Life Hacks during WFH | How do you avoid burnout?

Hi Monkeys!

There has been a lot of posts about how the WFH situation has impacted juniors and what banks can do to improve their lifestyle.

However, instead of focusing on what banks can do (which even if happens will take long time to be implemented) why do not look at what Analysts/Associates can do to cope with it? 

What are some life hacks that you use to remain sane these days?

Comments (63)

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 4:56am

Cocaine.

"If it is on WSO, it must be true" ~ old Jewish proverb.

  • 14
 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 12, 2021 - 5:33am

I do try to reserve some time for myself.

I do not send the file immediately when finished unless super urgent, but i let it bake off for 10-15 mins that i use as break. This way i can have a second look being fresh and spot some errors and then send the file.

Second thing I do, is don't caring at all about the "active" status. I do everything that needs to be done and in the most efficient way I can, and as if I were in the office I would have gone round for a small walk, sometime I just have a 15-20mins walk and then come back. Again, I don't do this if I know tasks are really urgent with deadlines in the next hour, but try to do it whenever possible.

I'm always reachable via phone anyway and even so, if the VP or the associates call me and I'm out for some markups or things I don't mind telling him "can I call you back in 10 mins?". Just speak out, people don't see you but do understand and the world has not gone mad if they had to wait 10mins on a non-urgent task.

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 12:51pm

SB'd as 100% agree with the not caring about "active" status. In the first few months I made sure to stay online all day at all times (I was paranoid people would think I was slacking off wfh), but after a while just staying in your bedroom all day (where my home office is) really takes a toll on your mental health. Plus I put on some weight through being completely inactive.

Now I always make sure to go for an hour run in the middle of the day (workload/meetings permitting obviously). If something urgent comes up I can always rush back home, and equally if someone calls me I can say I'll be home in 10. Just getting outside and exercising/getting fresh air has really made a big difference.

Also this is reinforced by the fact that if anything everyone is working that much harder compared to pre-Covid. So taking an hour out of your day for your sanity won't matter in the long run.

 
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jan 17, 2021 - 7:34am

Dude just play windows media player video or put something on your spacebar while having your chrome open. Computer doesn't go to sleep and you are still active. If you miss a message you can just say you were busy doing work for other active deals. Ofc this won't work if your vpn shuts down after the idle period.

 
Funniest
Jan 12, 2021 - 12:08pm

"What you think of this deal?"

(sound of toilet flush ...)

Follow me on Instagram: @dickthesellsider

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Most Helpful
  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
Jan 12, 2021 - 9:03am

I got hit by WFH cabin fever as badly as anyone via the combo of never leaving my apartment, and hours and work volume spiking overnight. My realization several months in was that pre-covid, I was very serendipitous and spontaneous in social activities (i.e. waking up on a Sunday morning and deciding to buy Broadway tickets for the matinee). Since that's no longer really possible between the elimination of most activities and the encroachment of work into all waking hours, I had to become more intentional and structured in separating work and life. Sounds robotic, but I fell so easily into the WFH slump that I had to take regimented action to force myself out of it.

1. Take a deep breath. I'm extremely guilty of being "on" all the time. I always strive for inbox zero, and that can include 20-second response times on emails, pulling even longer hours to finish backlog tasks just to get them off of my queue, and dropping non-work priorities halfway through (think cooking, working out) to answer work questions. The best thing you can do for yourself, and admittedly also the hardest thing, is to develop a mindset that most things can wait 10 minutes. I read this on a different thread years ago, but the phrase stuck with me: you need to develop a healthy respect for yourself and your time. I think a common perception of senior managers is that they're sitting by their computer waiting for your email back, waiting for your pitch deck, waiting for your answer. No doubt, there are sporadic tasks that require such urgency, but usually, as the low man on the totem pole, you have 1-3 things that require immediate attention, and your staffer or VP or MD has at least 25. They aren't going to notice 10 vs 20 minutes of turnaround time.

2. Incorporate physical activity into your routine, and stick to it. Morning stretching routine? 10 minute walk each way to pick up lunch? Late-night Peloton sprint? Find something to incorporate habitually. It becomes part of your daily schedule, and it helps clear the mind.

