A Survival Guide to the Era of Zoom

Gabriella Rodriguez, Staff Reporter

It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of skyrocketing statistics, it was the age of disastrous lack of Wi-Fi, it was the epoch of COVID-19, it was the epoch of mask-wearing, it was the season of boredom, it was the season of hand sanitizer, it was the spring of lockdown, it was the winter of chaotic politics, we had screens before us, we had crushed dreams before us, we were all going direct to bed, we were all going direct to our desks—in short, the period was so far nothing like 2019, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted that everything was under control, for it was obviously nothing but a hoax, in the comparative degree of 2020 only.

Welcome, fellow citizen, to the era of Zoom. If you are like much of the DHS student population, you are likely sitting at your desk or bed, staring at your computer. People are talking on the online call. Your screen looks like a rectangular portal to nowhere. Your eyes feel fried and you probably have a headache. Disorder is the order of the day. 

The truth is, there is no quick fix to resolve this. It is ongoing, and if you have fallen into a cycle of electronic chaos, it might be difficult to recover. But fear not: with the right methods, you can establish a functional setup. You can create the directions even when it seems like there are none, and you can manage to make it through these bizarre times. 

One of the first pieces of advice is to keep a consistent and (relatively) organized workspace. Sure, it’s somewhat of a cliché, but it has an element of truth. There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than shuffling through five notebooks, forty-three seconds before class begins. It is easy to lose pencils and supplies when everything has been crammed into the same area. Regularly check your surroundings to see if you have all the necessary tools before you begin each period. 

Since the schedules at Deerfield High School now have fifteen-minute passing periods, it is important to ration these minutes. Time is food. Consume it well. Not the best metaphor, but you get the idea. You may want to start by setting timers. In the vast space of distraction, timers act as a cord to tether your focus. Perhaps you can take the first five minutes as a break — however you choose to spend that. While the weather is not quite as warm as it was, there are other alternatives to give you a breather. Choose what is right for you and follow through with it.   

In the meantime, enjoy not having to dash from Q-hall to upper X in five minutes. 

Further, it may be tempting to slip into an indistinct work pattern, or in other words, to “just get it done.” Your math homework and history notes mysteriously merge into one. Distractions, more prominent than ever, overshadow that English essay. Unfortunately, this approach tends to result in nothing done, or everything partially-done. When you begin your assignments, decide what you are going to do with purpose, or at least have a broad outline. Taking a test mid-banana isn’t going to cut it. Parts of your day tend to overlap, but be aware of your plan. You don’t have to obsess, but you should be conscious of how long each activity takes to finish. Google Calendar is available along with any other programs that are best for you. Assignment notebooks work as well. 

In addition, you may want to consider bookmarking important sites and links, and then placing them in a folder. Hopping between hyperlinks is sometimes an inconvenience, and so it might help you out to have easy access in one place. Further, ordering the links as they occur in your schedule is something to consider. Ultimately, it is a matter of personal choice. Then every morning, check to make sure that you are signed into Zoom with the account you are using. After all, your computer might remember that tab you opened three months ago, but sometimes it forgets that you signed into an important site earlier that day. It’s not very fun, but it happens.

That beats memorizing eight meeting IDs and passwords, doesn’t it? 

To add, unless your device is flawless, you are bound to encounter some technical problems. Sometimes it feels like your Chromebook is the Little Engine That Could of the computer world, but it’s important to be patient. Be careful not to overload with tabs, and regularly ensure that your network signal is sufficient. If you continue to have issues, then remember to contact the Technology Department for support on the DHS website at [email protected]

And lo, it’s not the end of the world…probably. But as for now, take care of yourself and your space. One day you will look back on this experience, and with any hope, it will not be absolutely terrible. In the indeterminate future, you will get through this. Until then, keep at it.