Whilst we endeavour to be productive during a pandemic, the psychological and physiological effects of our increased time online are taking their toll.
The loosening of our usual work/life constraints within an overarching enforced constraint of staying home, is creating a disorienting state of flux for our mental and emotional health.
There is an opportunity here for us to reflect on and redefine what productivity means for each of us. And how we can carry out our responsibilities in a way that is more supportive of our wellbeing and our values.
We need to understand the bigger picture. Being online as our primary form of communication doesn’t mean we should be spending more time online. Bottom line, it’s having hugely detrimental effects on our health.
Every online interaction (be it social or work-related) now feels like a meeting. Talking with groups of people in a video conference creates cognitive dissonance and saps our energy. If people sit too close to the screen they invade our personal boundary space, which can trigger our fight/flight response, raising our anxiety levels and messing with our hormones.
National Geographic – Zoom Fatigue Is Taxing Our Brain
Technology Review – Lockdown Was Supposed To Be An Introverts Paradise
We know being in Zoom meetings all day is not a productive use of our time. What can we do about it?
We need to factor in room for recovery. That means setting boundaries for how available we are.
We need to create regular time away from screens between online engagements, so that our brains are able to reset and process what we’ve been taking in. Without time to synthesize, we deplete our cognitive reserves, making us less creative and productive in the long run.
If you work in a team, it’s also important to define supportive boundaries, individually and collectively. Reflect on what is an effective work rhythm for you (and your team), and how that might fit within the larger requirements of your team’s output. How can you collaborate and communicate better as a team?
Shane Snow – How To Set Productive Work Boundaries With Your Team
Sometimes being productive is about overcoming self-sabotaging internal narratives.
If we can better understand the origins of our patterns of response, and work on expressing our emotional responses more clearly, then we’re better placed to avoid reacting to our current situation from an unhelpful historical context.
When we redefine how we respond, we inadvertently redefine our approach to productivity.
It turns out we process our experiences through dreams. Many of us are getting more time for REM (dream) sleep due to changes in our routines. So it’s natural for our out-of-the ordinary experiences and accompanying anxieties to give rise to intensely lucid dreams.
As Rubin Naiman says, “When waking life is more real, so is dream life.”
If, like me, you’ve been having radical dreams, this article might put your mind to rest.
LA Times – Quarantine Dreams
We have the opportunity to define better ways of working that support different outcomes. Ways of working that tie in with what we value. Outcomes that tie in with what has meaning for us.
If our responses to our situation are supported by knowing ourselves better. If we can give ourselves the space to think about things differently by setting healthier boundaries.
Then we can deliver in a better, more meaningful way, that is productive for us.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Shane Parrish’s Farnam Street, about wrapping our struggles into our values.