Suffering from Zoom Fatigue? Read This (For a Better 2021)
Named after the Silicon Valley start-up that shot to face amidst the pandemic, “Zoom fatigue” describes the exhaustion one faces due to the over usage of video conferencing platforms (not just Zoom) - and it is very much real.
If you haven’t made a 2021 resolutions list yet, inculcating good habits to minimise zoom fatigue should definitely be on it. Here, we’ll guide you through why it is important to manage zoom fatigue, and what you can do about it.
But first, it is imperative to understand why Zoom fatigue even occurs in the first place.
WHY DOES ZOOM FATIGUE OCCUR?
THAT AWKWARD SILENCE
The resounding silence due to transmission delays or the ability to mute our mics is one for starters. Devoid of the usual hums from fellow colleagues or even white noise that one may hear in a face to face meeting, silence is apparent in video meetings. Research has shown that we tend to associate silence to awkwardness, which affects the speaker negatively, almost as if we were talking into a void.
THE SPOTLIGHT EFFECT
The “Spotlight Effect” is also apparent during such calls. It is just as it sounds - we feel as though we are being noticed more than we actually are. Since the camera function provides a mirror-like view, we become hyperaware of our appearances and actions.
Ultimately, that leads to the need to put on a show (such as continuously adjusting your hair during a bad hair day, yikes!) In actual fact, other participants are less likely to notice changes in your appearance. By putting up a show, even at home, it undeniably strains the mind through causing unnecessary stress.
Not to mention, the occasional terrible mic quality and that screeching audio feedback that just makes our head hurt. The demanding screen time from work and video calls to top it causes migraines as well.
THE URGE TO MULTITASK
Ever caught yourself tab-surfing? Getting distracted by notifications, answering emails and even playing a simple game on the phone messes our brain. We are simply not wired to multi-task! Not only is it unproductive, but it also strains our mental resources as our brain has to constantly refocus and juggle multiple tasks.
SO WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT ZOOM FATIGUE?
Well, apart from the physical discomfort, Zoom fatigue can lead to long term burn-out. This means feelings of stress, exhaustion and increasing cynicism towards your job. It can make even the smallest duties that you once breezed through seem like a mammoth task.
Burnout affects an employee’s performance at work, resulting in lower productivity and is a hindrance to your career progression. Zoom fatigue also causes stress on both physical and mental health, which are equally important.
HOW TO REDUCE ZOOM FATIGUE
Despite the new year, we are reminded that the pandemic is not bounded by time. If only it disappeared when the clock struck 12 on the 1st of January... oh well.
With working from home becoming the “new normal” and the rekindled recognition of the remote work model, video conferencing is here to stay.
So, here are some tips to help you combat zoom fatigue:
1. CULTIVATING GOOD HABITS
Avoid multitasking. To prevent the urge to do so, close all tabs and turn off notifications from unnecessary apps. Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode.
Take frequent eye breaks. The 20-20-20 rule is one that many ophthalmologists recommend. It goes like this:
Every 20 Minutes,
Look at something 20 feet away (6 metres)
For 20 Seconds
Picture from Freepix
Fear of looking disinterested in the meeting? Don’t fret. It could seem like you are deep in thought! (Or you could pretend that you heard a knock on the door).
Remember to move around too! A 5-minute stretching exercise is a worthy fitness activity to consider.
A.K.A the arrangement of workspaces according to a user’s needs to boost productivity and efficiency. From adjusting your posture such that the top of the monitor is at eye-level, to getting an adjustable desk, the possibilities are endless.
Source: Netflix's "Start-up"
Small changes in ergonomics such as maintaining a proper sitting posture can have huge benefits, so much as increasing productivity by 11%.
3. ADJUSTING TECHNOLOGY
Luckily for us, video conferencing platforms come with many settings and controls which can be customised to our preference. Most of such settings are found under “Advanced Settings”.
For example, Zoom has an Active Speaker View and Gallery View in Zoom.
Active Speaker View: Displays only the faces of whoever is presenting at that particular point in time
Gallery View: Shows up to 49 other attendees on a single screen
Tired of seeing only your boss' face? Try using Gallery View instead to see more participants and their reactions!
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Zoom also has a feature that allows you to hide your own camera, which can solve the “Spotlight Effect” as mentioned above.
Did you know that there are extensions to reduce background noises as well?
Tailoring your video conferences to suit you best would greatly reduce the fatigue you feel and ease your meetings, allowing you to feel more comfortable.
4. MODERATING SCREEN TIME
Limit your screen time. It may be tempting to use video conferences for every meeting under the sun since it has become the norm. As much as possible, video conferencing should be limited to work and essential classes.
This year, challenge yourself to say “no” instead of succumbing to peer pressure. If you are a team manager, consider making turning on the face camera optional, particularly for meetings that only require listening.
Meetings that can be done over phone calls should be communicated in that manner. Other communication methods such as Slack are great tools to keep connected as well!
5. PROPER SCHEDULING
Try to schedule your meetings with at least a 10-minute break in between. This gives ample time for you to walk around, have a water break, relax your eyes and gives your brain breathing space.
Find out what schedule suits you the best. Some prefer to have back-to-back meetings planned in the day and the dreaded mid-afternoons would be delegated to work that can be done alone.
6. TAKING UP A NEW HOBBY
This would probably be in everyone’s 2021 resolution list. Be it reading more books, trying out meditation or knitting, hobbies serve as a respite from the endless calls. Reward yourself from a hard week of work by allowing yourself to relax during a designated time. Feelings of burn-out would then be less of an issue.
Ideally, these hobbies should not require you to stare at the screen as well!
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