Zoom fatigue has been a common theme throughout the past year. The pandemic upended the way many people connect in and out of the office. While Zoom has proven invaluable in maintaining continuity and enabling remote work, it’s also creating conference call burnout in droves.
For better or for worse, Zoom and similar tools aren’t likely to be leaving the workplace anytime soon. This means that you need to find a way to make it work for you, even if you loathe the idea of yet another Zoom call.
Put our best tips into practice so you can get all benefits of Zoom without the burnout:
Stick to an Agenda
A big part of Zoom fatigue comes from the sheer amount of time spent video conferencing with others. One way to reduce this time is to stick to an agenda so your conversations can stay on course.
When you’re the person setting up a Zoom meeting with a client or colleague, figure out what you really need to cover during that time. If your conversation starts going off-book, then you can suggest scheduling a separate meeting to cover those points and keep moving forward. The others in your Zoom meeting will also appreciate this targeted approach so they don’t spend more time than necessary on the call.
If you are attending a Zoom call, ask the coordinator or person in charge for a copy of the meeting agenda. If they have one, you can review it prior to the meeting and jot down any questions or talking points you might want to make. And if they don’t have one, you’ve subtly suggested to them that an agenda might be valuable!
Take Breaks Between Zoom Calls
Ever feel like you’re hanging up on Zoom call just to jump on another? You’re not alone: Zoom has 300 million daily participants. Research has found that 15% of the average person’s workday (about 1.2 hours in an 8-hour day) is spent in meetings. That number jumps to 35% (about 2.8 hours) for middle managers, and roughly 23 hours per week for executives!
When you’re plowing through back-to-back Zoom meetings, you have no time for a physical or mental break. Even with back-to-back in-person meetings, you still have a few minutes in between to switch rooms or use the bathroom. Those same breaks should apply to remote work, too.
The type of break you take matters just as much as taking a break in the first place. When possible, try to schedule breaks in between meetings. Get up, move around, and grab a snack or some water. Go outside for fresh air. Resist looking at your phone since you just spent all that time staring at a Zoom screen.
Aim for Shorter Meetings
We’ve all attended meetings that could have been summarized in an email. Those types of meetings not only lead to Zoom fatigue, but also take away precious time you could have been being productive.
If you’re hosting the meeting, consider whether you really need the meeting in the first place. What do you stand to gain by having real-time conversation or screen sharing?
If you really need a meeting, aim to keep them as short as possible. Make 15-30 minutes your default instead of an hour. Let your attendees know how long you expect the meeting to last. Circling back to the point about agendas, sharing the meeting agenda ahead of time can help get everyone up to speed so you can jump right in.
Focus on the Meeting (and Nothing Else!)
“Oh no, not another Zoom meeting,” you say. So, to alleviate the boredom of attending another on-screen meeting, you occupy yourself with other on-screen activities, checking social media on your phone, or making notes for something else entirely. Yes, it might distract you from the meeting, but it also contributes more to Zoom fatigue than you realize.
What happens is that when you bring other activities into the mix, you are increasing the resources your brain needs to function. Your brain suddenly has more to process, which can kill your focus, energy, and productivity. Not to mention, you might miss something important during the meeting you’re supposed to be focusing on.
A good rule of thumb is to put your phone out of arm’s reach, minimize extra browser and tabs, and focus on the meeting, even during parts that don’t require your attention.
Turn Off Your Camera When Possible
Speaking of giving your brain too much to process, did you know that having your camera on can also cause Zoom fatigue? Even if you’re dialed in to the meeting with no other distractions, the visual element of Zoom can drain your brain of resources. You see yourself in the small window on your screen and become more conscious of how you look. You might even spend more time watching yourself than the other speakers or content being shared in the meeting.
Your camera is often a distraction, so turn it off whenever possible. If your company requires you to be visually present, you can turn off self-view so that you don’t have to watch yourself speak. This can be such a liberating feeling!
Record Your Zoom Meetings
It might sound odd, but recording your Zoom meetings to reference later can be a huge time-saver for all attendees that also helps to reduce Zoom fatigue. Think about it: you spend 30 minutes or an hour in a meeting, but notice you didn’t write down something that might have been helpful in your work moving forward.
Should you organize another meeting? No! Just go back through the recording to the part you think you missed and avoid getting anyone else involved. You can continue in your work and potentially skip having to do an extra Zoom meeting to get caught up.
Zoom meetings are an unavoidable part of today’s remote work environment, but that doesn’t mean they have to drain you of your focus and energy. Use the above tips to combat Zoom fatigue and start getting more value from every meeting!