Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, millions of people have transitioned to working from home full-time. With so many people working remotely, virtual meetings and video conferencing have become the new norm. The video conferencing giant Zoom announced that it had over 300 million daily Zoom meeting participants in April.
If you’ve been dialing into video conference calls lately, you know surprisingly how exhausting they can be. You may even find yourself dealing with virtual meeting burnout, where you feel drained and unproductive because of your meetings.
If that’s the case, here are five tips for conquering video conference fatigue.
1. Use video conferencing as a last resort
With so many people working and learning remotely, some employees and students are worried about getting enough facetime with the administrators and professors, or the perception that they aren’t working from home. To compensate, they schedule video meetings to prove that they’re working during normal business hours, even when a video meeting may not be the most efficient use of time.
Using video meetings for all your interactions can be draining and can even reduce overall productivity. If possible, try to use other methods of communication first. For many projects and tasks, you may accomplish your goals with email, Slack messages, or a simple phone call. If you need input from multiple people or need to present a proposal, then a video conference call may be appropriate. Try to make video conferences the exception rather than the rule.
2. Set boundaries
When you work or study from home, it’s easy for your work and personal lives to blur. But you need to be diligent about maintaining boundaries. Otherwise, you’ll quickly get burned out and exhausted.
When scheduling meetings and classes, make sure you build in buffer time between meetings to give yourself time to stretch, get a snack, and take a quick break before you have to get back into professional mode. Staying “on” for the camera can be grueling, and you’ll need that breather.
3. Change your location (and your position)
When you’re working and taking meetings and classes from home, you’ll spend all day in the same position. At the end of the day, you’ll feel drained and sore.
To help stay energized and focused, try to change your location and position throughout the day. If possible, try to stand during video calls. If you don’t need to be on camera, you can even go for a walk during your calls, which can get your blood flowing and boost your energy mid-day.
Even just taking your calls in a different room or sitting outside can make a big difference in your mood.
4. Take notes
During video calls, it’s tempting to try and multitask. Whether you answer emails, check social media, or try to finish up a last-minute task, it’s common to juggle a few different tasks while in a meeting. However, multitasking during meetings and classes is counterproductive. You’ll be distracted, less prepared to contribute, and you may miss valuable information.
During your meetings and classes, close all other tabs and focus solely on what’s at hand. If you have trouble staying focused, try taking notes. Even if you never reference them again, just the act of writing them down can help you pay attention and remember critical information.
5. Give yourself some grace
These truly are unprecedented times. If you’ve had to shift your work or school to a remote environment and are adjusting to virtual classes and meetings, be kind to yourself; it’s a huge transition. You likely miss your old routine, the camaraderie of the classroom, office, and in-person interactions. Getting used to virtual classes and meetings can be a real challenge. Give yourself some grace and understand that everyone is struggling to adapt right now and that it will get easier over time.