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5 Practical Ways to Manage Zoom Fatigue

Laptop showing team meeting in an online conference

Source: Unsplash

Zoom, and technology in general, has made our lives easier and given us the convenience we are all seeking today. Just about everything has become virtual, from business meetings to learning, family time, and even hanging out with your coffee buddies!

Ironically, we are now more exhausted than we ever were!

We don't even understand how that is possible.

The Covid crisis in 2020 has marked the end of an era for how things used to be done, witnessing a double increase in demand for video chat apps. Video calls have now become a necessity, making remote work as well as blended work possible.

The physical meetings we got accustomed to in our office boardrooms have now become a distant memory.

But not all news is good news. One thing less talked about, but very real for all of us working from home has been the so-called "zoom fatigue". We felt it even before it had a name. So what is it, and most importantly, how can we manage it?

Why is Zoom so Exhausting?

Business woman looking tired in front of her laptop


Why would anyone prefer to go back to face-to-face interactions rather than keep enjoying the convenience that zoom offers?

Communication is 50% non-verbal cues, and Zoom will not offer you that half, you have to work for it. Video calls will, therefore, demand your focus and attention more than a face-to-face chat would.

If you don't pay extra attention, you are likely to miss out on the intended message. You need to think a little more on a video chat requiring you to exert yourself a little more than you would in a normal conversation.

Compared to a face-to-face chat, a pause or silence during a video call will be perceived negatively. Silence is something natural during a face-to-face interaction. During a video call, however, silence will create anxiety due to concerns over technical mishaps.

A video chat is likely to make you feel watched. Who wants that much attention? That kind of spotlight will probably make you feel the need to overperform, exerting yourself more than you should.

Did you also notice that the video chat apps available will have you looking at yourself on the screen? In most cases, you will feel self-conscious, taking away some of the attention you should be giving to the discussion at hand.

If you still are not convinced that zoom fatigue is real, try selling your product or service via a video chat.

What is the Solution?

Now that you know why zoom meetings always leave you feeling weary, how can you deal with this kind of fatigue or avoid it altogether?

To make the video call experience feel more like a face-to-face chat, Microsoft has introduced the "together mode" feature to help participants feel more at ease and less self-conscious.

The advancement of technology to 5G will also go a long way in getting rid of any lags and unnecessary pauses during virtual communications. People will now have more platform options to choose from, including Virtual Reality (VR).

Facetime can never replace face time. But when face time is a luxury, there are several ways you can make your video chat experience better.

Here are five practical tips to manage zoom fatigue:

1. Avoid Multitasking

Zoom meetings can sometimes get mind-numbing, but trying to solve that by taking breaks that involve even more screens will only leave you with a cognitive pileup. That's a sure ticket to zoom fatigue. So, avoid multitasking during your zoom calls, and don't forget that your phone is another screen too, put it away!

2. Sometimes Audio Calls are Enough

Business woman sitting on the couch and speaking at her phone in front of her lapop

Source: Unsplash

If you can avoid video calls, do it. You can go old school and opt for the less stressful voice calls. During training, for example, you are likely to be more passive. Why not switch off the video mode and only listen? That will give your brain a much-needed zoom break.

3. Reduce Eye Fatigue in Zoom Meetings

After a long zoom meeting, your vision is likely to feel blurry. That's not a good sign unless a vision degeneration is not something that would bother you.

You may not be in a position to avoid the overexposure to the screen, but you can try to:

1. Set your computer light to "Night Light" so that less of the blue light from the screen gets to your eyes. If you have a habit of working late into the night, this setting will help you avoid sleep difficulties that come with long screen exposures.

2. Take breaks. After every 20 minutes of looking at your screen continuously, take 20 seconds break to look at something that's 20 feet away. That's is the 20/20/20 rule.

3. Use a timer. It's easy to get lost in a video chat, be it business or social. Even if you have every intention to apply the 20/20/20 rule, you might forget to. A timer will help you use this rule effectively and avoid potential eye fatigue.

4. Stop Looking at Yourself During Video Calls

To avoid zoom fatigue, try to make Facetime feel as natural as possible.

Looking at yourself when having a conversation with a friend, colleague, or boss is not natural. You don't need the extra distraction, so hide your video during zoom meetings.

Ensure you have had a good look at yourself in the mirror before attending a video call, so you will not feel the need to keep looking at yourself later on.

5. Protect Your Personal Space 

Zoom meetings can be very intimidating since they give you a general feel of the invasion of your personal space by strange people. Naturally, our personal space is a reserve for close family members and friends.

To protect that personal space, always minimize the zoom screen.

Technology is always changing, and Zoom meetings are now a part of our lives. While we may not have the luxury of avoiding them altogether, they don't have to be the most dreaded part of our lives. Until technology offers us something better, we have to try and get the most out of those zoom moments by effectively managing the fatigue that comes with it.