Apply the golden rule of 120 minutes for online meetings per week if you want to beat the side effects of online fatigue. It’s doable!
For most digital entrepreneurs the online meetings and heavy screen time exposure was the rule in their business schedule. After years and thousands of hours spent in online meetings most of the digital entrepreneurs were quite ready to deal with the daily pressure of the new pandemic business communication model. Fortunately, even under this challenging period we have the tools to manage how much time we spend online.
Let go of your FOMO and embrace your JOMO!
- FOMO: Fear of missing out
- JOMO: Joy of missing out
Prioritize the value of meetings
Not all topics or meetings should be treated with an important flag hanging above our heads. Usually, 8 out of 10 online meetings could have been an email. Having said that, let’s admit how important it is to prioritize the value of each topic and meeting before we schedule our next virtual meetings.
Create a calendar with all the ongoing projects. Highlight which parts are considered important to be shared only in a virtual meeting and which are suitable for an email update. This will help you manage how much time you are willing to spend in virtual meetings. Less online time means that we spend less energy for virtual meetings.
Before each online meeting it’s clever to have a clear agenda about the conversation and the available time which should never be more than 30 minutes. If you can not cover any topic in less than 30 minutes then you are in serious trouble with your team. Say less, be specific and offer solid solutions.
Learn the micro-ecosystem of your team
We all know people that treat online meetings as the perfect way of killing time. Never feel bad if you must remind to other participants that as the employer/ manager/ lead designer / host you are entitled to not welcome people which tend to join online meetings with a lack of respect for other people’s business time. Feel comfortable to ban certain participants that over talk, gossip or mistreat others during online meetings.
In my team we are dealing with several projects at the same time. Some of the team members perform better in written communication and prefer to have only one online meeting per month that usually lasts about 30-40 minutes. For the rest of the team that enjoys verbal communication we have formed speed online meetings that last 15 minutes, twice a week. In other words, learn the micro-ecosystem of your team and respond accordingly.
The golden rule of 120 min/week
When COVID-19 spread out and all travels, conferences, events, and in-person meetings were canceled, the world reacted with an urge to do more and connect more and keep the screen on more.
My weekly schedule has a strict rule for online meetings, since the beginning of my career as a digital entrepreneur. I never break this strict rule of 120 minutes for online meetings per week. Having this filter, has helped me to save my sanity and make better use of my time.
For each online minute, we need five minutes offline to rest our brains. Make this minute worth your attention.
Each week I know that I will spend 60 minutes for online meetings with my team and some clients. The rest 60 minutes are filled with carefully selected events or conversations. When my friends started complaining about the ongoing online fatigue they were experiencing, my first reaction was to share my “dirty” secret: get over your fear of missing out (FOMO) and start protecting your sanity by saying NO to all the invitations for all the online events/meetings/gatherings/presentations. Be picky, strict and thank me later!
Half of my friends, thought that I was too extreme (to say at least). Seven months later they all have adapted my strategy and have reduced the volume of their online time. It’s liberating to evaluate your time and sanity enough in order to make the best out of these uncertain times.
Let me answer your next question. How to handle complex issues? Of course, you can pick up the phone and talk to other people. You can send detailed emails filled in with all the necessary information. In some areas of the planet, including Greece, we can still meet in person and work together. Follow all the precautionary health measures and try to stay safe and healthy.
What is online fatigue? Online fatigue is when you are feeling worn out and trapped into the need to be “online” all the time during the many virtual meetings we have to endure each day, every week and every month.
You may think that it’s something that happens only to over sensitive people. Think again!
Online fatigue symptoms include:
- Lack of concentration
- Muscle pain
- Ear pain
- Mental exhaustion
- Loss of appetite
- Less sex drive
These are a few of the main online fatigue symptoms. In case you recognize them as a pattern in your everyday life then it’s about time to clear your online air and create more free-online-meetings zones in your life.
Don’t wait until you start feeling that you have reached the end of your rope.
One last tip to stay mentally healthy
Get out of your home at least one hour every single day. Go for a walk, exercise, see the sunset… do anything to stay away from your screen. Never take for granted your health. Take good care of yourself and your body.
Our health is our responsibility.