Adapted from an article by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy
If you’re finding that you’re more exhausted at the end of your workday than you used to be, you’re not alone. Over the last several months, “Zoom fatigue” has increasingly appeared on social media and in Google searches, with many workers unsure how to alleviate this exhaustion. Thankfully, this article features 5 research-based tips that can help you reduce the stress and fatigue surrounding video conferencing.
It’s easy to think that you can use the opportunity to do more in less time, but research shows that trying to do multiple things at once cuts into performance. Because you have to turn certain parts of your brain off and on for different types of work, switching between tasks can cost you as much as 40 percent of your productive time. The next time you’re on a video chat, close any tabs or programs that might distract you (e.g. your inbox or Slack), put your phone away, and stay present.
Build in breaks.
Take mini breaks from video during longer calls by minimizing the window, moving it to behind your open applications, or just looking away from your computer completely for a few seconds now and then. This is not an invitation to start doing something else, but to let your eyes rest for a moment. For days when you can’t avoid back-to-back calls, consider making meetings 25 or 50 minutes (instead of the standard half-hour and hour) to give yourself enough time in between to get up and move around for a bit.
Reduce onscreen stimuli.
Research shows that when you’re on video, you tend to spend the most time gazing at your own face. This can be easily avoided by hiding yourself from view. Still, onscreen distractions go far beyond yourself. You may be surprised to learn that on video, we not only focus on other’s faces, but on their backgrounds as well. If you’re on a call with five people, you may feel like you’re in five different rooms at once. To combat mental fatigue, try switching to Speaker View instead of Gallery View, so that only the person who is speaking appears on the screen.
Switch to phone calls or email.
Check your calendar for the next few days to see if there are any conversations you could have over Teams or email instead. If 4PM rolls around and you’re Zoomed-out but have an upcoming one-on-one, ask the person to switch to a phone call or suggest picking up the conversation later so you can both recharge. Try something like, “I’d love a break from video calls. Do you mind if we do this over the phone?” Most likely the other person will be relieved by the switch, too.
Avoid always defaulting to video
Many people now feel a tendency to treat video as the default for all communication. When communicating with people in or outside your organization, you may feel obligated to send out a Zoom link in place of where you would have relied on a phone conversation. If a colleague sends you a video call link or FaceTimes you with no warning, it’s ok to suggest a phone call instead.
Some of these tips might be hard to follow at first (especially that one about resisting the urge to tab-surf during your next Zoom call). But taking these steps can help you prevent feeling so exhausted at the thought of another video chat. It’s tiring enough trying to adapt to this new normal. Make video calls a little easier for yourself.