3. Invest in your home. You'd be surprised at how many people are still holding out on spending personal money on their WFH setups and apartments, 10 months into this situation. Yes, it's annoying, but you need to take the view that you aren't going to miss the marginal $1k, $5k, $10k on home improvements. Now that you spend 18 waking hours per day here, you should make it as comfortable and convenient as possible. There are tons of ways to do this:

  • Food and beverages. Buy any (healthy) snacks you like online and keep them stocked. Get a high-end coffee or espresso maker, or a Sodastream with flavorings. Upgrade your glassware and home bar offerings.
  • Fitness. Anything from bands to dumbbells to a Peloton, as long as it encourages you to work out.
  • Desk setup. Do you have a standing desk yet? What about an ergonomic office chair (Herman Miller and the like)? Large monitors and monitor stands? What about your sound situation? This could be a good chance to invest in quality speakers or headphones.
  • Bedroom / sleep. Are you happy with your mattress? Should you install blackout curtains? Any interest in something like Eight Sleep?
  • General home ambiance. Hang a couple pieces of art. Install those color-changing smart lights. Set up an Alexa or other to integrate with everything. Buy a more comfortable couch. If you have any musical instruments, buy proper stands for them and keep them on display.
  • Comfort purchases. This can be anything that makes you happy and eliminates a little bit of stress. You probably aren't wearing your watches as often as you used to -- purchase a watch gyroscope to keep them set. Do you have time to go to Chelsea Piers on the occasional weekend? Grab a new driver. Get a bespoke blazer or suit for when the world does open back up.

Again, you're going to be spending a good chunk of money here, but you'll be much happier to be working from home when you can turn around and enjoy your own office perks, so to speak. Moreover, these purchases will last you for years, and they'll pay unexpected dividends. What if you decide to start an ecommerce business in a few years and suddenly find yourself working a few extra hours at nights? You'll be happy you have the standing desk and office chair. And anyway, you'll make the money back pretty quickly.

4. Host friends. This by itself has done a ton for me. Have your close friends over on Friday or Saturday nights! It's not like anyone really wants to do outdoor drinks and dinner in January. The beauty of this is twofold: if you've invested in your living setup, people will want to come over, and if any work fire drills come up, you can handle them without ruining your night. I've enjoyed having people over for cocktails (thanks to that home bar investment I made), for example.

You'll notice that most of these don't relate to the work itself. IMO, there isn't a ton you can do about the actual tasks. What you can do is keep your general mood and affect as positive and healthy as possible. In short, I essentially found myself optimizing along two axes: one, making the job as comfortable as possible, and two, deliberately creating room for my mental and physical health.

 
Jan 13, 2021 - 2:34am

If anyone takes anything away from this is that you HAVE to get an ergo chair. I returned my HM Aeron just before new year after sitting on it for like 3 weeks and I noticed how fucked my back is after sitting on shit chairs for the past 3 weeks. Thank god I have a complete decked out one coming in tomorrow. GET AN ERGO CHAIR 

 
Jan 13, 2021 - 10:02am

These are all great advices, I would push especially on the home gym setup. Also, if like me you're in the UK with this nasty weather, get a jumping rope. If thanks to the weather i am not able to go outside for a walk or run, i do a few min on it in front of my terrace so i can see the outside 

 

I also got new games for the PS.. some studies found that it helps a lot especially to keep you motivated and feeling the competition (don't play FIFA ultimate team though, thats too addictive) 

 
Jan 19, 2021 - 1:54pm

Strongly agree with the comment about not feeling like you need to respond the minute you get an email. 

I'm a VP and often I'll get some spare time between calls etc where I'll fire off a batch of emails on various things I'm working on but rarely do I need something immediately, and when I do, I'll nudge the Associate / Analyst via Teams, or mark the email Important. 

Otherwise, easier for me but find waking up early makes a big difference as I feel early morning is time I have full control over. 

