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How to Combat Zoom Fatigue

By Ashley Orndorff, aka Marketing Geek laptop with video equipment

It is exhausting to have to be “on” all the time and meetings can take up a lot of your time and energy. The concept applies even if you are working remotely and having video meetings. If you’re feeling exhausted after video meetings, you could be experiencing “Zoom Fatigue”. Here’s what you need to know and a few ways to combat Zoom fatigue:

What is “Zoom Fatigue”?

“Zoom fatigue” has become the catch-all term for feeling worn-out and tired after many video/online meetings. Although there are other options for video meetings, Zoom seems to be a go-to across industries, which is why it got space in the name. Plus, it’s shorter than saying “video/online meeting fatigue” or using the names of other tools for online work meetings.

The general feeling of tired comes from feeling like you have to be “on” all the time. Even with video, you can still miss a lot of communication cues that come from in-person interactions. Often, your brain is working hard to pay attention to all of the details, stay focused, and process distractions.

Plus, you don’t get the normal visual breaks that come with other meetings, so the state of “constant gaze” is tiring. And, it only becomes more difficult when you add in technology issues, miscommunications, poor communication strategies, and more.

On top of having to manage your focus and other internal distractions, you also have to deal with external distractions, other people, etc. in your environment. All of this is a drain on your energy, which can result in you feeling more exhausted than usual after a day that includes video calls.

6 Tips to Help Make Video Calls Less Exhausting

Video calls can be exhausting and Zoom fatigue is real. But, there are some things you can do to combat Zoom fatigue and help make video calls less exhausting. Some of them overlap with things you can do to avoid burnout when working from home, which is a nice bonus. Here are some tips to help make video calls less exhausting:

1. Avoid Multitasking

Meetings take up your time and it’s tempting to multitask during them to avoid falling behind. But, multitasking, especially during video calls, cuts into your focus, makes you less productive overall, and also contributes to feeling even more exhausted once the call is over.

Instead of attempting to multitask during your next video meeting, give yourself some time to prepare for it. Close extra tabs, turn your phone on silent, hide distracting programs, make sure anyone else in your space knows you have a meeting and will try not to interrupt you during it, etc. All of these things can help you avoid multitasking, combat Zoom fatigue, focus on the meeting, and come out of it less exhausted.

2. Reduce Onscreen Distractions

Avoiding multitasking can help you avoid some distractions. But, video calls present a ton of onscreen distractions as well, especially if people have a lot of interesting things in their backgrounds or are not muting themselves when they are not speaking.

All of those other people and other background items can be distracting and also overwhelming as you intentionally or unintentionally take in all of that visual stimuli. This can contribute to mental fatigue.

If possible, have people use plain backgrounds. You can also encourage people that aren’t running the meeting or speaking to turn off their video. This can help reduce onscreen distractions and reduce mental fatigue on video calls.

3. Make Space for Breaks

Staring at a screen for too long strains your eyes and also contributes to mental fatigue. On longer video calls, make space for breaks. Looking away from your computer for a few seconds every few minutes is a good way to give your eyes a break. You can also minimize the application for a little bit.

Part of making space for breaks is managing your calendar. Schedule your video meetings with sufficient breaks in between. If you can, avoid scheduling multiple video meetings in one day or scheduling them back-to-back.

If you can’t avoid back-to-back meetings, try to keep them a little shorter. Instead of the more standard 30 minute- or hour-long meetings, schedule them for 20-25 minutes or 40-50 minutes. Not only will this keep your meetings shorter and more focused, but it will also help you build in breaks and create some room for you to breathe and get up to move around for a few minutes in between meetings.

4. Have Phone Calls Instead of Video When You Can

Video meetings can be a great way to connect with people and go over things. But, not every online meeting has to be a video meeting. Everyone needs a break and some people may be more comfortable and productive with a phone call.

If you already have video meetings on the calendar, take a look and see which ones will be just as successful as phone calls. Or, if you are scheduling meetings, take a second to consider if the video is really necessary. If not, make it a phone call instead of a video call.

5. Don’t Have Meetings That Could Have Been an Email

Some meetings are unnecessary and could have been more easily resolved in an email. Be cognizant of what your meeting is about, the goals for the meetings, etc. and really think about if a meeting is truly necessary.

If it can be handled with an email, send the email and forgo the meeting. You can always have a meeting if the conversation evolves to require it, but you don’t need to have a meeting just to have a meeting.

6. Keep Virtual Social Events Optional

Having virtual social events can be a great way to offer emotional support to your team, which is one of the tips for managing remote teams. But, you want to make sure these virtual social events are truly optional to attend, which can help your team combat Zoom fatigue.

Some team members may not want to spend their time that way and that should be okay. Even if team members normally participate, they could be feeling exhausted from video meetings and want a break. This should also be completely acceptable.

Attending these events will contribute to Zoom fatigue, so you want to make sure that none of your team members feel pressured to attend these events. And, you should make sure there are no actual or perceived negative consequences for not attending the events.

These are just a few ways to combat Zoom fatigue and help make video meetings less exhausting. Hopefully, implementing a few of these tips can help you handle your upcoming video calls and come out of them with more of your energy and focus intact.

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