If you work from home, then you've definitely looked like this at some point during the day. Not because you rolled out of bed but because you had too many back-to-back video calls in one day.
Attending video calls is more exhausting than phone calls because you can't pace around the room like you can when you are on a phone call. Moreover, you expend more effort focusing on the other person, dealing with tech issues or lag effects, and looking at your camera. This article will provide you with practical strategies to manage video call fatigue. We'll start with video tricks, move to re-energizing during breaks, and finish with scheduling strategies.
Trick 1: Start video calls without video. If you start the call with video, it puts pressure on the other person to turn their video on. Instead, once the other person logs on, keep your video off and say, "let me know if you would like to use video because sometimes people prefer a break from video. I am happy either way." Opening with video off gives the other person a choice of whether to use video, and it avoids the awkward moment when you turn your video on, and the other person doesn't turn their video on. What to do in this situation? Do you keep your video on and feel awkward the entire time, or do you awkwardly state, "I'm turning my video off since yours is off."
Trick 2: Only use video for the first part of the call. For example, if you have an hour call, only use video for the first 15 minutes and then agree to turn the video off for the last 45 minutes. If you both agree to this at the beginning of the call, it isn't awkward when you both turn off the video 15 minutes in.
Trick 3: Hide your self camera view. Research shows we look at our camera 50% of the time. We look at our camera because we want to make sure we come across ok and ensure we don't have food in our teeth like this.
Re-Energizing Tip 1: Use the 60/30/15 break tool. Every 60 minutes, look at something 30 feet away for at least 15 seconds. Looking at the camera or computer screen is exhausting for your eyes, and the 60/30/15 tool will provide a much-needed break every hour.
Re-Energizing Tip 2: Try a micro exercise in between video calls. For example, do ten pushups, ten jumping jacks, or ten sit-ups. Micro exercises will get your blood flow going, change your attention, and they feel great!
Strategy 1: Meeting free days. Google recently announced they would have meeting free days so people can have uninterrupted, focused time to complete critical work. While meeting free days may not be realistic at your company, you can still block off time where people cannot schedule meetings on your calendar. You've probably heard this advice before and feel it doesn't work. I agree it doesn't work if you do not make great use of the time you blocked off. If you let people creep into your blocked time or are not highly productive during blocked off time, it won't work. Imagine if you completed high value critical work during your blocked off hour; if this were the case, you would always protect this hour of uninterrupted time. If this strategy doesn't work, then re-evaluate why and the answer is usually in the mirror, you!
Strategy 2: Schedule meetings to end earlier. Instead of scheduling a 30-minute meeting, schedule a meeting for 20-25 minutes. Instead of scheduling a 60-minute meeting, schedule a meeting for 45 minutes or 50 minutes. You might even consider changing the default meeting length time in your computer calendar. Shorter sessions will help everyone. Back-to-back calls are exhausting, and a little buffer time in between makes a huge difference.
I encourage you to experiment with a few of these ideas and find what will help you and your audience better manage video call fatigue.