- Cheong Chee Foong
Lifehacks: How to beat Zoom fatigue
“Okay class, I’ll be sending you to your breakout rooms now.”
That familiar, unnerving sense of dread begins to seep into your very bones while staring at the loading sign. The connection establishes...and you widen your eyes when you see someone with a camera on!
Before you can even begin to start a revolution, that person too fades into the darkness.
An awkward silence draws out, and a deep sigh inadvertently escapes from your lips. You’re about to speak, but someone else does so at the same time.
In the end, you both decide to say nothing.
After a series of conversational starts and stops, the discussion goes on decently...until the accursed timer flashes across your screen. Soon enough, you’re thrust back into the lecture, where another hour of monologue passes. You check your schedule, and realize there's an hour left. There's a group project meeting arranged after that.
You’re at the end of your rope. You’re tempted to use it, lasso away and escape. But you can’t.
The only thing you can do, is enjoy Zoom fatigue.
So why are zoom meetings so draining? Many reasons. Through a screen, many visual clues are missed, so our brains enter overdrive to make up for it. Extroverts lose the social energy which physical meetings offer, and being spotlighted is an introvert’s taxing nightmare.
Whatever the case, we all want to rid ourselves of this issue, especially since the pandemic doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
So the question is…how?
1. Plan out a clear agenda
It’s not uncommon for meetings in real life to drag on. Toss in an online setting, a sprinkle of technical difficulties, and a dash of drawn-out silences? It’s little wonder why Zoom fatigue sinks in.
To prevent our groups from fumbling around, set clear agendas at the beginning of each meeting. Better yet, plan the agenda of future meetings from the very first one. Not vague mutterings, but specific milestones with fixed deadlines to provide clear direction for every single meeting which follows.
Keeping to a set, scheduled time encourages everyone to follow the agenda and focus. Better yet, it provides an exact time we can look forward to having a break. Speaking of…
2. Have a break. Have a Kit Kat.
This seems like a no brainer, until you realize you’ve been scrolling your Instagram feed for the past 5 minutes of your break. A large part of zoom fatigue isn’t just because of work. Simply staring at screens for extended durations can strain our eyes.
So why not get some shut eye, or do something relaxing? Take a 20-minute power nap. Listen to Iofi beats. Hug your dog. Anything that doesn’t emit blue light.
If hectic schedules don’t allow for many breaks, even just standing up and moving around is better than nothing.
Screen-Free Time is crucial.
3. Change your environment
Previously, people would have to move around to different venues for meetings, lectures, and tutorials. We travel back and forth from school and home, or at least a dorm. With online semesters however, we’re basically stuck in one place. Free time feels no different from work.
That's why we need to move about every now and then. The act of just travelling to another location for work gives our mind and body a sense of change.
Of course, there’s physical impediments as well: maybe someone’s on a phone call; your sibling’s BTS playlist is on full blast; the newest season of Brooklyn 99 playing in the background and you want to watch, but a 3000 word essay is staring you in the face.
Not all of us are fortunate to have comfortable or conducive home environments.
Consider going to the library to escape any and all distractions. Arrange a study session at a friend’s place. Maybe even rent one of those study rooms if it’s feasible.
4. Stop multitasking
Let’s admit it. During a meeting or two, we switch tabs, or take a quick peek at our phone. Halfway through work, we think watching a YouTube video or two wouldn’t hurt.
The truth is…multi-tasking is a lie. Doing multiple things at once just means your attention is divided and your best foot isn’t put forward.
You don’t need research from a little place called Stanford to understand that multitasking is unproductive and kills performance. We know it isn’t good to divide our mental resources, but in the comfort of our home, away from prying eyes, we don't really care.
Still, try focusing on just one thing at a time once. You’d find that with a singular focus, exhaustion might not come as quickly. More likely than not, you’d absorb the material more efficiently, and produce better work.
5. Fewer zoom meetings = Less zoom fatigue.
Such advice seems so obvious that we miss it. But in reality? It’s easier said than done. Certain projects demand many meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page. Yet, having too many meetings may turn out to be counterproductive.
Ask yourself whether a meeting can be replaced by a telegram message or Google doc comment. Maybe try asynchronous work to allow for more flexibility and remove the need for constant meetings.
You'd surprised by how much more can be accomplished with less.
Zoom fatigue is a problem that’s here to stay. Regardless of the number of COVID-19 cases and vaccination rates, an aspect of our way of life and work has been irreversibly changed.
Learning how to adapt to it might be wise to tackle whatever comes our way in the future.
It's also a new phenomenon everyone’s dealing with. So take solace in the fact you aren’t alone in it. Seek help if needed, be it in terms of emotional or academic support. Help each other in the same way.
And stay safe.