Skillshare Audio: How to Maintain Work-Life Balance While Working Remote | Emma Gannon | Skillshare

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Skillshare Audio: How to Maintain Work-Life Balance While Working Remote

teacher avatar Emma Gannon, Author, Broadcaster, Podcast Host

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Tackling Burnout


    • 3.

      Creating Psychological Boundaries


    • 4.

      Structuring a Healthy Virtual Setting


    • 5.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

What happens when home becomes your workplace? Join author and broadcaster Emma Gannon for actionable advice on how to create a work-life balance that works for you, no matter where you are.

Many of us enjoy the advantages of working from home, but it’s easy to let go of work-life boundaries and find ourselves blending our work life and personal life more than we’d like. In this audio class, Emma tackles the challenges that can come along with working remotely, providing tips, tricks, and clear frameworks for optimizing your work environment and setting yourself up for long-term success.

Together with Emma, you will learn how to:

  • Understand the signs of burnout so you can tackle it before it appears
  • Create psychological boundaries around your mental wellbeing and space
  • Communicate effectively and respectfully with your team 

From creating a “fake” commute to checking in with yourself throughout the day, after taking this class you’ll have the tools to bring your best self to work every day, no matter where you are.


This class is designed to welcome students of all levels. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Emma Gannon

Author, Broadcaster, Podcast Host


Emma Gannon is a Sunday Times bestselling author. Her career guide The Multi-Hyphen Method was a business bestseller and her debut novel OLIVE was nominated for the Dublin Literary Award in 2022.

She is also a trained coach, host of the no. 1 creative careers podcast in the UK, (Ctrl Alt Delete) and speaks on the themes of wellbeing, creativity, digital culture and living life on your own terms.