Try to get outside - even if it's 10 minutes to walk around the block. Your eyes need to get off the screen. Speaking of, if you have spare time, try not to be staring at Netflix and etc - same reason, you stare at a screen 15+ hours a day, last thing you need when you're off is more screen time. 

All the best to all.

 
Jan 14, 2021 - 12:50pm

I ,myself, jack off at least twice a day. Once in the morning right after I work out and then once right after lunch.

"...Needless to say, I did not get the offer."
 
Jan 12, 2021 - 12:18pm

Just curious, how many hours are you guys actually working? Like Monday through Friday 8am to midnight and then more hours Saturday? What does it look like? Just want to know what's making this whole WFH difficult  

 
  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Jan 12, 2021 - 12:36pm

MDs no longer have to travel for meetings and can schedule 30% more over zoom. In addition, everyone is home all of the time, giving seniors more time to work since they don't have vacation or family events they'd normally be offline for.

As a junior this means

- emails start coming in at 7am instead of 9am

- MDs don't send comments until 8pm or later because they don't have any time in between meetings (used to get comments or check ins throughout the day as they're traveling between meetings or waiting for a flight) which makes your night that much later

- your weekend that used to be a half day of work is now a full workday because your MD doesn't have to get to that soccer game in the afternoon

- your only interaction with seniors is very direct, often pissed off emails. They are no longer casually circling up the team to talk through something or having lunch with the juniors. The mentorship aspect is gone

- while you may be home to cook meals you are still expected to be responsive at all times and this can mean dropping your half-cooked meal to hop on the phone - in the office, people can see you're eating and you finish that before starting their project

- no bullpen camaraderie, you are sitting in your home all day with 0 human interaction

Etc

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 12:43pm

Pizz

Just curious, how many hours are you guys actually working? Like Monday through Friday 8am to midnight and then more hours Saturday? What does it look like? Just want to know what's making this whole WFH difficult  

Others have covered it off in much better detail in other threads, but essentially a combination of:

- Significantly increased workload - MDs can pitch via Zoom instead of travelling/flying to meetings, which means the number of potential deals has increased dramatically. Also given the uncertain economic times, MDs are probably particularly keen to pitch for any and all business they can right now (and it's not them who will be spending their weekends working on pitchbooks).

- Monotonous experience - yes wfh means you don't have to commute, but then a lot of juniors were already living in the city/close to the office anyway. Spending 80-90 hours grinding away on your own wears on you.

- Less division between work and free time - I know analysts rarely get free time in the week anyway, but sounds like it has got ridiculous now. I'm an associate in PE and it's bad for me - because "no-one has anything to do anyway" in the evenings/weekends, senior people will get hold of you any time and expect an instant response. Also at least in the office you could get away from it by going for a walk around the block or going for food with other analysts - people would see you weren't at your desk and wait until you got back if it wasn't urgent. That's all gone now - I've had numerous times when I've had to take calls late at night when I'm out shopping for food etc.

- Just work hard no play hard - back when I was an analyst, the bright spots were the camaraderie with other analysts, going for drinks at various bars in the city etc. Plus getting a decent salary meant you could go to nice restaurants/do cool stuff for the first time. Also there was exposure to VPs/MDs etc which allowed you to get mentorship etc. All of that is now gone - so many people on here have complained (understandably so) that the work feels very transactional now, and they're simply a remote resource grinding for a pay cheque and nothing more.

For me the last one is probably the worst. And I'm a 30 year old (single) associate - so at least I've had all the good times/camaraderie/nights out during my analyst years. I can't imagine how bad it must be for fresh analysts joining now. What probably makes it worse is that this view isn't shared by senior people - and I can understand that, as they're settled down with families and live in big houses in the suburbs with long commutes, so wfh is ideal for them. But a lot of MDs seem completely oblivious and seem to think wfh is amazing as it makes everyone much more efficient (e.g. via Zoom meetings) and you can spend time with your kids. Most junior analysts aren't in that position however.

 

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 12, 2021 - 12:40pm

I work at a MM. i'm working M-Thurs 9am-~2am consistently. Friday I work until 9-10pm. And Sunday usually work from 11am-1am.

