Article brought to you by the Tech Helpline, a member benefit of the Kansas Association of REALTORS®.
As real estate agents and brokers spend more time on their computers and mobile devices than ever before, many have experience tech fatigue. The concept has been around long before the pandemic outbreak, but it has become mainstream.
One of the most common culprits has been an overabundance of video calls and conferences. Health experts say that Zoom gloom is real. The same is true for all other video-calling interfaces, including Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Webex, FaceTime, and Skype. It turns out that virtual interactions can be hard on the brain.
According to Andrew Franklin, an assistant professor of cyberpsychology at Norfolk State University in Virginia, video calls impair our natural need to assess the nuisances of one’s body language and other non-verbal cues. “It can be a big brain drain not to have them,” Franklin told National Geographic magazine, noting that multi-person screens magnify the problem.
Here are some tips to combat tech fatigue:
1. Take Zoom breaks
Don’t schedule Zoom meetings back-to-back. It’s too exhausting for your brain. When you are face-to-face with someone in person, you don’t stare them in the eyes for 30 minutes straight. But on Zoom, we feel like we need to pay 100% attention all the time. Taking regular breaks between your Zoom meetings – even switching to a traditional phone call versus a video call – can help.
2. Set stand-up alarms and take a breath
Use the alarm settings on your smartphone to alert yourself to stand up at regular intervals – at least once an hour. Make sure you walk away from all screens. If you have a smartwatch, pay attention to the app that reminds you when to stand up – and the one that prompts you for a breathing exercise. Closing your eyes and taking deep breaths not only can reduce stress but can help relieve tech fatigue.
3. Go outside
In addition to disconnecting from technology at regular intervals throughout the day, you need to take a walk – literally. Just walking around the block or through your neighborhood can help reduce tech fatigue. Just keep your smartphone in your pocket. Make it a screenless journey.
4. Turn off your notifications
The best strategy is to turn off all of your app notifications, including texts. For some agents, that may be impossible, especially in your deadline-driven world. But even if you must check your text, news feed, or other communication apps at set intervals – say every 15-30 minutes – you still can reduce a lot of tech fatigue that comes from always being connected. It’s also an excellent way to not immediately “react” to social media posts.
5. Deploy the 20/20/20 rule
Eye doctors recommend that every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen requires you to look at something about 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a break they need. Research has discovered that if you don’t take breaks away from staring at a computer screen all day, you can increase your odds of getting myopia or nearsightedness. It takes about 20 seconds for your eyes to completely relax.
6. Ask the question: Does it need to be a video meeting?
Remember, you can avoid Zoom gloom by limiting the number and frequency of your calls. Ask yourself, or the call organizer, if you can accomplish the same thing on a regular phone call. If you do not have to share a screen, opt for a regular call as every call does not need to be a video call.
7. Track your small screen time
Tech fatigue is exacerbated when you also are staring at your phone. Today’s smartphone can track your daily and weekly screen time. By monitoring your small screen time – often spent on social apps – and setting a goal to reduce your screen time, you can also reduce tech fatigue.
8. Invest in a better desk setup
Ditch the dining room chair and splurge on a real office chair that’s ergonomically beneficial. Also, the price of large screens has plummeted, and a better screen that’s crisp and clear can reduce eye exhaustion that increases tech fatigue. Great lighting is an important addition as well.
Real estate agents are tied to technology and the digital world today as never before. That’s why it is just as important to be pro-active when it comes to not letting technology get the better of you. You can significantly reduce tech fatigue and Zoom gloom by taking these steps, but you need to recognize the negative impacts this can have on you because of what you do.
Finally, keep in mind that if your state or local association, brokerage, or MLS offers Tech Helpline as a member service benefit, you can reach out to a Tech Helpline analyst to reduce your stress created by a problem you are having with technology. Ensure you take advantage of this service as there is no charge as it is included in your membership fee. Tech Helpline analysts are ready to help you fix your tech problems — and that can also reduce tech stress.
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