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8 Tips for Overcoming Zoom and Virtual Meeting Fatigue

Today, there are more people working from home and taking video conference calls than ever before. With these new working conditions comes a new set of challenges, including “Zoom fatigue.” What is Zoom fatigue? It’s the blurring together of the workday with the rest of our lives as both our work and free time have become increasingly digital. It’s also the exhaustion that comes from the increased meetings we schedule to stay in touch while apart.

How can you overcome video fatigue? It comes down to taking frequent breaks and limiting screen and video time wherever possible. While virtual meetings are likely here to stay, you and your team can follow some easy steps to cope with Zoom fatigue.

1. Schedule Breaks Between Calls

It can be tempting to schedule back-to-back meetings when there’s no commute between your home office and your virtual conference room. However, that quick five-minute walk you usually get between in-person meetings provides a mental reset. You can recreate that short break by scheduling meetings 10 to 20 minutes apart. Take advantage of pre-meeting downtime to step outside, make a cup of coffee or stroll from one end of the house to the other.

Taking a few minutes to rest your brain and your eyes can give you the energy you need to power through your next meeting.

2. Moderate Your Screen Time, Both During and Outside of Working Hours

In an in-person work setting, meetings represent a much-needed break from screens. Even if you take notes on a laptop, having a discussion means looking up from your screen.

With meetings taking place online, office workers need new strategies for limiting their daily screen intake during the workday. Try taking notes or making to-do lists using pen and paper. When you can, print out documents instead of scrolling through them in your file-sharing app.
While there are certain things you’ll have to do on a screen at work, you can help yourself recover by limiting screen time outside of work. While you might relax by turning on the television or video chatting some friends, build in some time for other activities. Take time to exercise, cook dinner, read or go outside. Your eyes and your mind need the time to relax and recharge.

3. Avoid Eye Strain by Taking Frequent Breaks

Humans normally blink 15 times a minute. That number drops to just five to seven times a minute when we’re looking at screens. Digital eye strain is no new concept in the digital age, anconference call fatigue is compounding the problem. Back-lit screens, small text, and screen glare can cause eye strain and vision problems. Computer vision syndrome can cause your eyesight to blur, and your eyes to feel achy, dry, and tired.

Most of the time, taking breaks to protect your eyes won’t even disrupt your meeting. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends following the “20-20-20” rule for eye strain. All you need to do is look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. If you sit near a window, you can do this without even leaving your desk. You can also consider scheduling eye-strain breaks throughout a meeting, so the whole office can take care of their eyes without worrying about looking distracted.

4. Switch to Using Phone Calls Occasionally

The stress that comes from feeling disconnected from your team can make everyone want to jump on a video call for every meeting. Often, a voice-only conference call for a small group can be just as effective. The audio quality on your cellphone might even be better than your video call, making a phone call potentially more productive.

Be smart about what warrants a video calendar invite. Some conversations can be had over email or your instant messaging platform. Also, consider the rest of your schedule when planning Zoom meetings. A one-on-one meeting at the end of the day after you and your co-worker have both had several video calls that day might actually be better as a phone call.

5. Turn off Your Video Feed in Large Meetings

Another cause of video call fatigue is the extra visual stimuli we encounter during multi-way calls. Whenever a new person talks, we’re focused on a new background. We are often tempted to study the posters, houseplants, or people we see behind our colleagues. 

Just as distracting, our faces remain ever-present in the corner of the screen. Research shows that people spend more time looking at their own faces than each other over video calls. You might be worried about how you look, which can divide your attention.

In large meetings where you’ll spend much of the call listening to others, consider turning off your video and taking your eyes off the screen while you listen to the conversation.

6. Avoid Multitasking

Studies show heavy multitaskers perform worse in many cognitive areas. Multitasking forces you to switch between tasks, causing your brain to refocus your attention again and again. Multitasking affects your attentiveness, learning abilities and more. So, if you’re tab surfing, answering emails, or instant messaging during a video meeting, you’re probably overworking your brain.

It doesn’t help that Zoom calls make you work harder to focus. Audio issues can leave you trying to fill in the gaps whenever you miss a word. Screens distort body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice, making your brain work harder to understand the discussion. Add scrolling through your inbox to the list, and you may be tiring yourself even more. 

Do yourself a favor by staying off your phone and turning off notifications on your laptop during meetings. Keep your video call the only tab visible to resist the temptation to click around.

7. Consider Scheduling Breaks During Longer Meetings

Even in person, a meeting that runs over an hour can be challenging on your attention span. Taking five minutes to stretch your legs or go to the bathroom can help you reset your energy for the rest of the call. If you can, encourage your team to schedule breaks during long meetings, and take a pause whenever you reach a natural stopping point.

8. Consider Building in One Zoom-Free Day per Week

.One day without meetings could offer a significant boost for your productivity and focus. Meetings, whether in-person or online, cause us to interrupt whatever we’re working on and resume it later. If you receive to-do items during the call, you might put off whatever you were doing to focus on these new tasks. Meetings interrupt your flow and often leave you feeling more drained afterward, especially if you’re an introvert.
Consider making it a team or company policy to reserve one day each week when there are no meetings. Set this day aside for deep focus. Keeping one Zoom-free day a week can help everyone be more selective about scheduling meetings.

Additional Resources and Support From CTI

Remote work presents unique challenges, but maintaining a balance and developing a successful workflow is possible. We at Consolidated Technologies, Inc. have been tracking the “work from home revolution” since it began, and have compiled many resources to help your company jump the technological and mental hurdles of remote operations.

Browse our free resources and downloads today for the latest working from home tips and remote communication strategies.