A Blog by Lunebase

Zoom your way to success

Cast your mind back to 2019.

I know, I know, I do it all the time too. But humour me for a moment.

Not only was Corona something you’d only encounter on a beer garden on a Friday, but the office was a five-day-per-week venture. And meetings, if you can believe it, had to be organised face-to-face. Telephone calls had to be made. Rooms had to be booked out. Handshakes were actually expected.

What’s more, most of us had never heard of Zoom before the pandemic. Video calls were restricted to the occasional FaceTime with friends in an evening, or Skype-ing your older family members who didn’t know how to work their smartphone.

Three years on and it looks like Zoom is here to stay. Not only does it make meetings easier to organise with anyone anywhere in the world, but it also means we’re able to have more vital meetings during the working day (okay, this one might be more con than pro…).

But even with three years’ worth of Zoom under our belts, sometimes it’s not always obvious what best practice is. Read on for our list of top tips, do’s and don’ts to make sure you’ll be Zooming to your next meeting in full confidence.

  • Blur your background – not everyone wants to see your room behind you, even if it’s tidy and your bookshelf is in full view. These things can be distracting from the real thing people want to see. You!

  • If you can’t blur your background, try adding one of your own. Zoom has plenty of pre-loaded backgrounds for you to use, and a quick Google will reveal even more you can use if you wish.

  • Change your display name to something relevant. Try adding your organisation, university, or even country when attending a busy meeting so that people can easily distinguish you.

  • Dialling into a physical meeting? Don’t feel overwhelmed – approach as you would any other meeting.

  • In a physical meeting and being joined by someone on Zoom? Try and space yourselves out as much as possible so that not everyone is crammed into the screen. Speak clearly, and wait patiently for your turn.

  • Even better if you’re in the same room as others – try Zooming in from your own laptops or phones. This is much easier for the people already using Zoom. Just be sure to mute yourself whenever you’re not talking to prevent audio doubling up!

  • While you’re at it, why not max out your tech. Omnidirectional mics are made to make conference calls crystal clear, optimising voices and reducing background noise.

Longing for longevity

Bear with me… 🐻

Ever heard of Tom Brady?

If not, he’s the all-star American football player. A master of his sport.

The G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time for those of us not down with the kids).

Aged 43, with his class peers all long since retired, he won the Super Bowl (think the Champions League or Wimbledon of American Football) with a brand new team.

It would be convenient to think Brady came preloaded with some unattainable, far-fetched genetic gift not accessible to me or you. It makes me feel better about not making it off the couch for a run for the last six months, anyway.

The simple truth may be more banal. His longevity may just be the product of better habits than yours and mine.

But what can we learn from Brady when it comes to our longevity, whether at home or work or life in general? A lot of it comes down to self discipline.

As Brady said: “If I don’t really work at it … and if I don’t play to my strengths, I’m a very average football player”.

That’s all well and good for the sports superstars, but how does this translate to day-to-day life for the rest of us? Well, discipline in life’s most basic habits is where we can find longevity.

Read on for our list of areas where care and attention can really pay off in the long-term:

  1. Get regular health checkups – whether that’s checking in with your mental health with loved ones, or acting early on any physical signs of concern.
  2. Let food be thy medicine. Getting in your five a day is still one of the best ways of reducing the risk of serious health problems.
  3. …and on that note, try and stick to an eating routine: eat early, and less often throughout the day.
  4. Get moving. Yes, walking counts – try and hit that step count every day if nothing else).
  5. Constantly work on quitting bad habits. What can you drop today that you’ll thank yourself for in six months?
  6. Make sleep your superpower. 7-9 hours a night is ideal – any less than this and you may begin to notice a change in your mental and physical condition.

Decisions, decisions… divisons?

Imagine you are a newly appointed town mayor in the 1920s. You’re keen to bring change to the community and make a positive impact. You pull up your suspenders, pick out your favourite hat, and take to the streets. Soon you find a fence, built across a path that you know is popular amongst the townsfolk.

A quick-thinking mayor might see the fence and say, “I don’t see the use of this. Let’s tear it down so that it no longer gets in people’s way”. To which a more reasoned and forward-thinking mayor might say, “I don’t see the use of this. However, just because I don’t see the use of this, doesn’t mean the fence has no use to somebody. I can’t reasonably destroy this fence without knowing the reasons why it was built.”

I stumbled across the work of GK Chesterton from his 1929 book The Thing. It contains the principle commonly known as Chesterton’s Fence, something that is within the Wikipedia editing community even today.

The logic states that until we establish the reason why something was created in the first place, we have no business destorying it. The reason may be no longer relevant, or even valuable; we just need to be aware of what the reason is. And this applies whether we’re debating to keep a fence, a sentence on Wikipedia, or a big decision that needs to be made.

When we’re making big decisions, we ought to be aware that some choices can have long lasting effects. Like where to send your child to school, whether to take that new job, who you really want in your circle of close friends, or how to react to that comment from your mother-in-law.

It goes without saying that in situations like these that we should take on more active and reflective thinking processes before hastily making decisions. Second-order thinking is the practice of not just considering the consequences of our decisions, but also the consequences of those consequences – just like an expert chess player might be thinking many moves ahead when deciding which piece to move next.

Everyone can manage first-order thinking, which is just considering the immediate anticipated result of an action. It’s simple and quick, usually requiring little effort. By comparison, second-order thinking is more complex and time-consuming. The fact that it is difficult and unusual is what makes the ability to do it such a powerful advantage.

