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The Best Ways to Avoid Zoom Gloom

September 14 2021

burnout fatigueWe've all come a long way with Zoom and other tech tools over the last year-plus, but that doesn't mean that the new normal feels much like the old one. Zoom Gloom and tech-tool fatigue are natural phenomena as video calls and long hours spent staring at a screen become the common theme of our day-to-day work lives. These challenges are shared experiences that resonate across industries, real estate included.

Fortunately, shared challenges also lead to shared solutions, as companies and individuals continue to adapt to a world where so much business happens remotely.

Battling Zoom Gloom and Other Tech-Tool Fatigue

Zoom Gloom can be caused by a wide variety of psychological and practical factors. Remember those good, old-fashioned in-person meetings, where your mind might occasionally drift for a few minutes before you continued paying attention? As it turns out, those moments actually have real value for our brains, allowing us to avoid becoming overloaded with information and retain more details once we refocus.

On a video call, we all feel a natural urge to look like we're focused on the meeting at all times. We're thinking about what we look like on camera, what other people look like, what's in their background, and what's going on around us in the household — all while trying to stay focused on the task at hand. We don't have the option of asking the person next to us if we missed something, and finding moments to ask questions during a busy call can be a challenging task.

Add it all up, and it's easy to see why a day filled with video calls can leave any of us feeling drained. We feel like we have to be on at every moment, all while dealing with whatever is going on off-camera with our families, pets, and homes. It's a lot for our brains to handle, but we're all learning to adapt. It helps to remember that we're all going through a similar experience and some of the most practical solutions for battling tech-tool fatigue depend on first acknowledging that fact.

It's Okay to Give Your Brain a Break

The common urge to look like we're paying 100% attention at all times without exception is one of the biggest reasons for Zoom Gloom. So it helps to acknowledge that it's okay to look away, even when you're on camera. Giving yourself a momentary break from looking at the faces, screens, and backgrounds of everyone in the meeting can help your brain recharge. It's something that we all do in traditional meetings, and anyone who's been in a few virtual meetings will understand if you need to take your eyes off the screen to allow your brain to regroup.

If you're planning a virtual meeting or video call, it can also be helpful to establish that only the person who's talking needs to have video enabled. Reducing the number of backgrounds and faces on the screen can help everyone in the meeting focus more easily while reducing mental fatigue.

Leave the Multitasking for Later

We've all become experts at multitasking over the course of the past year-plus, and when working from home, sometimes the need to multitask is unavoidable. However, it's best to keep multitasking to a minimum whenever possible while busy with a video call. Try to find a quiet room of the house, and avoid working on other projects while engaged with a call. Staying focused on that singular task makes it easier to retain information, and fewer distractions also means less stress during video calls.

Limit the Stimuli on Your Screen

What are a few browser tabs between friends? While it's tempting to keep all of your tabs open, glance at Slack, or manage your email inbox during a video call, all of that extra visual stimulation can lead to increased stress. Keeping unnecessary stimuli to a minimum makes it easier to focus, and those tabs will still be waiting for you when the meeting or call is over.

If you're leading a meeting, encourage participants to use plain, calming backgrounds. The stimuli of a busy room with books on shelves and decorations all around can be a real distraction, especially when there are many people in a meeting who each have their own unique background.

Take Breaks Throughout the Day to Refresh

In a typical workday, there are built-in times when you take a break from screens to talk to colleagues, walk around the office, or gaze out the window for a few minutes. Remember that it's okay to give yourself a break at home, too! Setting a timer can provide a helpful reminder to get up, stretch, and take a quick stroll outside. Those breaks are a great way to manage stress while giving your eyes and brain a little rest from screens.

Use Email or Traditional Phone Calls When Possible

If you have a one-on-one meeting, an appointment with a client, or a quick question to ask a colleague, it's valuable to remember that not every interaction has to happen on a video call. When possible, try to use regular phone calls for one-on-one conversations and email or messaging apps for quicker conversations that don't require a call. Even switching one or two interactions a day away from video can provide a welcome break for your brain and help reduce fatigue. It doesn't hurt to ask, and chances are the person you're interacting with will appreciate having a break from video, as well.

Schedule a "No Screen Time" Hour After Work

Just like it's helpful to take small breaks throughout the day, it's also wise to give yourself a break from screens after you're done working. So before you fire up your favorite streaming service or hop on social media after work, block out an hour or so with no screen time. Spend some time with family, enjoy some outdoor relaxation, cook a nice meal, or immerse yourself in a hobby that doesn't involve too much technology. It's refreshing to take a break from screens in a work-from-home world, and the health benefits are numerous.

The Shared Challenge and Shared Solutions of Zoom Gloom and Tech-Tool Fatigue

While there's no catch-all solution to battling tech-tool fatigue, there is a common theme: give yourself a break. So much of the stress that comes from Zoom Gloom is because we're constantly engaged with technology throughout the workday, and we often turn to tech for relaxation after work. Whether it's a quick break during a meeting to simply look away from your screen or a more extended break during the day when you get up from your work to walk around, those little moments of rest add up.

It's also helpful to remember that we're all going through a similar experience and to look at how much we've managed to accomplish during the last year despite the unprecedented interruptions to our regular work routines. The real estate industry may look different than any of us are used to, but teams everywhere are still achieving outstanding results. That's no small feat, and the ability to adapt during challenging times is certainly something worth celebrating.

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To view the original article, visit the Delta Media Group blog.