I was recently in an informal conversation organized by my good friend Rebecca Hogue, discussing how we are managing our wellbeing and we thought we should crowdsource more publicly beyond what we shared together in that unrecorded session.
So, obviously, one of the most important thing to maintain wellbeing is to actually get offline a bit!!! But for highly social extroverts like myself and my kid, you need to also socialize w folks, and now that’s mainly going to be online… and you also honestly need to figure out ways to make work stuff work for you when you can… because a good online work meeting can help with wellbeing too. It makes all the difference.
So here are my tips for managing wellbeing when you’ve gotta be online
- Change devices sometimes. Sitting in front of a laptop all day in one seat is gonna give you problems with your neck, back, hip, everything. If you can occasionally meet using Zoom or such on your phone and walk around while doing it, it will make a big difference. You may occasionally get interrupted by a phone call (Google meet is better than Zoom in how it deals with that) but you can probably manage.
- Change location sometimes. I just got sick of sitting on my laptop in the same spot all day so as to not bother my family. So when it is possible, I change seats in that same room or move rooms when it is OK. It really does help
- Start meetings by asking people how they are doing/feeling. I learned this from Karen Costa. I have not stopped doing it since then and it makes ALL the difference. If they are many ppl, they can type in the chat. But acknowledging this is a time when how everyone feels changes often and is a big deal is important. Do it. It is the one thing I would insist you do consistently.
- Do smaller meetings when possible. Smaller as in fewer ppl, or smaller as in 30 or 50 mins rather than 1 hour.
- If you cannot have fewer ppl, do breakout rooms when possible. It helps a lot. Let people work in smaller more intimate groups, they will be more productive,and can report back on Google docs or slides or present back in main room. If you wanna give people choice over which room to go to, on Zoom they can rename themselves so first few letters tell u which topic they wanna focus on or such. Or use something like unhangouts which allows people to move themselves (Zoom only allows co-hosts to do that… could be OK for department meetings but not larger groups).
- If you cannot have shorter meetings, take breaks every 60-90 mins. It is much easier to make sure you take short frequent breaks during your work day than to take larger blocks of time off.
- Remind people to move. Sitting stiffly in front of a device is awful. Moving, swaying, stretching all of that helps. Even playing w your face and facial expressions. I once came back from a break and the ice breaker coming back involved doing some movement then forcing yourself to laugh 5 times. It was actually GREAT and became contagious and kept some residual laughter going!
- Switch between gallery and presenter view. Sometimes looking at many moving faces can be exhausting in and of itself!!
- Turn off camera when you become exhausted or stressed from looking at yourself all day. It IS exhausting. Autumm Caines showed us how on Zoom you could keep your camera on for others to see you but find ways to hide it from yourself. Can get tricky but can be handy, too.
- Don’t hesitate to do social meetings. They’re almost always more relaxing and can help your wellbeing as opposed to work meetings that can be more stressful especially if you’re planning for an uncertain fall semester and such.
- Relax about pets and kids. Everyone who has them understands. Most ppl who don’t have them understand.
- Relax about webcams on and off. Explain why you need them on or off and give folks freedom on that one as much as possible. It reduces stress all around. If you want ppl to keep cameras on, let them know ahead of time and do meaningful activities that work better w cameras on so people can appreciate the value of it.
- Do offline things during online meetings. Like doing things with paper, bringing stuff from home to show others (for kids, like a scavenger hunt of stuff at home), or agreeing to eat or have coffee together
- Play music while ppl wait or during breaks. Not too loud, so they can also chat if they want. Sometimes the music becomes the small talk ice breaker
- Put up coloring pages. On Zoom you can allow ppl to use the Annotate function to color together
- My other wellbeing tip is to do playful stuff online. Matt Crosslin et al did a great edu design “Chopping Block” activity which I repurposed to a “Mystery box” challenge in a workshop and people loved it. #OLCInnovate did a lot of game nights (not all of it w free stuff) but also a lot of stuff in sessions and in the Innovation Studio (Maddie Shellgren is a gem. check out the Escape room and Loglines activities – others developed them but I think Maddie led the studio this year. I think Angela Gunder has done things like this before, and ppl ).
I’ll stop here.
What are your well-being tips?