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I'm feeling a lot better about motivation lately.
Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about the trouble I've been having with motivation? Well my wonderful colleague Sara Moniuszko wrote a story about it – just to help me.
I kid, but Sara's story is full of wonderful tips for combating this listless feeling I've been having. Here are a few ideas I found helpful:
Set a timer: Timed work methods are a way to break up your tasks into manageable chucks. The Pomodoro technique, for example, recommends you work for 25 minutes then take a five minute break. After repeating this four times, take a longer break for 15-30 minutes. You can also try adjusting the time as it works best for you, such as an hour sprint before taking a break.
Focus on things you enjoy: "Because post-traumatic symptoms are often exacerbated by a feeling of lack of control, engaging in activities that help us feel like we have some control can be helpful," Melissa L. Whitson, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the University of New Haven suggests.
Forgive yourself: Knowing that it's normal to not feel normal right now is key, especially since stressing out about not feeling like you're doing enough can make things worse. "The tendency to beat yourself up, or to be overly harsh on yourself, is gonna make things worse," psychotherapist Amy Morin says. "We know that self compassion is the key to changing your behavior, but most of us are so much harder on ourselves than we are on anybody else." There are more tips in Sara's story here.
Without realizing it, I have been using a few of these techniques in the past few weeks. I don't set an actual timer, but I have tried to focus on writing in sprints, keeping my focus on the page instead of emails and other items on my to-do list. I recently picked up one of my favorite, easy-reading books for a re-read, knowing that I would both enjoy it, and finish it fast. It gave me both entertainment and a sense of accomplishment.
The one thing I have actively been working on in therapy and beyond is forgiving myself. My inner critic is loud and combative. But I'm trying, and I know how much it might help.
How to combat Zoom fatigue
As a writer, I don't have nearly as many video meetings as many people working from home. But this week, I spent a lot of time on Zoom. And considering how much it wears me out, I can't imagine how those of you who are on video chats all day do it.
Zoom fatigue is real, and so many of us are experiencing it right now. There's even data on it. A study from Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab highlights the causes for your videoconferencing exhaustion, and how to fix it. The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Technology, Mind and Behavior.
Jeremy Bailenson, the author of the study and founding director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, said there are four issues that lead to "Zoom fatigue":
Too much close-up eye contact. Our faces are much larger on the screen than they would appear in a real-life encounter, says Bailenson. Plus, our view of others is set up to simulate maintaining eye contact. "On Zoom, behavior ordinarily reserved for close relationships – such as long stretches of direct eye gaze and faces seen close up has suddenly become the way we interact with casual acquaintances, coworkers, and even strangers," Bailenson writes.
Viewing yourself during the call. Yes, having to see your perspective during a video call is "stressful," says Bailenson, comparing it to having someone follow you around the office holding a mirror near you.
Lack of mobility. Because Zoom calls use a fixed view, users can't really move around during a meeting or phone call, whereas phone or in-person conversations sometimes allow participants to walk around.
Extra effort for non-verbal cues. We're still communicating on Zoom without using words, but "users need to work harder to send and receive signals," Bailenson says.
So how do we combat the fatigue? Turning off the video of yourself is a good start (I find this particularly helpful during virtual therapy). You can also reduce the size of the actual Zoom window so that everyone's faces appear smaller. If you're on a longer meeting, you should consider turning off your video entirely for periods. And if your coworkers or bosses are amenable, a phone call instead of a video call might be a welcome break.
You can read more about the study here. I wish you all some Zoom breaks this weekend.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How to regain motivation, fight Zoom fatigue