If we were to list the most stressful aspects of 2020, work overload would undoubtedly rank close to the top. This year has seen millions of workers working from home and due to the nature of the pandemic our days are often filled with virtual video conferences, constant video-chatting, and team meetings (most of which are – yes, online!)
There’s no doubt that Zoom, Skype and Google Hangout are now our new best friends but many of us take on more work than we are able to cope with which can lead to extreme pressure and stress.
If you’re finding that you’re more exhausted at the end of your workday than you used to be, you’re not alone. Over the past few months, mentions of “Zoom Overload” have been trending on Google searches and Linkedin, its clear the shift to remote working and the applications that power our new world are leading to an increased psychological and physical stress. Lets explore why we feel Zoom overload?
We have to focus more on online conversations than in offline conversations.
Traditionally, your colleagues will be by your side to give you a gentle push when you catch yourself distracted in a work meeting. However, when most meetings are online, it’s far less natural to help each other out. To absorb and process the information shared during that meeting, you would have to focus more intently on the ongoing conversations.
A newfound emphasis on multitasking.
Now, more than ever, we have found that we can handle it all — dial into a virtual meeting, refresh our email inboxes and drop a text message to a friend and scroll through our Instagram feed within the span of a minute, or less. Having to accomplish almost everything in the same space inspires this desire to maximize whatever time we have, to feel productive.
“Zoom fatigue” is contributing to brain fatigue.
Research shows that our brains can only do so many things consciously at once, as we have limited working memory. Comparatively, online meetings increase our cognitive load way more than offline meetings do, as there are several things, we need to take note of in the former. For instance, to show that you’re paying attention in a meeting, you might feel the urgency to keep up that constant gaze into the webcam. Also, when we’re presenting, many of our audience’s non-verbal cues that we rely on processing in-person, such as body language, are less visible. Thus, we put in extra effort to figure out how much our team members are engaged, and if our ideas are being put across appropriately.
Dealing with Zoom Overload That being said, don’t fret! Here are 5 best tips from the team at Half The Sky Asia, to keep you on top of your game.
The idea of doing more in less time always seems to be a great chance to boost your productivity. Yet, research refutes this. When we try to do multiple things at one go, it affects our work performance. It taxes your brain when you have to switch constantly between tasks, and this would take up more of your productive time. So the next time you dial into a virtual meeting, be sure to minimise all your tabs and applications that might distract you. This might be your email inbox and messaging apps like Whatsapp Web. Be mindful — put your phone down, and stay present at that moment. There is a time for everything, and you can always tend to other tasks when your meeting is over.
Take time out of your everyday routine to get mental, visual and physical breaks. You could get active and go for a morning run at the park nearby, or indulge in some self-care by picking up your favourite book or taking a luxurious bubble bath. It’s all up to you — focus on relieving the stress you’ve been feeling from having to be online all day. You could even purposefully schedule an hour or two of screen-free time, to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Remember to be intentional about how you choose to spend your time! It’s easy to hustle through each workday, but trust us when we say that some time off a video call-filled day is just what you need to relax.
Organise your meetings.
Always have an agenda! Video-call meetings will often drag on when everyone gets excited about exchanging ideas and catching up. If you’re hosting a meeting, be sure to identify a clear purpose for it, and the main topics your team will be discussing. Go a step further, and encourage your colleagues to do the same. Coming up with a strategic plan only makes your calls more efficient and productive.
Know when online meetings are necessary.
When almost everyone in your network is working remotely, it seems that using a video-conferencing app is the default option to collaborate on events or projects. When that happens, it is good to note that cameras don’t always have to be turned on throughout meetings — suggest to make that optional. Also, there are times when face-to-face meetings or phone calls are more apt for certain situations. In other cases, perhaps your team could communicate via shared document platforms, and provide detailed comments instead. This could vastly reduce the need to e-meet.
Know When To Say "No".
If you have had a long day of back-to-back video calls, you might feel drained — and that is normal. It's time to be discerning. There are meetings which are valuable, and meetings where it might be better for you to take a backseat. The latter could include work projects where you find that it’s too soon for you to be involved.
Here is a Half The Sky Pro-tip: Use a low-conflict approach to make your voice heard. If you feel like sitting out for a meeting, ask the meeting host to send over a quick overview and the topics that will be covered. You will find that in several scenarios, you can actually respond and resolve things asynchronously, so don’t feel obligated to commit to every single virtual session.
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About half the sky
half the sky (HTS) is a career platform for women in Asia. We connect women to career opportunities at companies that care. We also want to equip you with information, tips and strategies to navigate the workplace today and the future.
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