We are quickly coming up on one year of social distancing and work-from-home mandates. Chances are you have gotten into some sort of system, and who knows maybe you are even enjoying it! The commute is definitely nicer, and not having to go outside in this freezing weather is a plus. Perks aside however, working from home also has some not so great side effects. Maybe you are experiencing eye strain, back pain, or are even feeling more tired than usual. If that is the case, you are not alone.
The fact of the matter is we are not used to spending this much time on our devices. Even in a typical nine-to-five office job setting, prior to the pandemic, there were commute times, coffee breaks, and social activities that gave us a rest from our screens. Nowadays we commute far less, and even social times have shifted to online. Not to mention all of the virtual meetings. This has resulted in a variety of symptoms, the most common being “Zoom fatigue.”
Zoom fatigue refers to the drained feeling that often follows a prolonged period spent in virtual meetings. Although named after the popular video conferencing site Zoom, it can be generalized to other online platforms such as Google Meets and FaceTime. These virtual platforms have become extremely ingrained in our day-to-day lives and we are not likely to get away from them anytime soon. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to help yourself cope.
Easily implementable tips to help with Zoom fatigue:
Create blocks of time in your calendar to take mini screen breaks. A popular rule of thumb for this is the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away. This will help tremendously with eye strain.
Alternatively, you can block out time to get up and stretch or commit to taking lunch away from your desk. It can be as simple as that. Implementing these small breaks when you can will help offset time spent in online meetings. Take some time to figure out what works for you, then block it off and make sure to stick to it.
More specific to the technical side of virtual meetings, you can change the view on your video settings to speaker mode. Doing so means that you will only see the person who is currently talking. This helps reduce Zoom fatigue as it is far less distracting and overstimulating.
Virtual meeting settings create an “all eyes on you” mentality that can be exhausting. It creates an atmosphere where you feel as though you have to be “on” at all times. Speaker mode reduces this mentality by helping you feel more of a “one-on-one” connection with the speaker. It also helps to increase focus.
On the topic of focus, virtual meetings create an increased allowance for multitasking. It is far less obvious in a virtual setting if you are working on other things simultaneously. Especially if your microphone and video are off.
Although this can seem more productive, it is usually not. Not only are you distracted and likely missing important information, you are also at an increased risk of burnout. Our advice is to close all other tabs prior to logging on to your meetings. This will help you to stay present and focused and hopefully, as a result, more energized and productive post-meeting.
Although weekends are usually meant for socialization, in our current reality, we encourage you to schedule social time during the week. Specifically virtual social time. It may seem counterintuitive to schedule more virtual meetings post-work on a weekday, but doing so leaves your weekends open for time away from these platforms.
Consider scheduling post-work chats and happy hour Google Meets during the week to leave weekends for other hobbies, especially those that don’t require a screen.
Virtual meetings are here to stay, at least for the next little while. Help reduce fatigue by implementing these tips today! Do you have any other tips for combatting Zoom fatigue? We’d love to hear them!