May 12, 2020

by Michelle Rios | May 12, 2020 | Blue Tiger Tales

Are you Zooming or Zoning? – Zoom is the new way of meeting, and it’s not necessarily helping us become more effective with our time and attention. Our brain has been designed for efficiency—sorting information into patterns of connections that link chemical and physical maps of skills, thoughts and memories together via complex neural networks. New information coming in is compared to current maps to see where links can be created. If within five minutes of getting on a Zoom call you start to feel strangely tired, overwhelmed, or unable to track as well as you remember being able to in person, you’re not crazy. It’s because there are several rectangular boxes of millions of data points coming at your brain all at the same time. All these familiar faces have backgrounds you may have never seen before, or children, or pets, or Wayne who starts typing and his computer bounces because his desk is his bed. Your brain is trying to make sense of it all and put it in context with a map that is already on file – “So Alice’s face is in Maui with a dog barking in the background. Wait, what are we talking about again?” And then you hear a familiar voice, you scan like crazy but can’t find the face that goes with it, and your brain forgets what you were going to say because you can’t actually look at the person while you’re talking to them. Feel familiar? Layer on the new video meeting system you’re trying to learn while you share your screen for your teammates to teach them the new invoicing process you’re using now that everyone is remote. Wow, you can see why your brain goes into overload and just wants relief. So, we look away, we look at something familiar and static like email, or we stare at the screen while looking at lots of other things that aren’t as stressful to our mind’s eye – but never fear, our conscious mind is still picking up all those tiny data points and trying to process them, you’ve just moved into your unconscious mind for a mini-nap.

Here are some things to do to keep you from Zoning out too far while Zooming:

  1. Set an intention before the meeting that you are going to listen more than look – this may mean taking physical notes, acknowledging and restating important messages you hear people saying, or focusing on hearing from everyone—if there’s a voice you haven’t heard from yet, ask them a question to get their thoughts.
  2. Ask your team if they are willing to experiment with every other meeting being a good ole’ fashion conference call. Calls can be as effective as Zoom, and it’s interesting to discover what’s easier, what’s more difficult and see what different team dynamics occur based on video, or voice-only communication.
  3. Be willing to be vulnerable – if you’ve lost track of what’s happening in the meeting, apologize and let your coworkers know that you’d like to revisit a portion of the conversation. It’s very likely that others will be breathing a sigh of relief because they were lost or confused too.

Name One Small Win of the Day – We may be working differently at the moment, but it turns out that the way to fuel motivation in our inner work world is the same as it always was – making progress in meaningful work. If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again without making progress toward a meaningful goal it can zap the enthusiasm right out of you. Being able to name just one small win a day can help kick that serotonin flow into gear and may even garner some newfound creativity. This is called the Progress Principle. Now more than ever, it is essential for managers and employees to consider what creates those feelings of progress so we can all go to bed at night feeling a little inspired. Naming one small win each day (much like a gratefulness journal) can help us keep things in perspective. Then, when we look back over a month, we’ll recognize the achievements we’ve made. Resilience is built through practices of daily living that give us a greater perspective than reacting to our up and down feelings from moment to moment. In these times, some of our most meaningful work might even include something as simple as staying home: Inspirational Detroit Ad.

Joy and Hope = Collaboration– Thirty-four student musicians of the EL Education community from eleven schools in seven states crafted a joy-filled video to celebrate Better World Day. I try to watch or read something uplifting each day, so I’m calling it my one small win of the day to have watched this….twice ☺

Please let us know if you find any of these to be helpful and share how you put them into practice. Also, if you have a tip to offer, let us know and we will include it in a future email or video.

We wish for you to find your special ways to thrive through this unprecedented time.

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May You Be Well –

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