How to Avoid Zoom (Video) Fatigue

With everyone hunkered down and working from home, the adoption of video meetings (aka Zoom meetings) to stay connected, both professionally and personally is at a historic high.  And while we are more connected than ever before, a new syndrome has surfaced which many are calling Zoom Fatigue.   Multiple video calls in a day, often back to back, can leave you drained physically and mentally.

Good News!

The good news is that with some careful planning and a few simple changes, you can spare yourself from fatigue and overwhelm and still show up for your video meetings.  Here are answers to the most common FAQ’s to help guide you through.

 

Planning

 

My meetings tend to be scheduled back to back and I find myself exhausted at the end of the day. How can I avoid feeling overwhelmed?

 
The best thing to do is to plan your meetings so that they are not back to back to back.   It’s best if you can schedule your meetings to be 30 – 45 minutes maximum with at least a 15-minute break in between each meeting.  You need time to recover, switch gears and plan for the next meeting.

You can also chunk your day so that you plan your meetings at certain times of the day, allowing you to have longer periods of work for quiet solo work such as writing reports, emails, creative work, etc.  Jumping back and forth between quiet work and video calls is highly disruptive and doesn’t allow you to function at your best in either realm.

Last but not least, if your team uses group calendars, block off time that you need for quiet work or want to mark yourself off as unavailable so that you maintain control over your time and meeting planning.
 

Technology

 

Are there technology hacks that can help me be less fatigued?

 
Absolutely.  One of the first things to do is learn how to switch from continuous presence display (Hollywood Squares / Brady Bunch tile screen display) to what is called Voice Switch or presenter mode so you see and focus on the person who is speaking.  This will be much less tiring to your eyes.

It is also really important to get your audio needs sorted out.  Will you do your calls on a speaker?  Headphones?  Can you hear the other people on the call?  Can they hear you?  Do you need privacy?  Do you know how to work with your devices?

Play with contrast settings on your screen so that the video display is sharp and feels easy on the eyes.  Whether you use Zoom, Google Video Chat, Blue Jeans, Ring Central, Webex, etc., get to know the features that are available to you which include (but are not limited to):

  • Speaker display (continues vs voice switch)
  • Audio controls
  • Muting and unmuting options
  • Screen Share
  • Chatting

 

Ergonomics

 

How should I set myself up to avoid back and neck strain?

 
It is best to set up your screen so that it is at eye level and directly in front of you.  The exception is if you wear progressive if bi-focal glasses, then you’ll want to place your screen low enough that you can comfortably see out of the lower portion of your lenses.

Place your keyboard and mouse directly in front of you, within close reach and at or slightly below your elbows.

And of course, mind your posture without being too stiff and rigid.

My eyes get really tired and sometimes I get headaches.  Any advice?

 
Yes!  Eye fatigue is very real and can be exacerbated by long periods of time on your screen.  In fact, your blink rate goes significantly down when you stare at your screen (as much as a 66% drop).  Even if on a video call, adopt the 20-20-20 rule.  Every 20 minutes, look away for 20 seconds, at least 20 feet away.  Having everyone on voice-switch mode helps to do that, since others can’t see you when you are not speaking.

Lighting is also very important.  There’s lighting to help you look your best on camera, but there’s also lighting needs to help you combat eye fatigue.  It is best to site perpendicular to a window, avoid glare on your screen and having your screen contrast, too bright for the lighting in the room.   You can also protect yourself from the emission of blue light on your screen with a blue light filter for your screen or blue light glasses or filters for prescription glasses.

How can I avoid getting ear fatigue during my video meetings?

 
The first strategy to embrace is limiting your calls to 30 – 45 minutes with breaks in between.  Along with your eyes, neck, back and mind needing a break, your ears need one too.

If your situation allows, you can use a microphone speaker that allows the others on the call to hear you and for you to be able to hear them.  If you opt for headphones, it is best to avoid earbuds.  Instead, use over the ear headphones with a noise canceling feature.

Monitor your volume levels.  It is best to set your volume levels between 60 and 85 decibels.  If you are straining to hear others due to poor sound quality, you can politely ask them to dial in for their audio if their computer audio is an issue.

We’d love to hear from you and how you are planning your day and setting yourself up during video meetings to feel and function at your best.

Until the next time!

 

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