Have you been feeling excessively exhausted these days, even though you just do virtual meetings day-in, day-out? You are in danger of a virtual burnout, particularly when you have back-to-back meetings without any breaks in-between.
Some of the indicators show that you feel stressed, tired or overwhelmed, can be the struggle remembering things, conversations and topics you talked about at recent meetings. You may notice lack of decisiveness, feeling unproductive and that you get irritated or annoyed or sometimes withdrawn as well.
Whenever this is the case: P A U S E… B R E A T H E … S L O W D O W N …
Allow yourself that very moment and take a break to avoid virtual fatigue.
"No, we are not tired. We have just been moving very quickly, so we have left our soul behind. Now we have to wait for it to catch up with us again.” (African proverb)
Even Time takes Time
If you have numerous meetings in a day, try and ensure that you take small, intentional breaks in-between.
Get physical: Get up and exercise
Walk around, do a few squats. Not only does it help you feel less lethargic, it will provide you with energy, relaxes your eyes, burn some calories, and counteracts sedentary desk-work.
Mental and psychological ‘travel time’
Since our dramatic reduction in physical travel due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, we have almost forgotten what it takes to plan and prepare a business trip. Of course, virtual meetings need no physical trips, but we still have to be mindful of planning for some - what I call - ‘mental and psychological travel time’ between those virtual meetings:
The time to reflect on and conclude from the previous meeting by finishing your notes and prepare for follow-ups and actions.
The time to prepare for your next meeting and by getting into the right mindset by being ‘present’ in the Here and Now. This makes you feel more comfortable, efficient and decisive.
Keeping in mind that colleagues and team members, who have access to your diary to schedule appointments with you, wouldn’t necessarily know your plans for breaks either.
Culture-specific attitudes towards time
There is a trend that the number of virtual meetings across various countries and time-zones are growing. When time is perceived differently in different cultures such as
Being late for an appointment or taking a long time to get down to business, is the accepted norm in most Mediterranean, Latin-American and Arab countries.
Whereas punctuality-conscious countries like the US, Japan, Germany, England, Switzerland place great value on punctuality and value orderliness.
Depending on your own cultural preference this aspect of cultural diversity can add to the complex levels of stress and potential conflicts.
Time for a change!
It starts with considering a new discipline in diary management. Realise the importance of blocking time out in your calendar for work that needs your focus and full attention, for concentrated tasks, Me-time etc.
Discuss in your teams with your colleagues how you could introduce a meeting culture where everyone could benefit from:
Social meetings (water cooler chats, virtual pub get-togethers, etc.) to nurture the team spirit and bonding amongst colleagues,
Operational meetings that are short and succinct for information exchange in comparison to
Strategy meetings that take longer to discuss important business aspects of business performance, sales and logistics.
Team meetings to organise workload and talk about each other’s projects, tasks as well as sharing concerns and mutual support. And:
Establish a virtual meeting discipline with breaks in-between.
When you allow yourself being more mindful, letting your soul catch up and align with your revived virtual meeting schedule, you will notice the difference it makes: Feeling less fatigue, less overwhelmed and start enjoying virtual get-togethers again, be more productive and have fun again.
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