How to Manage Video Conference Fatigue
By Hina Khan, Success Coach and registered psychotherapist
You get up and have exactly 10 minutes until that important meeting, and you’re still in your pajamas. But there’s no rush, because like most people these pandemic days, you’re video conferencing. Whether it’s a work meeting or catching up with family or friends, video calls are where it’s at. While Zoom is the most popular and most established, many people are also using Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and plenty of other platforms to get their work done.
The problem is the fatigue that comes from how many video conferences we’re now having in a day. So, what to do?
Here are some of the main reasons why you may be burning out, as well as a few ways to manage them so that you can come to all of your meetings feeling fresh, engaged, and fully present:
Lack of Transition time
If you normally work outside the home, you are probably used to the sacred down times between meetings and work in general. Coffee breaks, moving to another part of the building or office, and your commute to and from work are all transitions that give you pauses between business dealings. When you work from home and are booked in back-to-back meetings all day, you don’t get that important down time.
TIP: Allow yourself some buffer between meetings. Even ten minutes can give you time to walk around, step outside, grab a coffee, etc. Make sure you actually do it by scheduling the time into your calendar.
You’re Using the Same Tool All Day
When you are using the same video conference platform for both personal and professional uses, you don’t get that discernment between work time and leisure time. When you aren’t able to delineate between the two, it can feel like you’re on it non-stop.
TIP: Take the laptop or phone to another room or part of the house. Make a clear distinction between your work mode and your play mode. Also, try switching up your platforms once in a while so you’re not using the same tool for work and socializing.
You’re Sitting in the Same Position
In-person meetings will have people moving around in their seats, leaning over for their cups, or taking down notes. But, when you’re video conferencing, you are holding your head and body in the same position for a long period of time which can be physically and mentally tiring.
TIP: Alternate between sitting and standing in your different video meetings. If you can, turn your screen off for a few minutes to give yourself the chance to stretch or walk around for a bit to refresh yourself.
With the increase in video meetings for both personal and work, we are increasing our overall screen time. And with that, our eyes are fixed on one area for great lengths of time. Your eyes will be more apt to dry out, getting irritated and tired. And, when you have tired eyes, you feel more fatigued overall.
TIP: Reduce eye strain by adopting the “20-20-20” technique: For every 20 minutes staring at the same screen, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away. Set a timer or reminder in your calendar until it becomes a habit.
Home and Office Are the Same
Our homes are now substituting as our gyms, social hangouts, work spaces, and other away-from-home places we would normally go to. When the lines get blurred and there’s no clear division between all of these areas, there is also no mental transition. When the sense of space has shifted, it affects your physical and emotional energy.
TIP: Establish boundaries such as using the dining table for work only until 5 p.m. Cover that desk in your bedroom with a sheet so you don’t have to look at it on the weekends. Create “tech-free” zones whenever possible, or change the tech that you use so there is a clear indication that you are now in work mode or play mode. When possible, remove tech from family time, or if you’re catching up with loved ones, use your tablet or phone instead. Similarly, store weights, games, and other personal / family items away during work hours to reduce distractions.
We are often seduced into doing several things at once, to be more efficient and effective with our time. This has done us well in our business and personal lives. In that same spirit, we also find ourselves trying to get other things done (on the sly) while on video calls. While tempting, avoid paying your bills, finishing up emails, scrolling through social media, or ordering products online while in that video conference. When you try to juggle too many things at once, you mentally stretch yourself thin.
TIP: Close all other tabs. Stay present and focused. Come prepared to your meeting. You will feel more energized and accomplished!
Constantly Staring at Yourself (or Others)
Our brains are used to seeing everyone in a meeting as a whole. But when you’re in a video meeting and each person is in a separate box, including yourself, it’s like trying to watch ten or fifteen mini-TVs at once. We aren’t used to staring at our own image for that long and it can be jarring to see yourself so much!
TIP: Change the view on your video settings to speaker mode. When the only person you see is the person who is currently talking, it will be far less distracting and over stimulating.
It will be some time before things revert back to pre-COVID-19 times and until then, you are going to be a part of many online video meetings. If you can apply some or all of these tips, you’ll find that you’re more energized, productive, and engaged at your meetings and in your overall day!
Hina Khan is a Success Coach and registered psychotherapist who has been a student of the mind, human behaviour, and human potential for over a decade. Hina guides and mentors people to work through seemingly unbreakable barriers, whether it is creating quantum leaps in their business or exceeding personal goals. She believes coaching is a powerful tool for change as one aligns with their purpose, vision and goals, allowing them to have mastery in both their personal and professional lives. She has trained extensively with her mentor Bob Proctor and is one of the top consultants for the successful “Thinking Into Results” program. Her extensive training at the distinguished Centre for Training in Psychotherapy anchors her coaching expertise. Hina is also a familiar face on television and is called on as an expert for a number of programs.