I recently took part in a virtual event organized by a group based in Europe. It had many similarities to the in-person version of this popular conference — sitting in on seminars, chatting with colleagues, and the jet lag that usually comes with attending conferences overseas.
Yes, that’s right — virtual jet lag is real. Because the event was held on European time, and I live in North America, I had to “start” my day at around 11 p.m. for the duration of the event, and it didn’t end most days until around 4 a.m. the following morning.
I experienced the same sort of fatigue that I remember from those seemingly long-ago days of flying to in-person events — the mental fogginess and physical tiredness you feel from fooling around with your body’s internal clock. I’ve learned a few tips to help me through virtual jet lag that you may find helpful.
Try to get some sleep before the event to adjust your body clock. If possible, spend the day leading up to the event by resting and trying to get some shuteye. This might be hard to do but will help your body prepare for the shock it’s about to receive by staying up all night.
Have a proper schedule to help you through it. Because jet lag — even the virtual kind — makes it hard to perform at your peak capacity, you’re going to need to plan out your “day” (which, of course, is really your night). Have a to-do list to follow so you don’t have to think too much about it, especially for the first day of the event.
Use your computer’s nighttime colour setting. Most computers, phones and tablets now have a special setting for evening use. This setting, usually called “night shift” or “blue light filter” or something similar, sets the screen colour to a warmer tone, which may help reduce eye strain and make it easier to sleep after the event is over.
Set up your own space. Since you are attending this event remotely and most probably from home (where the rest of your household is sleeping), you will need to set up a separate space for yourself. This will ensure you don’t disturb others and will also help you avoid the urge to go back to bed.
Plan the event with virtual jet lag in mind. If you’re involved in planning the event and need help to do so, work with someone who has experience with organizing virtual conferences. They can help you avoid pitfalls that can make the whole experience more difficult for attendees.