Here’s Why and What To Do.
Zoom burnout is real, but with remote work becoming more prevalent than ever, it’s here to stay.
Paying attention is more important than ever in a virtual meeting and that can be draining. Unlike meeting in-person, you can’t rely on a quick whisper from the colleague next to you if you get distracted.
In order to appear engaged in the meeting, we tend to look at the camera. It can feel as though we’re standing up close to a person and staring at their face. Awkward, right? Also, tiring. In a traditional meeting, our eyes don’t have to constantly be trained on the speaker in order to indicate that we’re paying attention.
Seeing yourself on screen in real time is both fatiguing and unnatural. Imagine being in an in-person meeting with a mirror in front of you!
Remote meetings present an extra challenge for those who share their space with children, partners, pets, etc. Being present at home does not always mean you can be available. It can be difficult to set and enforce those boundaries.
While there are several reasons why Zoom burnout is happening, but there are things you can do to stop it in its tracks.
Stay Structured. Like traditional meetings, Zoom meetings can eat time. But more than that, they can be tiring. In larger Zoom meetings, you may have to take in a lot of information. Plus, you have to pay attention to a screen and everyone on it. This can quickly lead to information overload, which can then turn into burnout. Small Zoom meetings can be just as disruptive, especially to the productive flow of your day. So, like traditional meetings, if it can be an e-mail, make it an e-mail.
Stay On Track. Strive to keep meetings succinct. If you’re hosting a Zoom meeting, it’s your job to keep things on topic. If it goes off the rails and you can’t get it back, this disrupts everyone’s day, including yours. Disruptions are hard to come back from and seriously hurt productivity, which leads to burnout.
Stay Focused. As tempting as it may be, avoid multitasking during Zoom calls. It’s easy to think we can make better use of our time by catching up on simple tasks like answering quick emails or texts during these meetings. The truth is, we’re not giving adequate focus to either activity and are less likely to remember the content of the meeting. So, close other tabs on your browser and give yourself “permission” to hold off those other tasks until after the call.
A recent Stanford University study suggests that our brains can perceive artificially close face-to-face contact that happens over Zoom meetings as high intensity situations. In order to regain the perception of “personal space,” consider changing you settings to take Zoom out of full screen view. Using an external keyboard can also help give you some distance from the screen. For longer meetings, turning off your screen periodically to give you a break from nonverbal communication.
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