Zoom meetings and zoom calls have become a part of our lives now. In unprecedented times like these, we are connected to our offices and institutes through Zoom and other video conferencing platforms.
There has been a lot of emphasis on screen time and how to limit it, but during times like these, most of us are left with no other option than sitting for hours on Zoom. When we sit continuously at one place every day, we tend to feel tired and lazy. Zoom fatigue is a real thing, and a massive part of the world is suffering from it.
From students attending online classes to employees working remotely, zoom has become a part of our life.
A close friend of mine who is a teacher and is teaching from home shared her experience with me. She was teaching and finished her lecture over Zoom. As soon as she finished her lecture, she fell asleep on the couch itself. She is a great professor and loves teaching. However, she told me how teaching online is exhausting. She would never feel tired after coming from the university.
Her live classes were loved and appreciated by all. She loved interacting and connecting emotionally with the students. When the COVID-19 pandemic came, everything changed for her. Her teaching was now limited to a virtual space.
She discussed it with other teachers, and all of them felt the same. They started realizing how tired and unhappy Zoom life is. It is like you are emoting extra because you are just a little box on screen.
This fatigue or exhaustion is not limited to Zoom, but also to Google Hangouts, Meet, FaceTime, and Skype. Human communication has been much more than just words. It was never about two people simply talking, but constituted various aspects. For instance, a person’s body language and mannerisms are reflected through his way of communication. These non-verbal interactions meant so much to us. It also prepared us to paint a holistic picture of the tone of the conversation.
How is Zoom Call Different from regular conversation?
A video call is nowhere near real-time communication. Due to the pandemic, we all have been missing the fun of meeting and interacting with our favorite people. A typical video call requires more attention to understand the speaker’s words and intentions.
If someone talks in front of you, you can understand their intention by their actions and body language. However, it is not the case with video calls. Moreover, if the video quality is not good, you might miss details in words or expressions.
There are a lot of people who heavily depend on non-verbal communication, and it is very difficult for them to cope with zoom calls. The problem intensifies, even more, when it’s a multi-person call or meeting.
No matter how hard we try, we can only give partial attention to the video calls. There are many distractions that eliminate our attention. We also start feeling stressed with continuous screen staring. It makes the Zoom meetings less collaborative.
How has Zoom saved education and businesses worldwide?
With the pandemic and uninvited lockdown, everything was shut all of a sudden. No one knew how to run businesses or run education systems. While work and education was important, everyone was confused about how to continue the same during a lockdown.
It was during this time that remote work came into existence. Moreover, platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype were highly helpful to all companies and educational institutes. It was through these platforms that we could continue working and studying amidst a lockdown.
Being an entrepreneur, the initial lockdown time was hard to run our business. However, as we started Zoom meetings, I realized how things have become even more efficient than they earlier were.
For instance, we had to travel long distances to attend company meetings or conferences in different cities or states. It consumed so much of our time and energy. Also, we could not take our entire team with us. Now, we prganize Zoom meets and everyone from the company can be a part of the meeting and understand its nature. Zoom meetings have really changed how things worked.
It is a great platform for companies to carry out the seamless work of the organization. Companies can organize 2-3 meetings per week with people from different places joining it. It saves both the time and money of the company and its employees. Also, the interactions are better and understandable.
Why does zoom make you feel tired?
The critical question here is why zoom calls make you feel tired when all you have to do is sit at home and open your laptop.
As remote work started, people were very happy, especially office employees. They were working from home, and they did not have meetings clogging up their day. They felt life was good back then until they discovered a new type of fatigue, called ‘Zoom fatigue.’
As I said earlier, it is not just zoomed, but all video conferencing platforms that are posing problems. If you’re using any video calling platform a lot, then you tend to feel tired. Here are some reasons why we feel tired of virtual meet-ups.
- You were a no-screen person: We all know so many people who are not much into technology. If you are someone who doesn’t like spending much time on screen, then you’ll start feeling tired within the first few hours of the video call. Most of us were not used to being on video for meetings, it was a new thing for us. From students to employees, we were more inclined towards physical meetings. Now that we have to spend 6-7 hours on the screen to study or work, we might feel anxious and tired.
- Back to Back Calls: Today, most educational institutes are working remotely. All classes are online. Back-to-back lectures make students extra tired. They lose concentration and track of topics while being on screen for so long. Schools and Colleges should provide proper breaks for students to revive energy. Similarly, employees feel super-tired when they have back-to-back work calls. When you are put in a situation, where you have to sit without moving for hours, your body starts feeling tired, making you anxious.
- Virtual Engagement is hard for you: Just like introverts avoid social interactions, there are people who avoid virtual interactions. A person who is not used to engaging with other people via screens and video calls will start feeling tired in some time. You might have the capacity to work on your laptop most of the day, but interacting with people stresses you out. It is another reason for Zoom fatigue.
- Multi-person meetings scare you: Most office meetings and class lectures include many people interacting with each other. When you see so many faces, it makes you anxious. Moreover, you feel like everyone is looking at you, and you need to behave. Everyone has to sit formally to avoid getting noticed, and it gets very tiring at times.
- Fear of Presenting: We all know the struggle of giving a proper presentation during online meetings. Most of the time, the audio and video do not align making things difficult for you. Another major problem is network issues. You might give your best, but someone interrupts saying the sound was not clear. You need to repeat the words, and the anxiety increases even more. You feel tired of repeating and explaining your point.
- Longer Meetings: It has been observed that virtual meetings last longer than regular meetings. It is mostly because of technical glitches and network problems. Many times, things have to be repeated again and again to bring everyone in the loop. Conference room meetings were precise, short, and not tiring.
