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How to stop Zoom from dictating your life

Time-based scheduling can be overwhelming and counterproductive when you get stressed because you don’t finish your tasks within the assigned times.

Zoom in operation. Image: © Tim Sandle
Zoom in operation. Image: © Tim Sandle

The video call service Zoom was, in many ways, the key application of 2020 and 2021.This pandemic era tool’s use ranged from how people interacted with one another to education for school-aged children. Increasingly, Zoom (and its alternatives) has become just yet another application on the list of many, used daily to communicate with work colleagues.

Nora Tobin, performance enhancement and executive coach, nutrition specialist and CEO of Nora’s Naturals Coffee, says that we need to put Zoom in context and avoid it dictating our lives too much.

Tobin has put together some tips for Digital Journal readers on how to focus on a virtual world without the structure they might be accustomed to. 

Tobin explains: “When learning in a virtual environment, many people are faced with a sudden lack of structure in their lives. Establishing an effective routine is one of the most effective ways to supercharge your ability to connect and learn, all while managing your own workload without needing to work from sheer willpower.”

The countermeasure is, she explains: “Implementing structure to your day gives a sense of certainty and control amidst turbulent times. It can be mentally taxing to work in constant isolation, and building a routine can take the stress and pressure off while giving a sense of accomplishment. It lets you optimize your energy into important tasks and save time for yourself and family.”

Tobin’s four areas of life-improvement in the video call age are:

Tip #1: Figure Out Your Priorities

Take some time to reflect on your priorities and what you want to accomplish. What’s something you want or need to do today or this week? If it helps organize your train of thought, make a list and layout your plans. First, what do you want to improve in your life? Maybe you want to be more active while doing remote work, or you want to spend more time with your family. Second, what do you need to get done? It could be something small like sending an email or a larger goal like getting an A in a class. Once you figure out your priorities, it is easy to get started and plan your routine accordingly.

Tip #2: Set Small Goals for Big Success

Once you’ve laid out your goals, you might feel a little overwhelmed and not even know where to begin. But remember, nobody writes a novel in one sitting. Instead of looking at the top of the mountain you want to climb, start by putting one foot in front of the other. Break your goals down into smaller, more realistic and manageable chunks that you can accomplish bit by bit. For example, you want to start learning a new language–start by freeing 30 minutes a day in your schedule for using a language app. These small goals eventually stack up, and in a blink of an eye you are many steps closer to your ambitious goal than you originally thought.

Tip #3: Energy is Important

When scheduling your days, try not to give yourself time limits. There are too many folks who delegate rigid time slots for their daily tasks. Of course, this can work with some people, but for many others, this way of time-based scheduling can be overwhelming and counterproductive when you get stressed because you don’t finish your tasks within the assigned times. Instead, try to schedule your routines based on your energy levels. Everyone has different periods of the day when they feel the highest or lowest levels of energy. Figure out when your energy levels fluctuate and try to delegate the more intensive work such as creative writing, problem solving, planning etc. to when your energy is highest. Similarly, leave the less mind consuming work like data entry or organizing your computer to when your energy is lowest.

Tip #4: Change Your State

Sitting in front of screens can suppress our ability to concentrate and overwork the amygdala (part of the brain that senses fear). Break up the time on screen with short breaks throughout the day- even just one minute an hour to step away from the screen and breath. It can also be incredibly beneficial to get out in the sunlight for 10-20 minutes in the morning without sunglasses. The natural light emitted into the eyes will help regulate the circadian rhythm, providing more energy throughout the day.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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