video calls: how to stop burn out

March 30, 2022

written by
Barbara O Stephenson

Video calls are the new normal. It’s general practice to simply email each other,  set up a call time and send a video link. There are so many options that offer video now: Zoom, Teams, Google, Ring Central, even our project management software Teamwork has a video option in the chat. Anyone remember Skype? And how many people use facetime or some other personal smart phone method to see each other?


In my world, video went from being an occasional meeting to the main way of communication. And this came with a price; one of which is that we are actually LESS available now. Setting up a call time means I have to book time in my schedule, even if it’s only a 3 minute chat, so often there are days when my schedule is just one solid block of calls psssst…..if I didn’t answer when you called, it was probably because I was on another video call.

In the last three months, one client has called my office line. One! I still get calls but now it’s only cold calls from sales people wanting to sell a service. At 300FeetOut, we plan to replace all the various phone lines we have and just go to a single main line. That way, anyone can leave a message because those voice messages get automatically emailed as voice snippets to hear on your computer. Nobody answers the phone anymore anyway.

After reading that you can probably guess that there is some serious video burn out. According to my google calendar, which now gives me insights (gee thanks), I’m spending 16 hours a week on video calls. That means I’ve spent 676 HOURS on video calls in the last year.

Running a company doesn’t happen while I’m on the phone. That means I’m working late, during lunch, early in the morning or worse, on the weekends. At first I thought the work life balance is easy for me, I simply work when it comes up and live in between. But what it ends up meaning is that life takes a back seat and I’ve been doing this long enough to know, that means burnout.  So here is what I do to keep myself sane:

  • Limit planned calls to 5 a day. I leave room for my team to do quick calls but since we no longer have phones, we can leave our cameras off if we need to. 
  • Use the ‘short meeting’ option in google calendar. Google calendar gives an option for calls to end 5 to 10 minutes before the hour so you have a few minutes every hour to stretch your legs, grab a quick bite, or refresh your lipstick.
  • Exclude planned recurring meetings 1 day a week. I try to avoid client calls on Fridays so that I have time to focus on the things I couldn’t get to all week. 
  • Being on camera all day is exhausting for most of us. It’s natural to look at yourself so having a live image, even a tiny one, is distracting and annoying. I will use a black and white filter because then I don’t naturally gravitate to seeing how others see me. 
  • Multiple screens/ big screens help.  It’s hard to run a screen share when you can’t see people’s expressions and how many times have I had to say “are you nodding your heads because I can’t see you”. With one large screen and my desktop, there is one screen where I can see people and another for the screen share. 
  • Have your tools at the ready- I keep lipstick, clip-on earrings, blue light glasses, a scarf, and a branded fleece zip up at my desk. That way, I can zhuzh up quickly. 


Now that you know what I do all day, let’s share some tips on video call manners–up next.