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 12, 2021 - 1:55pm

1st year at BB in London here, actually started tracking the hours:

  • Weekly average 87.1
  • Weekly median 85.5
  • Min 70.5
  • Max 115

On hourly basis, I am still paid marginally better than at McDonalds, which is the last thing that keeps me going at this point.

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 12, 2021 - 2:31pm

Interesting I keep track too. First year NY BB excluding training and holiday weeks 

Average (excld holiday weeks): 84

median (same): 88

Max: 110

min: 67

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 2:34pm

Early on in the quarantine my best friend suggested I get a dog and that has been a game changer for me. So I went to one of the local rescues and found me a deer head chihuahua, which is a perfect dog because he will always look like a puppy, even as an adult. If you're looking for a smart dog that's about 15 pounds but will always look like a cute puppy, I highly recommend deer head chihuahuas.

It's nice to have the company, he makes me laugh in between meetings (which blows off stress) and he's been a nice overall addition to my home life. Plus he gives me a good excuse for a 20 min walk around the block 3/day and I promise you that NO ONE will miss you if you log off for that. 

 
Jan 13, 2021 - 12:10am

This is not a good idea in the context of IB and PE...especially when you're talking about solving a likely temporary issue (WFH, since its very unlikely WFH is permanent in these jobs) with a very, very long term commitment. Don't forget that many IB analysts end up in PE (which the lifestyle is not much better, if not same or worse) and/or MBA - these are both significant changes in an analysts future and each require a lot of commitment themselves.

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 2:55pm

Moved 2 hours west - the emails start coming in around 5 AM but sleeping earlier and waking up earlier has me feeling great. 

Not super reasonable long term though, could AirBNB and do short term rentals I guess

 
  • Works at JP Morgan Securities
Jan 12, 2021 - 4:17pm

My biggest issue I have is when I am trying to run errands mid day like getting groceries. I'd be off for like an hour, but I make up for by getting my stuff done at night. Either that or I'd only go once I know I am relatively free. What do you all do when your out and your boss calls you?

 
Jan 13, 2021 - 2:00pm

I started doing this but would just take one 25-minute nap around 3pm. It was a nice way to settle the mind, actually catch up on a little sleep, and left me feeling really energized for the 3:30-7pm slump. I'd highly recommend. 

 
  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Gen
Jan 13, 2021 - 2:39pm

retweet on the nap game boys it is a gamechanger. I set an alarm for 24 mins, so give or take 5 mins to fall asleep, and a quick 20 of sleep and I'm refreshed for the 3pm-7pm slog. If you're nervous about your messenger showing away, open up a word doc and lay something heavy on the period key. 

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 13, 2021 - 5:47am

1. Walk. By being WFH, you are easily losing 20mn of wak per day. Make sure to keep having a well outside to step out of your flat. 
 

2. Exercise several times per week. Whatever you want to do, 2 short yoga sessions Or HIT training, you need to move your body. 
 

3. Have a hobby. Sounds weird to say, but you gotta do something else than work. For example, learning a foreign language

 

4.  As mentioned, have some friends over (UK support bubbles)

 

5. Disconnect from times to times. You are allowed to shower or eat for 10mn without replying to your emails 

 

 
Jan 13, 2021 - 11:01am

I tried to keep a streak of going to a gym 6 times a week (could just be 30 minutes on elliptical) and meditate for 20-30 minutes everyday. In IB so sometimes struggle, but the streak has kept me going. Had a apartment gym so that helps a lot (can just pop down to basement in between rounds of comments).

Been 10 months and feeling great.

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 14, 2021 - 1:16pm

I have written a short python script that keeps my mouse moving. Meanwhile as I go about my day as usual, I keep my phone on me at all times so can see when I receive a message. Normally have time to myself until 11ish when things generally start to get busy.

 
Jan 14, 2021 - 2:26pm
  1. Create a work-desk space environment
  2. Routine and time
  3. Keep personal and professional time separate
  4. Communication with your teams is KEY
  5. Set rules with the people you're living with (no interruptions during calls) 
  6. Plan your day/week ahead
  7. Take breaks and look after yourself
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