Your alarm goes off at 8am and you sleep-walk your way to your desk. You load up your laptop and begin a long series of Zoom classes. Between each class, you take a small break by Facetiming your friend or playing video games. After class, you do homework on your laptop until dinnertime. Then you crawl in bed with your phone, scrolling through Instagram before you fall asleep and do it all over again the next day. Does this sound like your day? If so, don’t be ashamed, you’re not alone.
“Zoom fatigue” is the latest challenge that students, working parents, and educators are facing in 2020. This concept describes the feeling you get when you’re on your last Zoom meeting of the day or when your eyes just can’t stand looking at a screen for one more second. The problem is, it feels like we can’t help it. When physical school and in-person activities are so limited, screens are often our only way to learn and more importantly, to not feel alone during this isolating time. We all must find a way to balance virtual interaction with time offline.
#1 Build in offline breaks into your daily schedule
This is one of the most obvious yet important tips. Oftentimes, you might have 15 minutes or so between 2 Zoom meetings. Instead of wasting your time on Youtube or scrolling through Twitter, try leaving your screens for just a little while and doing something else. Ideas include: getting a snack (my personal favorite), getting in a quick workout, taking a shower, strolling around the neighborhood, etc.
Of course, we know some of those options don’t always sound good and require a lot of energy that you might not have after a long day. So some options that use your phone but still help you recharge include: closing ur eyes and listening to music, going on a drive while listening to a podcast, or watching your favorite Youtuber who helps you relax.
#2 Use phone calls or emails
Here’s a small but enormously helpful tip: using phone calls or emails instead of Facetimes or Zoom meetings. We’ve all sat in meetings before that felt completely pointless and could have been done over email instead. Well, 2020 is the year we should all commit to actually doing it. A 15 minute meeting going over updates on your school group project can be done much quicker over an email. It’ll save all members of the group from having to put on their “Zoom shirt” or get out of bed.
Socially, it can be really nice to see your friends’ faces over Facetime or Zoom, especially if you haven’t seen them since March. But, for people you Facetime everyday or don’t feel super close to, try suggesting a phone call instead! You still get to have a great conversation, but you don’t have to worry about your appearance. Most of the time, you can take a phone call while closing your eyes in bed!
#3 Reduce distractions during Zoom calls
Lastly, when you are inevitably on your 5th mandatory Zoom class or meeting of the day, try your hardest to limit any distractions or multitasking. It can be super tempting to have social media pulled up or to even feel like you’re doing something productive by working on another assignment. But, countless studies have shown that multitasking actually drains your energy more than anything. What ends up happening is you aren’t able to focus on anything with your maximum capacity and instead feel more burnt out afterwards. Because you’re constantly clicking back and forth between your Zoom meeting and your other assignment, you don’t absorb the meeting information as well AND you complete the assignment much slower.
Of course, we understand that it’s hard to not click around on your laptop, especially if there’s a really boring lecture happening. So we recommend completely quitting all your applications and tabs besides Zoom. Try to take notes by hand instead of taking them on your laptop so you have no reason to ever touch your laptop during the meeting. If you really lack willpower like me, check out extensions on Google that prevent you from using specific websites that you always end up going on. Then, after class, feel proud that you’ve absorbed the lecture to the best of your ability. Take a short break, and then start working on whatever assignment you would’ve tried to do during the meeting. We guarantee you’ll end up being more productive and less burnt out at the end of the day.