“Zoom fatigue:” it’s real. We all know that frustrating exhaustion that hits at the end of a long video call (or maybe even in the middle), making you feel like you just put your personality in a blender and forgot it was there for the last hour or two.
If video calls are making you exhausted more than usual then you might be falling prey to Zoom fatigue, the mental exhaustion associated with online video conferencing. Now that so many of us are working from home full-time, this exhausting phenomenon is getting its due recognition—but so are tips for avoiding it. Here are our three suggestions for maintaining your sanity while spending your days on endless video calls.

1. Stop staring at yourself

Looking at your own face in a video call can be stressful. We all make weird faces throughout the day—something that we don’t often think about in real life. In virtual life, however, especially when calls are recorded, you’re privy to every bad angle and funny face that you make throughout the day. This unwanted knowledge, especially in real-time, is distracting and can ultimately make you want to avoid video calls—even though video calls are often a much more effective communication channel than phone calls or instant messaging.

You might be tempted to turn off your camera, but wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of a video call? Instead, an easy fix for this in Zoom is to select “Hide Myself.” Using this feature, you can hide your window from yourself while still allowing other participants to see your hopefully-attentive face.

2. Be present in conversations

There’s no such thing as multitasking. When you’re working on two (or more) things at once, none of them are getting your full attention. Plus, do you want to be that jerk on the video call who’s click-clacking on the keyboard while everyone else is contributing?

Yes, calls take time. Yes, we don’t have endless hours in the day. But these calls are (hopefully) important, so force yourself to be active in these conversations. 

If you find your meetings to be too long, try to communicate that to your partners. Chances are if you feel that way, they do too. There’s no harm in raising the flag and suggesting ways to shorten meetings, like:

  • Coming prepared with an agenda
  • Cutting down participants to the bare minimum
  • Planning shorter meetings more frequently (for example, shifting hour-long monthly calls to fifteen-minute weekly standups)

3. It’s time to take a break from video calls

Let’s be honest. Between you and me: are all these calls necessary?

If you notice meeting creep, where meetings end with plans for more meetings and your days melt into endless on-cameras, raise the flag! Your time is as valuable as everyone else’s. If you need to cool it on calls, say so. While calls are invaluable for some things, like delicate talks, loads of everyday conversations can be communicated effectively over email or Slack/Teams.

When your days are filled up with calls you can fall into the trap of context switching, when you start to try to frantically finish assignments between meetings and end up not doing anything efficiently. To stay focused, block off certain days or hours for video calls, and save the rest for heads-down work. This way you can take meetings without thinking about all the work you should be doing, and you can do your work without dreading that meeting coming up.

Take control of your time

Don’t let the days bleed into one while you’re on endless video calls. 

Take your time back. Get to know yourself and your needs and don’t be afraid to share them with your team. Your honesty will inspire others to take back their time, too. Build the workplace you want to be a part of!

Shayna Hodkin

From Shayna Hodkin

Shayna lives in south Tel Aviv with two dogs and a lot of plants. She writes poems and reads tarot.