She is a trained coach and experienced speaker and has spoken at TEDx, the Oxford Union, Founders Forum, Instagram, Amazon and Google. She has also appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4 (Woman's Hour, MoneyBox and Word Of Mouth), BBC Radio 2 (Simon Mayo) and BBC Radio 1 (Life Hacks). She is a trusted panel host and has interviewed everyone from... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: I'm Emma Gannon, an author and broadcaster. Today's class is all about how to keep your mental well-being in check while working remote. My podcast, Ctrl Alt Delete, is all about creative careers and unconventional career paths, and the topic of mental health and burnout comes up a lot in those conversations about modern work. In this class, I'll be talking about tackling burnout, creating psychological boundaries, and remote work etiquette. This class is for anyone who's currently working from home or working remotely and is also struggling with how to maintain their well-being while working and living and doing everything else in the same space. Before, we would leave our front door and go to work. We would have a physical boundary automatically there. Now that we don't have that, this is how to create boundaries in our minds, how to really distinguish between our home self and our work self and how to take care of ourselves better. But it's safe to say that when we look after ourselves and we look after our well-being and really focus on it and take it seriously and take more breaks throughout the day, we're fundamentally happier and we feel like we can take on more, which actually results in more productivity. Working constantly and then burning out is one of the most unproductive ways of working, because ultimately, what burnout means is sometimes in the most extreme cases, being signed off from work for months at a time. That's extremely unproductive for our work, life, and overall well-being. We should take the daily steps to check in with ourselves and really make sure we're doing okay. The one major takeaway I would love students to take note of in this class is how to really look after yourself during the working day and making just tiny steps, tiny bits of more time for yourself to really make sure that you're checking in with how you genuinely feel and not just distracting yourself by constantly working. This class is all about not ignoring any warning signs that you need to change things up. I'm really excited about bringing you this class. It's a really important topic. It's very close to my heart because I've had to learn to adjust how I worked during this time and make peace with maybe doing less, and I think it's relevant for pretty much all of us, whatever we're dealing with at the moment. We would love to hear from you so please do share your experiences in the Project Gallery and ask us any questions in the Discussion section below. 2. Tackling Burnout : In this lesson, I'm going to be talking about tackling burnout. What it is and why it's happening more often when we're working from home and when it tends to feel like and how we can spot some of our own warning signs. Let's discuss how to tackle burnout. In an office, we might be more aware of ourselves and our surroundings and even the time of the day, but when we're working from home, we can have a tendency to overwork and be lost our own heads, and not look up for hours. Because most of the time it's just us working remotely, away from our colleagues and away from the outside world, away from our office and we're not having that interaction that we're used to. People say the open-plan working is quite distracting and there's definitely some truth in that. But at least then we had something to break up our day even for me going to a cafe and then coming home. It means you're getting up and maybe having a chat with someone or making a cup of tea. When we're working in an office or somewhere away from home, we're more likely to take in our surroundings, have more variety to the day, see different things, walk different places, have a commute, or just look around more often and take in a bit more of the world. It's important to be aware of how we're spending our days at home and how we can be productive while also nourishing our minds and our bodies too. As a writer who sits and works from the same desk every day, I'm definitely tempted to ignore the signals and just push through without taking stoke. When we're working from home, sometimes we're just going from our bedroom to the kitchen or to the desk and it can be quite samey every day. Sometimes we jump straight into work, whether that's on our beds, just opening our laptop, or being on our phone that's constantly buzzing, and we're suddenly at work when we haven't really guyed ourselves up for work, who got ourselves in that frame of mind. It's really important for us to have these boundaries around working from home and I'm going to talk more about that in this next section about creating these boundaries. It's really important to notice our moods and our patterns, to notice our surroundings, to go outside, to look out of the window, and factoring time for ourselves and make sure that we're not just constantly working. It's also a great idea to make your mornings count and start the day off well, even if you could just spare 15 minutes in the morning to listen to your favorite song, or lie down on a yoga mat, or make yourself a coffee and sit with it before jumping straight into work. One read good tactic that I love is from Julia Cameron, which is asking yourself, HALT, H-A-L-T. Am I hungry? Am I angry? Am I lonely? Or am I thirsty? If you have one of these that you can take off, then make sure you rectify it. If you're lonely, give someone a call, if you're hungry, go and make yourself some proper nourishing food. It's really important to hone these things, these smaller bumps in the road as you go along. Just feeling a little bit tired or a little bit hungry can actually lead to feeling more overwhelmed, more tired, and not able to do your work properly, and these smaller things can ladder up. Just noticing that you need a glass of water or noticing that you need to go and have a little stretch or even a lie-down, because if we don't spot these early signs, they can lead to burnout. Burnout is what happens when we're not listening to ourselves and that little small clues along the way, and we just carry on working through it. Ignoring what we truly need, which might be food, down-time, a break, or a friend. My experience of burnout was a classic type of burnout that creeps up but you don't notice it and then it all comes crashing down quite suddenly and abruptly because I thought and assumed I could robotically push through when I was feeling low on fuel and it's quite easy to ignore these early burnout signs, and I know what they are now and I can spot them. If I'm feeling groggy or I'm feeling slightly hungry or tired or a bit down, I used to just push through into the evenings and carry on working and now I know absolutely not to do that. At the time, I