Beating Zoom Fatigue: Tips For Avoiding Screen Time Burnout In College

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 Zoom Fatigue: aka, that feeling when you just CAN’T sit in front of a screen anymore. When you want to throw your computer across the room if someone asks “can you hear me?” one more time. 

It’s SO real. 

With COVID-19 keeping us at home, more and more college students are spending most of their time utilizing Zoom and other video conferencing platforms to stay connected and keep up with schoolwork.

So I’m sharing my best tips for beating the burnout and staying engaged during class!

  1. Get into a routine, or get out of one!
  2. If you’re going to be present, be present
  3. Avoid unnecessary video calls
  4. Make your workspace functional and comfortable
  5. Schedule screen-free time
  6. Delete your school email from your phone
  7. Ask for help!

Get into a routine, or get out of it! 

Depending on your brain and your schedule, it might help you to set up a routine.

Having a routine can help you get into the right headspace to get your work done everyday.

Try doing your zoom calls from the same place, wearing the same video-appropriate cardigan, and completing your work at the same time every day. 


It might be helpful for you to shake it up!

Try doing your morning class on the couch, your noon meeting at the kitchen table, and your afternoon study session sitting on the floor.

Get a new lamp for your video-call spot, use a different mug every day to make tea, whatever you need to do to get yourself out of your rut!

If you’re going to be present, be present. 

I struggle BIG TIME with keeping school time and regular life separate.

It’s been so helpful for me to be mindful about tuning in–that is, if I’m doing school, I’m ONLY doing school.

Close other tabs and plan ahead to complete other projects outside of scheduled Zoom class time. (I know, I know…we’re all guilty of answering emails while listening to lectures…)

Airplane mode or ‘do not disturb’ your phone, set weekend or vacation email responses, or block off time on your calendar as ‘busy’ so you don’t get distracted.

Avoid unnecessary video calls and prioritize off-line study habits. 

When so much school work can be done virtually, it’s easy to forget that we can take our studies off-line!

Try printing off worksheets or study guides to complete them by hand.

Make notecards the old-fashioned way. Take notes on your lecture in a real notebook.

When scheduling and attending video meetings, think minimally. Do you need to have your camera on to attend lecture? Does your cohort meeting need to be a whole hour long?

Also, ask yourself whether or not a video call is even necessary to complete your work.

You may be able to move your group project discussion to a group-me thread, slack message, or email conversation.

Can your group project discussion be moved to an email conversation or a slack message instead of a call?

If you are able, prioritize having an agenda for video calls to keep conversation moving.

Make your workspace functional and comfortable

Turn on the lights! Windows and sunshine are your friend!

Set timers for every hour to remind you to switch tasks, stand up, stretch, and drink water.

To avoid eye strain or body aches, invest in the right equipment! Blue light glasses, contoured mouses, supportive keyboard or mouse pads, or chair cushions can all help to keep you more comfortable.

Schedule ‘screen-free’ time

Turn on “do not disturb” settings to keep yourself from feeling like you HAVE to respond to emails and messages every hour of the day.

Utilize vacation/weekend email response settings so that the people contacting you know when you are and are not available.

You can also block off ‘busy’ time on your calendar so that nothing gets scheduled when you don’t want it to be.

Delete your school email from your phone

Just because you are schooling from home does not mean you need to be accessible all the time.

One of the biggest changes that I’ve made has been to take my school email off of my phone.

I now check my school email on my computer at least twice a day on weekdays, and at least once per weekend.

This keeps me from feeling like I need to be ‘on-call’ all the time for classmates and professor’s questions, and helps me to keep schoolwork and the rest of my life separate.

It is always okay to ask for help!

If you are truly struggling with your online courses or workload, reach out to your professor, your academic advisor, or (my favorite!) reach out to the disability resources center (DRC) on your campus.

You can totally reach out to your DRC even if you don’t have a documented disability or have never worked with them before.

Now is the time! If you are struggling and there is information or resources out there that could help you struggle less, I want you to take advantage of it WITHOUT feeling shame or guilt.

There is nothing wrong with needing help!

Your DRC may be able to help you access different equipment to help make you more comfortable and may have suggestions that will help you to feel more confident in the (online) classroom.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast episode, “Tips For Avoiding Zoom Fatigue and Burnout As A College Student”, where I talk all about the best ways to overcome zoom fatigue and screen-time burnout!

Minnesota-based grad student, future RD, educator, content creator, and mac and cheese expert! Natalie is currently a Masters of Public Health student and dietetic intern at the University of Minnesota, and is on-track to becoming a registered dietitian-nutritionist. She earned her bachelor's degree in Dietetics in 2019 from St. Catherine University.

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