By Bree A. Vculek, George Washington University Law School
Why video calls can be exhausting
We’re multi-tasking. We’re logged on for a lecture, checking email (and our three social channels …), trying to entertain our quarantine puppy (just me?), texting friends and family, and checking out the décor in our professors’ and classmates’ homes. Talk about a recipe for law school stress.
While on video, the only way to appear engaged is to look at the camera. Doing this takes a lot of precious energy and focus to stare at the screen or camera rather than speaking directly to another human, interpret their understanding via a variety of body language cues.
We’re often staring at a small square of ourselves. And we have the tendency to over-analyze every imperfection on screen.
How to find balance and stay connected
Take a few moments before clicking “start” to center yourself and focus your attention. Take a few deep breaths, notice whatever is present in your mind and allow yourself to arrive fully to the moment.
Avoid multi-tasking during class. This can be incredibly challenging, but we need to exercise discipline here – turning off your notifications can make a world of a difference in reducing your law school stress.
Try to take breaks between classes. Refresh yourself. Protect your precious attention and energy. A few ideas include walking outdoors, stretching and/or cooking a quick nutritious meal.
Choose “speaker view.” Doing so allows the one person who is speaking to have more of your attention. Tracking an array of 24 (or more!) faces on the screen can add to your law school stress.
Hide the video of yourself from view. When you’re on video, you tend to spend a great deal of time gazing at your own face. This can be avoided by hiding yourself from view.
Switch other meetings to phone calls or email, if possible (walk and talk, anyone?). I actually stream BARBRI 2L/3L Mastery lectures and listen as I walk my dog, get groceries, etc.
Remind yourself occasionally that this is a new place between presence and absence that we will have to learn to navigate as we go forward into the future.
Finally, let’s not dismiss this amazing technology that enables us to achieve a legal education in the comfort and safety of our own homes.