Welcome to life during pandemic times - a world in which video conferencing, aka Zooming, is a big part of our new normal. When the stay home orders were first mandated, everyone had to get up to speed on video conferencing very fast. Like yesterday fast. And Zoom was right there to be the chosen platform - whether it was for teachers/students, work meetings, or happy hours with friends. We were all so excited to see each other, and secretly (or not so secretly) get a sneak peek into living rooms or home offices we may have never visited physically before. Is that your cat? Everyone stop to admire the kitty!
And for the most part, Zoom works great. It's easy to set up meetings, the links work, the navigation tools are intuitive, and most people can learn the basics pretty quickly. The subscription cost at under $15/month seems reasonable for most. There are a few things people weren't expecting, like infiltrators (super-weird if you have ever had that happen to you) and the fact that people can't make sound at the same time. This is why activities like singing together are especially challenging, but everyone is doing their best with the limitations. Something is better than nothing and human connection to people other than those in your household can do a world of good for our mental health.
Fast-forward from the early days to having done this for 2 months now. Yesterday I had 6 Zoom meetings - some for work, some personal. At the end of the day I was fatigued in a way that seemed to surpass a similar day from the before-times with in-person meetings. I realized that they are pretty intense - staring into a screen, waiting your turn to talk, taking notes, following the chat bar. When you are hosting, as I often do, add to that making sure that everyone is getting a chance to speak, screen sharing, sticking to an agenda and timeline. Stamina time for getting work done and paying attention seems to be 1 hour, typically. That means after the first 5-10 minutes of everyone getting settled, you have 45-50 minutes to cram everything in. As you can imagine, after a full day of those, you are liable to develop a Zoombie brain (which means for the next few hours, the most you will be able to do is watch Netflix and eat chips from the bag).
Here are a few things I have learned along the way to make my heavy Zoom days a bit more manageable:
Even with all of this, I'm so grateful for Zoom. I got to wish my best friend from college happy birthday yesterday while she was in her living room in Boston, I was in Portland, and our other friend was in San Francisco. It was fun to laugh together and talk about how strange this all is. I loved seeing their faces and hearing their voices. It's the same when I schedule calls with my family, and one upside to this is that we'll continue this practice beyond a time when we have no other options.