Otherwise, we may end up with unintended consequences: second- and third-order effects we don’t want, spreading like ripples on a pond and causing damage for years. Like Chesterton’s Fence, we ought to establish the reason behind decision-making – and the future effects of our decisions – before we act.


How to improve your “how to”

Here’s a question: what does your YouTube search history look like? Mine goes:

1. “Paw Patrol toys” (my daughter, along with millions of other kids, could watch people play with plastic toys for hours 🤷‍♂️)
2. “Premier League highlights”

…closely followed by wide array of “how to” queries:

3. “How to change a bathroom tap”
4. “How to stretch a sore back”
5. “How to stop kids playing Baby Shark on Alexa”

The list goes on…

We’re all running into small problems in our day to day lives, and having short, easy-to-find instructional videos at your fingertips is one of the many great things about the internet.

Yes, long gone are the days of heavy how-to manuals or fold-out sheets that take up the living room floor, filled with confusing illustrations and annotations.

We can now find the solution to almost any problem through a professionally scripted and edited video, with cool graphics and instructions that get straight to the point.

In fact, 2 billion of us use YouTube every month. And this got us thinking…

The Lunebase team wanted to add value to the communities that we learn and take so much inspiration from. So we’ve built some “how to” instructions for the software we’ve been using to create our top-quality (humble brag…) digital learning content.

Articulate Storyline 360is an e-learning creation tool used by thousands in education and instructional design across the globe. While the user interface might look like a new iteration of PowerPoint 2000, Articulate Storyline 360 is actually the most powerful course builder out there.

Unfortunately, it also has a pretty steep learning curve for those just starting out. So we’ve produced a short series of micro-lessons (and some top-tips) for Articulate Storyline 360.

Want to see a sneak peek of our first micro-lesson? Oh go on then. Click here.

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How to be a little bit more productive at work

Achieving an Instagram worthy work-life balance is hard.

While the hustler’s mindset might look easy with some well-designed graphics carousels and inspirational Tweets, most of us have got deadlines we’re chasing and an endless to-do list. So how can we make the most of our working time without feeling like we’re drowning?

Back in my University days, I used the pomodoro technique to good effect. If you’ve never heard of the pomodoro technique, it’s a process that involves completing a larger task by breaking it down into more manageable chunks of time – typically around 20 to 25 minutes – followed by a small break. That’s 25 minutes of complete immersion in the task at hand, with absolutely no distractions. Followed by five minutes of a complete break – get away from the desk, grab a coffee, get some fresh air, doomscroll through TikTok. Whatever your thing is.

The pomodoro technique intends to maximise your productivity by harnessing your focus in those moments of work. To really see the benefits of the technique, after every 4 ‘pomodoro’s’ try taking a longer break of around 20 or 30 minutes.

Don’t have access to an easy timer yourself? Take a look at this great free website. Pomodoro has made a comeback for me ever since. Add a new tab to add to the 26 you’ve already got open and away you go.

Why exactly does the pomodoro technique work, I hear you ask?

  1. Managing distractions – short breaks help you concentrate better and fight cognitive boredom.
  2. A reward-based approach – your brain still gets the dopamine hits it craves, but only after 25 minutes of deep focus.
  3. Adhering to timeboxing – that’s Parkinson’s law, which states that “the work will take the time allocated to it”. Why spend longer on something than you need to?
  4. Better time management – when you know how long it takes to actually complete tasks, you’ll be less apprehensive of tackling them in future.

Try it for yourself. In the words of eminent scientist (and my personal hero) Dr Pepper, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Top trivia: If you’re wondering where the name “pomodoro technique” comes from, it derives from “pomo” – Italian for “tomato” – and the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Francesco Cirllo used at university.

Wellbeing Champions Newsletter

Monthly collection of news, wellbeing updates, lifestyle tips, and feel-good stories - delivered right to your inbox every third Thursday.

☕ Five-minute round-up. 🤐 No-spam ever. 👋 Unsubscribe at any time.
Privacy policy for the fellow GDPR nerds 🤓


Using pop culture for inspiration

If you’re anything like me, you’ll often need a healthy dose of inspiration to start down a positive path.

Just one look at my new years resolution list shows where I’m being most influenced. Whether it’s the motivation I need stop spending so much time on my phone, or push myself around the skate bowl, it’s often parts of modern pop culture that have the ability to affect, and inspire, each of us.

When we’re learning new skills, or trying to motivate others, we can use pop culture to help inspire, or even act as a framework to hang the take-home points on.

Take one of the greatest TV adverts of all time: the iconic Guinness horses. With a bit of parody, we managed to turn it into a motivational animation for a step-it-up wellbeing campaign, designed to help encourage workplace teams during a 30-day challenge to hit a target of 10,000 steps per day.

Pop culture is everywhere. Even though we may not love every part of pop culture, we are all at least comfortable with some parts of it.

By using experiences we are familiar with, and in alternate forms like a parody, we can make the intended outcome much more memorable, or even that gold standard – inspiring.

To once again use the Guinness campaign – good things come to those who inspire (and wait).

Wellbeing Champions Newsletter

Monthly collection of news, wellbeing updates, lifestyle tips, and feel-good stories - delivered right to your inbox every third Thursday.

☕ Five-minute round-up. 🤐 No-spam ever. 👋 Unsubscribe at any time.
Privacy policy for the fellow GDPR nerds 🤓