By Hannah Kelly and Dawson Heath
As professional writing students, we are familiar with a lot of extra screen time. Our work is inherently digital– from physically writing and editing online, to the different projects we take on like creating websites and designing communications materials, we are used to spending time in front of our computers to work. Despite this, we have found ourselves dealing with a new relationship with our screens due to COVID-19, one that requires us to spend even more time on our computers, and one that is causing a new problem for our workdays: Zoom fatigue.
Zoom fatigue is the now-famous colloquial term for a state of tiredness or exhaustion that comes from an extended period of time in front of a video chatting software. With COVID-19 prompting us to shift our work online, Zoom fatigue has become a near-universal experience for students and professionals alike. Coupled with screen fatigue, it can cause a world of trouble.
So what can we do to overcome Zoom fatigue when it seems as though everything we do as professional writers is online? The answer may be simpler than you think: we have to embrace the humanity of our online situations and find space (however small) in our days to walk away from our virtual spaces.
1: Embracing the Humanity
While Zoom meetings can seem to take away the humanity of meeting with someone, they also bring us together through the many kinds of interruptions a person can experience. A pet barging in, the WiFi cutting out, a roommate walking in, seeing that you are in class, then backing away slowly. These moments remind us that we are all working towards the same goal of connecting to exchange ideas.
We have to reject the perfectionism that comes with online spaces. As professional writers, we tend to over-communicate and overthink our work at times, and finding ourselves online means a lot more emails and virtual communication. Embracing the humanity of our situation and being honest with our classmates and coworkers really helps alleviate the stress of online communication,
2: Find Physical Spaces for Virtual Tasks
Still, if you are worried about losing productivity at an internship or in a class, don’t be afraid to go old-fashioned. Spending a lot of time using a calendar app to track down your appointments, classes, or meetings? Invest in a planner or bullet journal. Writing out notes for your project in a Google doc? Grab the pen and paper and shift to real-world note taking.
While these may seem no-brainer ideas, taking one or two of your daily tasks to the physical world will break up your virtual routine and give your eyes and mind a break from staring at a screen. Challenge yourself to find a task or two you do every day and take it to the physical world! Schedule it into your daily schedule and watch how it makes you feel.
3: Get Moving
It may seem impossible, but sometimes the best way to fight screen fatigue is to step away from the screen and get moving. Scheduling regular breaks from screen-time may be one of the most important ways to fight screen fatigue. When the Zoom call ends, try getting up to go for a quick walk, stretching by your workspace, or even turning on your favorite song and dancing. Getting your body moving will give your mind a break and make you more productive in the long run.
While our work is increasingly more digital, we need to give ourselves time away from the screen. With Zoom calls filling up our daily schedules for work, class, and social events, it is more important than ever to embrace the humanity of our situation and find physical spaces to work and get moving in order to avoid Zoom fatigue and screen fatigue. Once you give yourself that space to escape the screen, you might even find yourself looking forward to the next of many Zoom calls to come.