- Constant Distractions: While we are working from home, we are unable to concentrate as much as we did while being in the office. Be it your kids, husband, or maid, you get distracted constantly. These distractions break your concentration and exhaust your mind. The task that you could have completed in 30 minutes, takes more than an hour while working from home.
All these were some reasons why a person feels more tired during virtual meetings. It might sound simple, but it is really tiring and burns out the brain.
Common Signs of Zoom Fatigue
Now that we know Zoom fatigue is a real thing, much of our tiredness is justified. Not only physically, but zoom calls burn us out emotionally and mentally.
If you feel more tired now than ever, then here are some signs you need to look for.
- You feel tired between work calls. There might even be times when you did not have the energy to call clients or work. You might feel tired and plan on taking a break after every call.
- At the end of the day, you are more exhausted than before. You’ve been working for a long time now, and you know the difference between the two fatigues. If you get more tired now than before, it is probably zoom fatigue.
- You are mentally somewhere else and physically on the call. In fact, most students and employees are daydreaming while sitting in front of the screen. If you find it very hard to pay attention to your meetings, then it is also a sign of zoom fatigue.
- Your eyes dry out with excess screen time. Many people are facing eye problems because of the extended screen time. Strain in eyes or irritation in eyes are common signs of zoom fatigue. However, this irritation or strain should not be pre-existing.
- Headaches have become a lifestyle for you. Most students and workers suffer from headaches and migraines because of sitting in front of screens for long. You should give your health a priority if you suffer from regular headaches.
- You feel exhausted and unhappy throughout the working hours. Work has become a stressful part of the day now. People used to enjoy working and meeting people at the office, but the virtual office leads to a constant feeling of exhaustion.
- Do you feel anxious about turning on your camera? Well, it is another sign of Zoom fatigue. People feel stressed about facing others and sitting in front of the screen.
So, if you are suffering from any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you are probably down to Zoom fatigue.
5 Zoom Fatigue Solutions that Work Extremely Well
If you feel stressed and anxious because of this virtual work environment, then we have some great solutions for you. Zoom fatigue can get to your nerves at times, but we are left with no choice other than to adjust.
Here are some ways in which you can prevent zoom fatigue.
- Avoid Multitasking
Multitasking is a myth. People often believe that multitasking improves efficiency, but it is absolutely wrong. Multitasking not only reduces your productivity but also provides low-grade results. A single task is done with much more efficacy than a bunch of tasks.
One of the reasons why zoom fatigue is more exhausting is because we often multitask while working at home. Most people mute their mics and start working on other tasks. Some people start typing messages on another platform or start doing a household chore. All these activities make you feel more tired.
If you listen to the meeting attentively and dedicate your 100% attention, then you’ll be able to follow up easily without getting lost. It will also save your mind from spending hours recalling what happened in the meeting. When your brain does not divide attention between two or more sources, it won’t feel tired.
So, multitasking is overrated and leaves you more exhausted. You should perform one activity at a time, but with full attention.
- Set a Meeting Time for Yourself
It might sound rude, but it isn’t. There is no harm in agreeing upon an end time to virtual meetings. Most Zoom meetings are overrunning because we’re scared of leaving the meeting first.
So, it is better if everyone gets on the same page and decides an end time for the meetings in advance. You can spare 9-10 A.M for meetings and do not drag it beyond this period.
It might be a challenge initially to run a time limit on meetings. However, as you realize how you need to cover everything in 60 minutes, you become more efficient with managing the meetings. Only the important points will be covered, giving no room to lengthy conversations.
- Do not set back to back calls or lectures
You might like or dislike the idea of back-to-back calls, but you can’t deny it gets exhausting. Be it college lectures or office meetings, sitting in front of screens for a long time is stressful.
If you set breaks between two meetings, then you get enough time to refresh and prepare yourself for the next meeting. Also, you sit with a fresh mind and act more productively. You can take restroom breaks, snack breaks, or a simple meditative break.
You may also limit the number of zoom calls you take per day. Since most people are working from home these days, there are no official call timings. Clients tend to call at any time of the day. However, it is very annoying. You should book Zoom calls according to your work schedule and time slots.
You don’t have to take calls at odd hours just because you are working from home.
- You may shift to phone calls or email
If you are someone who genuinely hates being on screen, then you can talk to your superiors and ask them to exempt you from Zoom meetings. However, you can ask them to contact you through regular phone calls or emails,
Whenever a client sets a Zoom meeting with you, check if you can avoid the meeting by having a conversation over slack or email. At times, you might have Zoom meetings scheduled for evenings. But, you might feel tired or zoomed out about attending the meeting. You can politely ask the client to switch to a phone call or set a meeting for a later time.
Not only you, but the person on the other side will also feel relieved about not attending a video call. You can simply say, “I’m a bit tired of the screen. Would you mind discussing details over the phone?”
- Do not set Zoom meetings with unknown people
I have seen many people who have made video calls a primary mode of communication. However, setting video calls with new prospects, clients, or office workers can be daunting. Many people feel zoom calls are invasive at times.
It is always safe to use phone calls for initial meet-ups, and you may later shift to video calling. If you get video calls from your workplace at odd hours, you can decline them without thinking twice. You may ask through email, text, or a phone call if there’s anything urgent.
No matter how much we hate the new remote work culture, it cannot be avoided. During times like these, you should be grateful for having worked in hand. However, your work should be treated as work and not life. You need to know your boundaries. Burning out and feeling tired the entire day because of excess screen time is unfair. You should always give your mental well-being and physical health a priority over Zoom meetings. Follow these simple zoom fatigue solutions to prevent the problem.