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How to beat screen fatigue

Who dreamed of working from home, pre-lockdown?

Staying in your pyjamas all day, with the cat on your lap and all your home comforts within reach. Sounds pretty darn relaxing, right? Then why are we all feeling so exhausted?

If you are working from home right now, you will know what we’re talking about. It’s one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ scenarios, where the reality doesn’t quite live up to the dream. Of course, these are unusual circumstances and the Covid-19 pandemic puts its own stressful filter on working from home life, but there are other reasons too!

Screen fatigue, or more specifically ‘Zoom fatigue’, is a thing. And at the moment we are getting a double dose, as we rely on screens for both work and play. The irony is, while we are practising social distancing, we are also socially exhausted. Pretty crazy, huh?

Without the usual cues we take from body language, we have to concentrate much harder when communicating via video conferencing as opposed to being in the same room as someone. And then there’s the ‘Rear Window Phenomenon’ of seeing yourself while watching others. When we’re doing this day in, day out, without all our other usual sporting and cultural outlets, it can quickly become overwhelming.

But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Here are our Top 5 Tips for beating screen fatigue:

1. Take regular screen breaks

This is something we should be doing whether we are at the office or at home. But, when you are at home, you can also use this as an opportunity to get stuff done. Put a load of washing on, and by the time it’s ready to hang out you will be due another screen break. Play a quick game of cards with the kids, and promise them another game in a couple of hours’ time. These micro-breaks will benefit everyone and happy kids = more productive parents.

2.Create separate work and home environments

If you don’t have a home office or a dedicated work space, get creative. Have a ‘work’ and a ‘home’ coffee cup. Dress up for work (at the very least change out of your PJs), and dress down when you’re finished for the day. File your work away at the end of the day where you can’t see. Change locations for socialising – if you’ve been working at the kitchen table all day, move to the sofa for your Friday night Zoom drinks with your friends.

3. Pick up the phone

Yes, that’s right. Ditch the screen and try talking on the phone instead. Especially if it’s a one-to-one call, where you don’t need those visual cues to know who’s speaking next. That way you can move around while you’re talking (walking meetings can be very productive) and you don’t have to expend extra energy worrying about how you look on camera.

4.Change things up

Don’t go straight from one meeting to another. This is exhausting enough in person, let alone in front of a screen. Chunk your day into different tasks to break up the time spent on video interactions.

5.Don’t double-up

It’s hard enough to focus on one screen, let alone two. Typing away on-screen while also trying to present your best self on video can be particularly draining. If you need to take notes during a meeting, try turning off your camera while you type, or leave the camera on and take notes by hand.

And, when it comes to the weekend, make the most of the ‘real’ time you spend with the people in your bubble. Once you’ve done the rounds and checked in on those people outside your bubble, ditch the screens entirely. Go for walks, play some good old fashioned board games, bake (if you can get your hands on some flour) or do some gardening. That way you will be refreshed and ready to put your best face forward for your next Zoom!

There you have it! Our top tips to beating screen fatigue.

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