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A Year Later…How To Continue Combatting Zoom Fatigue

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone was so excited by the prospect of working from home. You were happy not to have to face your daily commute or pay for the gas. As an added bonus, you could roll out of bed every morning and work in your pajamas. What’s not to love?

Now, here it is a year later, and you’re still working from home. The novelty of holding meetings over Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and video has worn off. It’s a struggle to stay engaged during these calls and get the information you need to do your job.

Here are a few ways to combat Zoom fatigue whether you’re in charge of the meeting or only participating in one:

1. Create an Agenda and Set a Timer

Anyone who has ever attended a business meeting in-person or over Zoom knows that it’s easy to run over the allotted time. This can cause the attendees to lose focus, and it isn’t productive.

If you’re leading a virtual meeting, create an agenda and assign each topic a set amount of talking time. During the meeting, it can be helpful to set a timer and give a one-minute warning before the time is up. Move on to the next topic even if the current one isn’t resolved. You can always schedule follow up meetings if necessary.

Practice makes perfect, and over time your team will become accustomed to staying on topic and within the time limit. When your virtual meetings don’t run over, it’s easier to keep everyone engaged and productive.

2. Schedule Breaks

In the modern world, everyone is used to multitasking, sending texts, checking their email, and watching a Tik-Tok video all at the same time. However, during a meeting, you need to remain focused and engaged on the topic at hand.

If you’re leading a longer virtual meeting, it’s a good idea to schedule breaks. You might consider adding a five-minute break if your team seems to be distracted or disengaged. There’s no need to log off the video conference, just take a few minutes to let everyone get coffee, or go to the restroom. When everyone sits back down, they’ll be refreshed and better able to focus on the meeting.

3. Reduce Stimuli

The brain is a funny instrument. During a video call with multiple people, there are numerous rooms open for your brain to explore. It’ll notice Sharon’s cat playing with a ball of string in the background or Bob’s extensive collection of football trophies even if you don’t consciously notice them.

All of these stimuli can overwhelm you and leave you unable to concentrate. To help others, you might consider setting up your computer so the only thing behind you is a blank wall – or even considering using a preset background to remove distractions.

4. Turn Off Video

If you’re like almost everyone else, you’ve fallen into the routine of video conferencing for almost every type of meeting. The fact of the matter is, you don’t need to use video for each and every meeting. Consider phoning without a video component.

A phone call helps you recharge from all the video meetings while still accomplishing the essential tasks. It’s a good idea to go through your current rosters of meetings or interactions and determine the ones that are easily accomplished with a phone call or email instead of a video call.

5. Set a Positive Tone

This is especially important if you’re the person leading a meeting. It’s easy to wallow in the negative. The pandemic has forced most companies to rethink the way they do business, and you can choose to reminisce about the way things were or see it as a positive new challenge.

Instead of saying, “I know this is a lot of work, but we need to do it,” you could try saying something, such as, “we have a great opportunity to shine and show off our skills. I know we can do this.”

Even if you aren’t the one leading the meeting, you can set a positive tone by interjecting uplifting thinking and comments. Positivity is contagious and will help everyone feel better and more energized. This makes it easier for everyone to look forward to and remain engaged in your next meeting.

6. Dress Up

It’s tempting when you’re working from home to wear your nicest pajamas or only dress from the waist up for a video call. However, if you take the time to dress professionally, do your hair, and groom yourself like you’re going to an in-person meeting with a VIP client, you’ll find yourself in that mindset.

When you look your best, you feel your best. It’s a cliché, but it works. By taking the time to get ready for the video meeting and dressing up, you’re building excitement within yourself for the meeting, and you’ll be more focused in the long run.

7. Just Say No

Many companies are attempting to recreate the water cooler chit-chat and drinks after work, and the teamwork they build, by having social video calls. It might be drinks and a visit or dinner together over a video call in the evening.

You can and should say no to these social events if you’re burning out from all the video calls. Take a break and enjoy some downtime away from your co-workers. You’ll feel more prepared and energized for the next important video conference.

Zoom fatigue is a real thing. With a little thought and planning, you can combat it and return to productivity.


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