Tips to Avoid Zoom Fatigue
The pandemic has resulted in a tremendous increase in the time we spend on video conferencing calls and meetings using platforms such as Zoom. The term “Zoom fatigue” has become commonplace; it was coined to describe the exhaustion resulting by constant video calls. Although Zoom is one of the most widely used video conferencing platforms today, the term can also be applied to other platforms as well (such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Meet, and FaceTime).
What causes “Zoom fatigue”?
Video calls require more mental processing power compared to face-to-face interactions. Our brains have to work together to interpret the non-verbal cues that we can rely on in-person, including body language and voice tone. Fatigue can also result from the technical issues and annoyances that often occur during these video conferencing meetings, such as people not muting their microphones and having a lot of excessive background noise, screen delay, or freezing, and other technical problems.
What are some tips to avoid “Zoom fatigue”?
1) Plan Ahead and Shorten Meetings
Lengthy virtual meetings can be tiring and frustrating. The shift to remote learning and virtual work makes it easier to schedule even more calls than before. However, longer meetings do not necessarily mean they are more effective. Some meeting objectives can be achieved in less time if all participants are focused and come to the meeting with a clear agenda. To shorten meetings, set and distribute an agenda to all participants ahead of time. Being well-prepared helps keep the meeting focused and to the point. Keep the discussion on track.
2) Schedule Breaks and Avoid Back-to-Back Meetings
Try to space out your meetings to have breaks in between. Block off at least 15 to 30 minutes in your calendar to avoid having multiple back-to-back Zoom meetings. During break time, stand up and stretch, take a short walk (such as walking the dog), make or grab a cup of coffee, rest your eyes, or use some time away from the screen.
Prior to the recent shift to remote learning, commuting to attend meetings or classes in person created natural and necessary breaks in the day. Replicating those breaks in your online environment can help you avoid days that feel like one long, unvaried task.
3) Use the “20-20-20 Rule” for Your Eyes
Eye strain is common when you look at the computer screen for too long. Zoom calls and other online learning components that require computer use can lead to increased eye strain. Because the rigors of online learning often mean more screen time, it’s important to make sure your eyes get the rest they need.
The “20-20-20 Rule” is: For every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away. Developed by an optometrist in California, this practice can help relax the eye muscles and reduce fatigue.
4) Avoid Multitasking
Our brains already have to work harder to process non-verbal cues and body language during non-face-to-face interactions, so there is no need to add more to the brain’s limited processing capacity. Studies have shown that multitasking can reduce performance by as much as 40%.
Stanford psychologists discovered that multitasking not only affects memory, but it also makes performing simple tasks harder and more taxing. They identified engaging multiple types of media simultaneously as one of the main contributing factors. Removing distractions can help make video conference meetings more productive because you will be more present and feel less fatigued.
5) Reduce Video Calls by Using Emails, Text-Based Communication Platforms, and Cloud-Based Collaboration Tools
Some discussions or certain objectives can be accomplished by using simple, text-based communications such as email, discussion forums, or chat platforms (e.g. Discord, Slack). Not only can this help reduce Zoom fatigue, but it can also be more time-efficient as participants can reply or provide their input at a time that is convenient for them (without having to designate a single time slot when everyone is available).
Cloud-based collaboration tools such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Microsoft Online products can help teams with working collaboratively in the same documents. This is great for planning, brainstorming, editing, proofreading, and more.
6) Replace Video Calls with Recorded Asynchronous Video
A recorded, asynchronous video message can replace a meeting. Tools such as WebEx and Loom have recording options (including screen capture recordings). If you’re looking to kick-off a project, provide a project status update, or walk someone through the steps of doing something on the computer, try a screen recording of your slide deck or capture a webcam video of yourself running through the explanation. You will save your and other participants’ time.
Online learning and remote work aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, which means Zoom fatigue might still be around long after the end of the pandemic. Using the above tips to avoid Zoom fatigue can help you feel more alert and productive in your online courses and projects.
The Best Schools. (2021, April). 6 Tips to Avoid Zoom Fatigue. https://thebestschools.org/magazine/how-to-beat-zoom-fatigue
Vidyard. (2021, March). 10+ Tips to Prevent Zoom Fatigue. https://www.vidyard.com/blog/zoom-fatigue-tips