would just think I was a bit under the weather or tired or in a bad mood, but these things can really build up over time. One of the major signs of burnout for me, is when I get really apathetic towards most things. When you feel really apathetic towards things that would normally excite you, suddenly you have little or no interest in the things you normally really like. An exciting meeting might crop up that you want celebrate it or called your friend about when you start feeling no real emotion or feeling a bit mad about it, this is a really good clue to discover that you might be on the road to burnout. In extreme burnout situations, that will mean you can't physically go to work and you need time off because you feel really unable to do any mental or physical work. A lot of people have spoken to about burnout, have told me stories of how that body physically would not work anymore because they were given so many signs, the small headaches or the stiff shoulder or the inability to concentrate, or the just need for extra sleep and suddenly it can get really extreme. When someone is literally saying to you, you have to stop, you have to have a break now, which is your body not letting you work because it's forcing you into having a break. We should never get to this point where our bodies are forcing us to rest, we should rest before it gets to this point. I heard of a story from a friend once where it got really extreme and she literally was just hovering her hands above her laptop, unable to type. This is an example of how it's very, truly important that we don't overwork ourselves and we don't just ignore these signals when our minds and our bodies are literally telling us to go for a walk around the park. If you treat these things as a little dinging alarm bell that rings just to show you and warn you to slow down, you can make sure you give yourself proper time and it can really stave off these burnout signs. It doesn't have to be a three-week holiday, these are small little things throughout the day to let your body know that you're relaxing in-between the work. Burnout can lead to you lowering your standards at work, it can lead to you withdrawing effort or relaxing your own rules, it can lead to turning up late or missing deadlines, or just expressing more cynicism. Burnout is quite clever in disguising itself, and these are the things I've really noticed about myself. If I'm being snappy or being blunt with people, or I'm canceling a meeting that would have been really exciting in the past, this is when I know I'm heading towards burnout. One thing that works really well for me and something that I do every single day now is having three mind meals. This is a tactic I learned from the brilliant psychotherapist, Anna Mathur whose books I really recommend and I really trust her advice. She says that, "Just as we feed ourselves three times a day, we should check in with ourselves three times a day and check in with our minds and do something nice for ourselves." So we feed our minds three times a day, just for us, just for our mind. It only has to be five or 10 minutes a day, it doesn't have to be a long period of time. For me in the morning, it could be writing in a journal, in the middle of the day is going for a short walk, and in the evening it's reading a book away from a screen. I make sure I have this three mind meals a day and I definitely stick to it. It really genuinely helps stave off any burnout. 3. Creating Psychological Boundaries : In this lesson, I'm going to be talking about creating psychological boundaries and how we can create these boundaries in our minds to create the mental well-being and mental space that we crave during the day. How do we change our mind frame to create the space, even if the physical space around us looks exactly the same? A challenge that we face at the moment is especially if we live in small spaces, we're working and living and socializing from the exact same four walls. We have to get creative when we want to break up our week, so that maybe our Wednesday afternoon feels very different from our Sunday afternoon, even if it's in the same space. We want the space to feel like we can be our home self and our work self. But we have to create little hacks to make sure that we feel like we can be both and we can separate our time. Otherwise, everything can just merge into one quite easily. One tip that I really enjoy doing myself is creating a fake commute. This doesn't necessarily have to be pretending to go to work like the old days with your bag on and leaving the house and shutting the front door, but this could be maybe going outside, getting a coffee and starting your day outside and walking back into your home, sitting down at your desk and starting your day. You could even make up this fake commute in your mind by taking time each morning to write down in a journal every morning so that you feel like your brain is unwinding and you're starting the day just for you and drifting into work mode slowly, giving yourself the time. Another way of creating a fake commute is maybe having a shower at the end of the day, then the shower you're winding down and feeling like you're coming home, coming back to your home self. Just creating these little changes throughout the day and little routines can help you wind down or shut off or change your mental frame during the day. Another example of this is actually a friend of mine who changes his glasses. He wears different glasses at work, and different glasses on the weekend, which might sound a little odd, but I think it really works for him because he's able to have his work self in his big bold glasses and he's got his different glasses for when he's not at work. It's almost like the way that some people would put on a suit to go to work, a way to differentiate your home self and your works self. Because this is another thing with remote work, we don't necessarily need to put on work clothes anymore. You can maybe put on something different, but you're not necessarily going out into the world and presenting yourself anymore in the same way. A way that we can do this is through clothes, and for me, I do exactly the same, I put on a different pair of glasses, I put on certain clothes for work, and at the weekend I wear different more relaxing things and feel like my work and my life is slightly separated in that subtle way. It can be so tempting to just wear the same thing or even work from your pajamas, and I do like doing that sometimes, but I really recommend having these little ways that you can almost hack your mind to know that you're not just working and living in one big merge. This leads me on to the third tip which is breaking up the day more. This is something that has been a revelation to me recently and just making sure that I'm having lots of little breaks. It's not just about having one lunch break, it's about going on walks in the middle of the day, or going on a short walk again in the afternoon, listening to your favorite podcast, or going out for a quick jog before it gets dark, or listening to