For most people the term “zoomed out” is to decrease the magnification of the image of a distant object by means of a zoom lens. For me, ZOOMED-OUT has taken on a different meaning. Since lockdown, I spend the majority of my day in a chair in front of a computer screen on virtual meetings be they with patients, colleagues or webinars. Because of its technological superiority ZOOM has become the dominant virtual online meeting platform. Zoom has become so dominant that the term has become an adjective to describe online meetings regardless of what platform you use. In a similar way to, ‘I will google it’, which refers to an online search, we now say ‘I will zoom you’ referring to an online meeting.
Regardless of how good or bad Zoom is as a platform, I am well and truly Zoomed out. In other words, I have Zoom fatigue. Being zoomed out is similar to being burnt-out. In 1974 Herbert Freudenberger, described burnout as, “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”
Being zoomed-out is a reaction to prolonged online work, which is characterized by a feeling of exhaustion, cynicism about the job at hand and feelings of reduced professional ability. Being zoomed-out causes you to feel drained of energy, unable to cope with your todo list and tired. Instead of tackling those big long term projects, you tend to deal with the short term easy to do stuff that leaves you dissatisfied.
I suspect because we are social animals not having regular face-2-face interactions or the coffee shop or water cooler moments begins to affect our performance at work and our mental status.
The threshold for setting-up a zoom meeting is so much lower than face-2-face meetings. The Google calendar Zoom and Google Meet add-ons make setting-up online meetings frictionless. To set-up, a zoom meeting takes one click.
I estimate that at least half of my online meetings since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown have been poorly planned and poorly chaired with no key objectives or outputs. I found the following quotes online that sum up my feelings about meetings and particularly online meetings.
“A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.” Unknown
“Meetings don’t have to be endless to be eternal.” James Faust
“Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better.” Peter Drucker
“The longer the meeting, the less is accomplished.” Tim Cook
“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” Thomas Sowell
“The majority of meetings should be discussions that lead to decisions.” Patrick Lencioni
“You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question.” Bill Gates
Just looking at my diary makes me shudder; it is a sea of blue and other pretty colours with very little white space. I definitely need to take a step back and reconsider whether or not the meetings I have planned for the future need to happen at all and if they do can they not be cut in half?