In these unprecedented times, one thing there is no shortage of is information. It’s everywhere, from the news and social media, to videos and local community bulletins. While information serves to inform the masses, at the same time, a lot of that content is the driving source in contributing to our anxiety.
Recent reports have stated that the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating mental health issues across the country. By nature, humans have a negativity bias. Though negativity sometimes serves as a motivator, we also tend to perceive negative information as truthful. It’s almost like a defense mechanism that gives us a sense of protection from the unknown and uncertain; like maybe if we can imagine and, in turn, come to expect the worst, we can prevent it. It is certainly a slippery slope if you maintain that state of mind. Digital solutions have helped us stay connected and productive, but we do need to make sure that we don’t let technology overwhelm us.
I am fortunate to work with a talented group of individuals, and together we help companies manage their product information. But let’s look beyond product information, let’s talk about all the information we consume. As more people are working from home, it’s no surprise that more information is being consumed every hour than ever before. Not everyone has the luxury of a private home office. Your space might include news channels running in the background, kids wanting your attention, pets clamoring to play, grocery deliveries, the sounds of neighborhood construction in the background, and so on.
We’re experiencing all this stimulation while being told to stay indoors, making us feel trapped and more likely to consume all the information whirling around us, through browsers, podcasts, or television. Here are some things you could try to make sure that the mind stays sharp, focused, and calm throughout the workday:
Set an agenda for your meetings and stick to it
Irrespective of a pandemic, it’s important to always set a clear agenda for your meetings. At the beginning of each meeting, have the organizer announce the agenda to all attendees and set the stage for conversation. Moderate the meeting, stick to the agenda, and make sure to leave room for everyone to build a human connection as well.
Make time on the calendar to take break(s)
At a time where we can’t walk from our desks to a conference room or to a client’s office, our bodies and minds still need regular movements. Make time to step away from the computer, do squats between meetings, or walk to another room to grab water or a snack. Mark your calendars and create a list of your daily work tasks, but be sure to include room for breaks.
Set time blocks to consume news
Smartphones and apps mean the information is at our fingertips. People tend to leave a lot of browser tabs open with the intention to read every single article that they come across, especially news related to the current situation, when information can change by the minute. Intentionally set a time to read or listen to the news (preferably in the afternoon or evening). Pick only a couple of trusted sources of reference. Turn off social media or news app notifications on your phone. Make sure to really disconnect after your scheduled news period to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Conduct the last meeting of the day as a team sync-up
There are many social activities happening remotely these days. From online music festivals to virtual happy hours, digital solutions make it easier to stay connected in times of social distancing than ever before. But before you turn off your work laptop for the day, make sure to connect with your team members (preferably only one or two at a time) to check in with them about their day, discuss tasks they completed, address any roadblocks, and create a plan for the next day.
It is our responsibility to make sure our teams still get to bond and share thoughts and ideas. Whether it’s product information or any information, it’s impossible to completely avoid it all. But we can certainly manage the amount of information we consume and when.
Stay informed & be safe!
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