FOMO is the new NO NO

A fear of missing out (FOMO) is generally the anxious feeling you might get when you feel that other people could be having a good time without you. You fear making the wrong decision on how to spend your time, and subsequently missing out on what could be a rewarding experience.  In the digital age, it’s a much-used phrase in teen vernacular, and can lead to a constant monitoring of social media to see what friends are doing.

During the pandemic, many of our clients have been working longer hours and completely online, their schedules crammed with back-to-back Zoom or Teams meetings across the day, without so much as a 10-minute coffee break factored in. Some senior managers are so exhausted that their ability to function professionally is becoming increasingly difficult. This leads to absent presenteeism, meaning while they’re physically at work and doing work, managers are operating at a significantly-reduced level, which in turn can reduce motivation and productivity in the teams around them.  Added to presenteeism is the element of FOMO; “I must attend every meeting so I don’t miss something important,” or “I’m tired, but if I don’t go to this meeting I could lose influence with my colleagues.”

As coaches, we encourage people to make time for themselves within the working day. The neurological and physiological are intertwined; if you don’t take a break to stretch your legs, rest your eyes from your screen and calm your brain, you become less effective. We use the mantra ourselves too; a brisk walk in the fresh air between coaching sessions allows the mind to relax and wonder. During coaching, we’ll take a tea-break, as we would if we were meeting in person, to allow both coach and client to recalibrate.

Self-care is essential.  It’s more important than missing or rescheduling a meeting. This has been such a challenging year for everyone; your colleagues are probably feeling the same way as you. So maybe think about ditching the FOMO, and work together to explore how you can integrate regular coffee or exercise breaks in to long meetings, and encourage members of your team to follow suit. Schedule some quality time out for yourself each day – whether that’s a 30-minute walk or packed lunch in the park – to give your brain and your eyes a break. Everyone has the resources and opportunity to be brilliant, but that can only be achieved if you take time to focus on your own wellbeing first.

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