Too much of anything, isn’t good for you!

After working from home since the “Stay at Home” order, Zoom and GoToMeeting have provided me a means to connect with family, clients, and friends. I love to connect with people face to face. I have built my network one relationship at a time and taught others how to grow and nurture their connections. Being able to see another’s face can tell you so much more than sending an email or listening to their voice on the phone.

All the stress of staying at home during this time, creating boundaries between work and personal/family life, feeling disconnected, reduction of work hours, or the consistent juggling between child care and work with little to no outside help are commonplace for many. And now, there’s Zoom Fatigue. Rather than adding this new challenge to an already long list, I challenge us all to take another look at this phenomenon.

When we do something, anything, too much, it creates stress and fatigue. When we blindly apply a solution without a plan into how it best fits into our life and supports us, it can feel odd. Any new system you adopt, a habit you try to build or change in your life is sure to cause friction, as it is new to you. But that doesn’t mean it’s a problem. Misusing Zoom to replace every interaction you had with friends, clients, and co-workers is the problem. That’s like calling a full 30-minute meeting to discuss the most recent episode of your favorite show rather than chatting at lunch or while making your coffee.

There have been debates over how to best use meetings for years. My husband spent years working from home before he retired from tech years ago. I remember his comment that there were “so many conference calls (pre-Zoom), how am I going to find time to do the real work?” You see, we’ve always had challenges of trying to “fit it all in,” so the challenge feels less about the technology. I mean, we’ve complained for years about the number of emails we receive every day, but does that mean that email is the problem? Of course not, when we want to put a nail in a wall, we use a hammer, not a screwdriver, because we’re leveraging the right tool for the job.

How can we best leverage the benefits of video call systems without feeling overwhelmed, over-booked, and burnt-out? First and foremost, before booking your next video call, ask yourself, would I have scheduled an in-person meeting for this in the past, or is this a topic that can be managed using a different tool? Could an email, phone call, instant message, text, or other option suffice? Use the tool that best suits your needs to be effective and efficient.

When using Zoom or any video conference platform, Here are five tips that will help.

1. Treat it as an in-person meeting. We as human beings are highly self-critical creatures. I’ve met very few people that look at themselves in a mirror or a photo and don’t have an inner critique on repeat. Being on Zoom calls all day is like walking around with a mirror in front of you all day. It’s distracting, it can make you self-conscious, and it’s an unnecessary stressor. Now, I’m not saying turn off your video or don’t be aware of your surroundings. But once you’ve set up your location, and checked your video before joining the meeting, do yourself a favor and hide your video from yourself so that you can focus more on the conversation and other attendees. If using Zoom, click the three dots at the top corner of your video and click “hide myself.” Others will still be able to see you, but you will no longer see yourself.

2. Fill Your Cup Realize that video calls are akin to “being on stage” or in front of the room presenting. Make sure your schedule calls for times you feel at your best and avoid stacking them back to back without breaks in between.

3. Pace Yourself 20-20-20. Consider the amount of time you’re spending on your screen each day. While video calls are another great tool to use, if you’re adding additional screen time to your day, you’ll want to be sure you plan time away from screens, ideally outdoors, so you can give your eyes a break and brain a break. A friend of mine mentioned that it’s ideal for your eye health to focus on something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes that you’re looking at your screen to help reduce eye fatigue and other challenges.

4. Background and Lighting. Consider your background, lighting, and environment to make sure that nothing distracts from the conversation, and you’re able to communicate clearly and effectively.

5. Internet Speed and Bandwidth. No one likes to have frozen audio or video, and people don’t tend to like repeating themselves. So do yourself and your attendees a favor and ensure there are not many other video calls, streaming services, or casual web surfing in your household during video calls to avoid connection troubles. If you have a big presentation or call scheduled, consider connecting directly to your internet router rather than connecting via wi-fi.

I hope these tips help you build stronger connections with your network while staying productive and practicing self-care. If you’d like to learn more about nurturing your network, download my “Your Network is Your Prosperity” guide.

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