your favorite music, or having a snack away from your desk and really taking your time to sit down and enjoy it. For me as well, another way I break up the day, is I put on a soundtrack that I found on Spotify, which is fake café atmosphere. It really helps me get into my work zone and get into my writing flow because I really enjoy that background noise of a café with the muffling sounds of people talking, music playing, and coffee being poured. It's about finding your own soundtrack, which can be a really good way to get into your work mode and feel like you're somewhere else. It's important that when you go for your walks for an hour or even half an hour or shorter, that you're actually breaking up your day by taking a break. It can be quite tempting to go for a walk and maybe listen to a work related podcasts, or maybe take a work call or tell your boss or colleague that you'll do a call with them while you're on your walk. But it's really important to actually have a break from your screen, away from work, you'll find that your brain will actually relax and probably come up with ideas or problem-solve more so than sitting at your desk and you're going to really refresh yourself and rejuvenate yourself. When you come back to your desk, you'll be more productive. If you're someone that finds it hard doing nothing, then maybe call a friend or listen to something non-work related, some relaxing music. But just make sure that you feel like this time is being spent on yourself away from work. Guilt free, we all deserve to have more breaks during the day. 4. Structuring a Healthy Virtual Setting: In this lesson, I'm going to be talking about remote work etiquette. Why it's important, what the common challenges are between employees and bosses, and how we can communicate better. I'm going to tell you some tips and tricks now. But before I do, I wanted to say that I'm a solo worker running a business without a traditional boss. So some of my tips here might be easier to achieve if you're self-employed, freelance or your own boss, or maybe if you run a small team because you can design your own deadlines and your own schedule. If you have a traditional setup, it might be more difficult to execute these immediately. It might mean that you'll have to check in with your team or your boss to check that these changes could be made. But still setting your own boundaries and communicating efficiently is still a part of everyone's working life. Boundaries are really important and it makes such a difference once you set them and get to know your own boundaries, especially when working remotely because people can sometimes assume that you are always on and always available when we know that is not the case. We all have lives and schedules and we all have projects that we need to be working on and we might not constantly be on our emails. Some of these tips and tricks might affect you differently. For example, taking a whole hour for your lunch break to go on a walk without tuning into work might feel like something that no one ever does and something that might be hard for you to go and do initially. But it's also important to start somewhere and test things out and start small and suggest these new ways of working. Maybe when they start working for you, you can pass on the benefit to everyone. This is about being more productive. This isn't about doing less, it's about actually achieving more but looking after yourself as well. You can start a whole new way of working and sort of tweak the company culture around this constant remote working. My first tip is about not tapping into that surveillance culture that can be quite tempting for people. If you're a manager or a boss, then try not to constantly check in with someone and see if they're available. We should be encouraging people to use the away button or the busy button on Slack, for example, and be able to communicate where we are and trust each other more. We can make sure that we know where people are and what they're doing without constantly chasing and micro-managing them all the time. This can make people feel really stressed and watched. When working remotely, we want to feel like we can get more done and achieve our deadlines. Chasing people up for their work constantly can actually be more damaging than in an office when working remotely ,because you aren't able to communicate in person and say we're communicating via screens without body language and we're not able to really see what people are doing in real time. In order to combat this, it's really important to set check-ins. Whether that's every day or every week or even once a month, it can reduce the amount of chasing e-mails because you always know that you have that slot to check in with that person and everyone knows that that meeting or that check-in is for that exact reason. The other tip around communication and respecting each other's boundaries is when you're working remotely, sometimes you can be tempted to work all hours of the day or different hours that might suit you. Some people I know have been getting up earlier because they might be home-schooling their children or some people might be early birds and just want to get up at 6:00 AM to crack on with the day and finish a bit earlier. Other people like me might be a night owl, which means you stay up later and you check off a bit of your to-do list maybe in front of the TV in the evening. That is definitely something I do. I don't necessarily recommend it, but sometimes it does work for us. We're all different. We've all got different body clocks and the way that we work at the moment is making everyone work in this one nine to five arbitrary time of the day. Sometimes in the morning or evening is much better for us. This is the good side of working from home. We can work around the clock when we want to. But this doesn't mean sending e-mails to your colleagues late at night. You can schedule e-mails for your employees or team members, so that you can write them in advance or whenever you want to, but they don't receive them until the working day officially starts for them the next day. So you avoid stressing people out by sending them late night e-mails that they might think are urgent. So at the end of the day, it's all about communication. That's the really important part of remote working. Sometimes even over-communicating is the best way. So you can tell people where you are, give them a heads up, where you'll be during the week and when you'll be available, and just make sure you're really clear what your boundaries are so that no wires are crossed. If you're a manager, I think it's important to set a good example so that people can see this in action. 5. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for listening to this class on how to keep your mental well-being in check while working remote. We would love to hear from you so please do share your own working from home experiences and ask any questions around this topic in the discussion board below. Thank you so much again for listening in and I hope to see you again soon.