Zoom Fatigue Is Real. 4 Ways To Fight It And Avoid Burnout
Video calls can be draining, too.
Since being in quarantine, our screen time upped to as long as 12 hours per day. Classes, meetings are all being done virtually, but without boundaries, both with time and physical space, to delineate work and home, it’s no surprise that we feel drained and anxious day in and day out.
If you find yourself dreading another Zoom call, or are experiencing more migraine episodes than usual, you might be going through what is called “Zoom fatigue.”
What is Zoom fatigue?
Google searches about “Zoom fatigue” have increased since March 2020, after the whole world was put on hold and everything migrated to the digital landscape. Every day since, we would spend a minimum of 8 hours in front of our laptops and engage in at least one Zoom meeting – sometimes even on weekends.
That feeling of being burnt out and drained may be due to Zoom fatigue, a.k.a. “virtual fatigue”—“The constant use of video conference calls and meetings lead to burnout. This can make it hard to concentrate on tasks and can bring on feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression,” according to Greatist.
Why you feel burnt out
Of course, work-related burnout existed long before COVID-19. However, virtual fatigue blurs the lines between work and life even more.
“Since I started working from home, my boss expects me to always be available,” shares Shara, 26, who started working remotely in June 2020. “I think it’s because we’re at home and our phones can notify us [any time] of the day. Hindi siya katulad ng dati na pag-uwi ko sa bahay, understood na ‘yun na oras na para magpahinga.”
Another exhausting scenario brought about by Zoom calls is the constant need to block out your family. “Kailangan ko sila i-block out every time may meeting or video call. Ang hirap kapag hindi ka naman mag-isa sa bahay,” Shara says. “Lalo na dahil hindi naman lahat may privilege para magkaroon ng sariling kwarto.”
The mere fact that the system expects us to function like everything is “normal” is probably the most draining thing during this time. 24-year-old Lynette says, “Mas madalas ako magkasakit ngayon. Sa pagod, sa worry at anxiety, kulang sa tulog, sa gastos. Nakakapagod.”
Combating Zoom fatigue
Zoom fatigue may feel like a never-ending cycle, but there are ways to fight it. Shara and Lynette share their tried-and-tested techniques in combating Zoom fatigue.
Stick to an outline or agenda.
If you are the one facilitating a meeting, it is best to create an agenda beforehand.
“Sometimes I lead meetings and what I always do is I make an outline or flow before the meeting itself,” explains Shara. “Mas mapapadali buhay mo at ng mga colleagues mo kasi walang unnecessary distractions.”
This also helps your team finish early and allot more time for rest.
Take regular breaks.
We have heard this several times, but it’s easier said than done. However, with helpful tools like browser extensions, we can “force” ourselves to take frequent breaks.
“Make use of technology! There are Google Chrome extensions that remind you to take breaks and drink water,” says Lynette. “I personally use the ‘Take a Break Reminder’.”
This Chrome Extension lets you input the number of minutes you have to work, and how long you want your break to be. If you use your laptop (almost) all day, installing this browser extension can help you take much-needed breaks, especially if you often forget it.
Utilize emails and voice calls.
It’s simple: if it can be discussed through email, why schedule a meeting?
“It’s a waste of time to meet about something that can be talked about through email or voice calls. If it’s a simple topic, type it down,” says Lynette. “There’s a reason emails exist.”
In the digital age, we are used to watching a video, replying to group chats, and scrolling through Instagram in a span of thirty seconds. We are able to multi-task because every single thing we have to accomplish can be done in a few clicks. However, multi-tasking can also make you feel drained.
“I was a multi-tasker before, kaso pakiramdam ko para akong nakikipaghabulan lagi,” Shara says. “Kapag nag-mu-multi-task ka, mahirap mag-focus sa ibang bagay. For example, when you’re in a meeting tapos kailangan mo din mag-reply sa colleague mo, hindi mo na mapakikinggan ‘yung sinasabi sa meeting mo.”
An article by Harvard Business Review says, “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. Researchers at Stanford found that people who multitask can’t remember things as well as their more singularly focused peers.”
So the next time you’re on a video call, close all the other tabs on your browser (and maybe in your head, too).