Working from home may have sounded like a dream once upon a time (and it still has its perks!), but if you’re anything like us, we leave “the office” each day feeling completely exhausted. Sure, the added stress and uncertainty of today’s world certainly play a part, but so does everyone’s favorite video conferencing platform.
Zoom Makes Us Tired
You’re not making it up, you really do get more tired from video meetings than from their in-person equivalents. But why? The answer lies in the way our brains process information, and hits a couple factors.
When you’re in an in-person meeting, everyone shares the same space, making it easy to drown out background settings and noises, but on a video call our brains are working overtime to process the background information we’re seeing behind everyone, and trying to pinpoint what that weird painting is (or where that adorable dog yelp came from).
Additionally because we can see everyone’s face on one screen vs. taking a moment to look around the room at each person individually, we’re also trying to make sense of everyone’s facial expressions at once to gauge interest, confusion, or simply an understanding of the information conveyed which uses a lot of brain power.
Then comes the all-important concept of looking like we’re paying attention (we actually are, we promise!) but it’s increasingly difficult to convey interest over Zoom than in an in-person meeting. We don’t have the luxury of looking away in thought or looking down to take notes, Zoom makes us feel like we have to be staring straight at the camera the entire time to ensure no one thinks we’re slacking off, and that’s exhausting!
Now, on to what you can do about it
1. Try not to have back-to-back video calls
Your brain needs a break from processing so much information at once so try to spread your calls out through the day.
2. It doesn’t always have to be a video call
Just like everyone’s favorite meetings that could have been an email, some video calls can just be regular ol’ phone calls. Processing info verbally is less taxing than trying to process both audio and visual cues.
3. Take a day off
You’re gonna have to take your PTO up with your boss but we mean a day off of Zoom. Between work and virtual family reunions and happy hours it can feel like we’re on video calls all day, every day. Do yourself a favor and skip a day.
4. Rest Your Eyes
You may be fighting your instincts but it’s okay to look away for a few moments. Give your brain a rest and take a peek out the window or around the room, just something non-screen related and further than a foot in front of your face.
5. Incorporate Breaks
You wouldn’t have a 2-hour in-person meeting without allocating time for breaks would you? Well, the same humanly rules apply to video calls. If you’re on a lengthy call, give people time to grab a water, stretch their legs or for Pete’s sake (literally), use the bathroom!