these past months of COVID-19, too many top-flight professionals have experienced performance slippages. When fatigue interferes with attention, there is a greater probability of:
- Increased errors and failure to notice important details.
- Increased irritability and impatience.
- Feelings of stress and being overwhelmed.
- Decreased satisfaction with daily life.
With millions of people working at home during the pandemic, the costs of inadequate or insufficient sleep become more extreme. As we move into the holiday season, the likelihood increases that fatigue will interfere with performance and holiday spirit.
Also, many are experiencing coronavirus burnout or pandemic fatigue (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/how-to-deal-with-coronavirus-burnout-and-pandemic-fatigue). Haven’t you heard comments such as:
- “I’m sick of being home.”
- “I thought things would be better by now, but it may get worse.”
- “Even though I’m working at home, I feel like I’m not getting anything done.
- “I’m feeling more and more lethargic.”
It isn’t any wonder that fatigue is attacking us on all fronts. We’ve experienced multiple, significant changes in our lives in a short time. There are financial and health challenges, new ways of working, schooling, parenting, disruption of exercise routines, and lack of social interactions with colleagues, friends, and family. No wonder that you’re tired and stressed.
It’s time to deal with the Fatigue Demon while working remotely or coping with the coronavirus’s challenges. Here are some tips:
- Understand how stress hampers your sleep
- Identify when and how fatigue is interfering with your work/life productivity
- Monitor the quality and quantity of your sleep
- Establish sleep routines — For example, set a reasonable and consistent bed time, stop using digital devices at least an hour before, and schedule time to relax before you go to sleep.
- Journal — Get the worries out of your mind and on to paper.
- Eliminate caffeine-laden drinks and foods after late afternoon
- Limit or don’t drink alcohol in the evening
- Ensure a comfy pillow and comforter and ensure cool temperatures and ample air circulation
- Assume you need 7 hours of restful sleep
- Ensure regular exercise during the day — Even three, 10-minute, stretch/movement breaks are helpful.