For full disclosure, I don’t actually use Zoom for work purposes. We use Microsoft Teams but it’s the same video conference calling principle – I just couldn’t find an appropriate song lyric that fit.
Since lockdown, such platforms have proved to be a real saviour when it comes to keeping in touch with clients, strategic partners, work colleagues, not to mention friends and family.
However, and I’m sure I’m not alone here, I have found spending most of my day on video conference calls to be extremely tiring.
To the extent that I no longer want to do any kind of social Zoom calls in the evening.
As soon as I said this aloud, other people said the same thing. Then I discovered this phenomenon known as “Zoom fatigue”.
So, if you are feeling equally fatigued, here are some tips to help keep up those energy levels and make you more productive.
- Don’t eat Zoom for breakfast
Don’t start your day with a video conference call.
Spend the first hour of your day planning, thinking, relaxing or exercising.
Use the time you might have spent travelling to work on something which will help you better prepare for the day ahead, whatever this may be. Maybe go for a run, walk or cycle rather than having more time in bed, regardless of how appealing that is.
I still start my day listening to music, and it’s livelier than it used to be with punk ‘n’ Pogues my current go-to playlist.
- Understand why calls are so tiring
Video calls make you focus more intently on conversations in order to absorb information, especially when many faces are staring at us and the brain is not built for that.
It’s also harder to read people which can hamper relationships and trust.
In all honesty, it was a relief when I heard that others were also struggling and this made us discuss as a team why this was and how we could solve it.
- Keep it short
I often notice that people get distracted, usually by something else on their PC or phone.
It’s easier to lose focus on video calls, especially if you have to keep asking family members to keep the noise down or are constantly getting interrupted by pets.
Keeping calls shorter ensures that you can maintain focus for longer and also try to keep back-to-back calls to a minimum.
- Minimise the screen
Zoom fatigue stems from how we process information. On a video call, the only way to show that we’re paying attention is to look at the camera. But, in real life, how often do you stand within three feet of a colleague and stare at their face? This constant eye contact is tiring.
I have learned to minimise the screen so that I don’t just see a collection of faces on my laptop. This helps. But that does not mean you should then multitask.
In short, stay focused on the meeting but focus less on staring at people on the screen.
- Take a break
Don’t be a slave to the Zoom. Take breaks, little and often. You need to give your eyes and brain a rest.
- Mix ‘n’ Match
I have noticed that some people want to chat a lot on calls and use them more as a virtual social gathering, others just want to get on with the meeting as they have already had six online meetings that day.
So, I have set up two non-work calls with my team each week, to talk about everything not to do with work.
These are not mandatory but they have been of great help to some people.
- Use the phone
Where possible, I will try to do one-to-one conversations over the phone. I found that video calls had taken over and everything was being done through this medium when it didn’t need to be.
In summary, video calling has been a godsend for many people over lockdown but Zoom fatigue is a real thing and I hope that sharing these points may help in some small way to overcome it.