Five simple tricks to overcome Zoom burnout

Likelihood of Zoom fatigue is high since many of our personal and leisure interactions also unfold this way.
July 23, 2020

The average person working from home is spending 7 hours a day video conferencing with meetings lasting from 31 minutes to just under an hour.  Here are five simple tricks to overcome Zoom burnout.

Whether you use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting or Google Meet, the medium remains the same. And the likelihood of fatigue is high since many of our personal and leisure interactions also unfold this way. I’ve created a mini Zoom camp to take a deep dive into how we can adapt to the new work-life reality.

The amount of time and attention required to maintain eye contact in a face-to-screen setting is exhausting.  This kind of staring would be impolite in a physical setting.  But on Zoom it is considered proper etiquette.  You are pressured to look bright and alert.  To sit straight and focus solely on the person talking, particularly if it is your boss.  These requirements combined with the way the brain multitasks as your attention shifts from person to person on the screen, make for a depleting workday.

Here are some simple tricks to overcome Zoom burnout:

By now you have set up camp somewhere in your home for video calls.  You have had several months to figure it out, now let us change it.  If you use a green screen, freshen your virtual backgrounds.  Find new images or take your own photos.  Use new colors and themes relevant to your business.  Customize your backgrounds with your logo, slogan, or inspirational quote.    If you use a living set, that is, your normal physical surroundings, mix it up.  Add a new plant or cut flowers.  Change the framed picture on the wall.  Get playful with props and accessories.

1.  Rearrange your home studio

By now you have set up camp somewhere in your home for video calls.  You have had several months to figure it out, now let us change it.  If you use a green screen, freshen your virtual backgrounds.  Find new images or take your own photos.  Use new colors and themes relevant to your business.  Customize your backgrounds with your logo, slogan, or inspirational quote.    If you use a living set, that is, your physical surroundings, mix it up.  Add a new plant or cut flowers.  Change the framed picture on the wall.  Get playful with props and accessories.

2.  Switch devices and locations

There is no need to be tethered to your desk.  If you have other devices, change how you connect and from where.  For example, I move to my living room and do live yoga from my laptop.  I use my tablet for a weekly book club so I can talk from my garden.  If your space and circumstances allow, a little change of scenery can boost your energy.

3.  Get off your butt

Who said you need to be seated for a video conference?  Configure your hardware so you can work standing or leaning on a high stool.  You will breathe better, improve your circulation and project a more energetic demeanor.  Take breaks to walk outside, up and down stairs or wherever your conditions allow.  Just do not sit all day.  

4.  Do some yoga and breathe

You can do simple stretching based on chair yoga poses.  Even a five-minute routine a day can help defog your brain and calm your nervous system.  Breathing is an often overlooked essential for peak performance at your desk.   The primary breathing muscle, the diaphragm, is attached to the rib cage.  When tired the body slumps forward and limits the movement required for full inhalation.  Taking 10 long, deep breaths in and out through your nose with a 5-count inhale and a 7-count exhale will perk you up better than a cup of coffee.

5.  Schedule fewer calls  

At first, most of us flocked to video calls for events that would have happened in person.  After several months, we should stop and question—“Is this Zoom call really necessary?”  Take inventory of your calendar of video meetings and ask yourself if the same could not be accomplished through an email exchange, collaboration hub or audio-only call.  You may find that you are spending more time on-screen than necessary.

For better or for worse, video conferencing is today’s workspace and is likely to remain prominent in the future. While these calls tend to zap our energy, they are an indispensable lifeline and provide much-needed social contact. There is room to strike a balance in the way we use the technology to avoid burnout and restore more joy to how we interact with others.

Rosemary Ravinal

I teach business leaders how to shine on video calls and have more productive virtual engagement. As Founder/Chief Trainer at RMR Communications Consulting, I also help executives master the art of public speaking, inspiring presentations, and authoritative media interviews online and in person. My company’s services are available in English and Spanish in South Florida and elsewhere.

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Let me help you speak, engage, and persuade like a pro in person and online in English and Spanish.

Your success in the new normal of work depends on how well you navigate virtual and in-person communication.

Your success in the new normal of work depends on how well you navigate virtual and in-person communication.

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