Battling Digital Burnout

Achieving balance has always been a challenge, even before the COVID-19 pandemic gave the term “work-life balance” a whole new meaning. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert in battling digital burnout and finding that perfect balance in this newly virtual world. I too experience feelings of apathy, short attention span, and a lack of motivation. However, I’d love to share some tips that have helped me to keep me chin up, persist, and perform in this challenging season!

Tip #1: Be intentional about staying connected

Connection is harder to come by these days, but we are lucky to still have so many ways to connect, even if it does look a little different.   

Enjoy those you're with!*

Many of us still get to interact in-person with people throughout our day, whether they are roommates, family, classmates, coworkers, or the clerk at the grocery store. Capitalize on the few in-person interactions you get to have. 

  • Get to know your next-door neighbor
  • Catch up with your roommates at the end of a long day
  • Get some quality time with your pet if you have one!

We were made to be in community with one-another, so don’t pass up these opportunities each day to connect. 

Take advantage of technology

There are so many ways to stay connected virtually and foster community. I love to play games with my friends over video conferences. Here’s some of my favorites:

If you’re sick of Zoom calls, switch up your medium! I love a good old-fashioned phone call or a informal FaceTime to an old friend.

A student working from home

Move closer

No, I’m not talking about moving closer physically (social distance, of course) but rather, move into what people are going through. Ask those tough questions:

  • “How are you really doing?”
  • “What’s been the hardest/best part of your week?” 
  • “What do you feel like you’ve lost over these past several months? What have you gained?”
  • “What are you most looking forward to when this is all over?”
  • “What are you dreading the most right now?”
  • “What can I do to  help?”

Hearing what others are going through may bring validation to your own struggles and allow you to lock arms as you walk through those challenges together.  

*While connecting, do remember to keep an appropriate physical distance during this time!

Tip #2: Rethink your workspace

There’s no denying it: we’re all going to have to spend a little more time on a computer or at a desk than we probably prefer. That being said, you might as well make your workspace as ergonomic as possible!

Separate rest and work

When working from home, it’s important to have an area dedicated to work and an area dedicated to rest. 

  • Work at a desk, not on your bed or your living room couch!
  • Feel free to switch it up! If you’re able, move around to revitalize your motivation. Go to a different room, a backyard, the library, or a coffee shop that allows for socially-distanced seating 
Aesthetic desk setup

Invest in smart supplies

You’ll be working from home a lot, so creating an effective workspace will be a good investment. These are some purchases I’d recommend making if you’re able:

  • A mouse. It helps to keep your hands from cramping and expands your range of motion as compared to a laptop trackpad.
  • A second monitor. Extending your display makes it easier to navigate between tabs and multitask. I got mine second-hand for under $20! 
  • Blue light glasses. They block out the “bad light” from your computer and help reduce eye strain.
  • A lamp. Make sure your workspace is well-lit!
  • A comfy chair. Just make sure you sit up straight!

Pay attention to posture

Sitting at a desk all day can be harmful to your back and neck if you don’t maintain healthy posture, thus making you feel more fatigued at the end of a long day. 

  • Adjust your chair so that you knees are at the same level as your hips
  • Similarly, your hands should be at or below elbow level.
  • Position your computer to be at eye-level and an arm’s length away
  • Keep your feet flat on the ground

Do these checks with the current position you’re sitting in and make adjustments as needed!

Tip #3: Take a break

Working or taking classes remotely is exhausting! Though it’s important to stay diligent, you won’t be effective in completing your work and staying level-headed unless you allow yourself some down-time.

Take short and frequent breaks

I often like to work for 45 minutes followed by a 15 minute break, then repeat. 

What can you possibly do in just 15 minutes? Here’s some suggestions:

  • Take a walk around the block. Bonus points if you bring your furry friend with you!
  • Do some jumping jacks
  • Take a power nap
  • Grab a snack or make a cup of coffee
  • Start a load of laundry (you know you have to)
A small dog on a leash

Set aside time each day for NO technology

Yep, you read that right. I know it seems daunting, but it is SO refreshing. Set aside a time in the day (it could be during meal timesfirst thing in the morning, or right before bed) to turn your phone or computer completely off or put them in a different room. 

Rachel from friends says to take a break

Take a break from your technology – it won’t be offended, and it will be right where you left it when you come back.

Pick up non-digital hobbies

Are you someone who loves playing video games, watching Netflix, or scrolling through social media? It might be beneficial for your to explore new hobbies that don’t add even MORE screen time to your schedule that is already laden with Zoom calls. 

  • Read a book (preferably a physical book rather than on an iPad or Kindle)
  • Go for a walk or a run. Maybe now is the time to train for that half-marathon you’ve been putting off. 
  • Play a sport! Recently I’ve loved pickleball and frisbee because they’re low-intensity, easy to pick up, social-distance-friendly, and a great exercise. 
A student reading in bed

I hope these tips were helpful! I’d just love to encourage you that your struggles are justified. Don’t beat yourself for having a hard time adjusting or for grieving what you’ve lost as a result of this pandemic. Try to find the silver lining and make the most of the resources and the people around you – you are not in this alone!

Sami with Cam the Ram

Author: Sami Fischer

Sami is in her 4th and final year at CSU studying civil engineering and is originally from Centennial, CO. In her free time she loves hiking, rock climbing, and spending time with friends, but you’ll most likely find her at one of her favorite coffee shops in Fort Collins working on her engineering assignments.

When she graduates, Sami wants to continue her studies and get her M.S. in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Water Resources, and eventually she hopes to work for an engineering missions organization!

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the engineering ambassador team at explore@engr.colostate.edu!