March 24, 2022

In this issue

Zoom Fatigue
By Tim O'Brien, Ph.D.
During the past two years of the pandemic, we have all had some level of experience with Zoom technology.
We have greatly benefitted from increased interaction across the Province, it has allowed us to be productive in ways that we could not have imagined in past years. We have also heard the expression Zoom Fatigue. This is a real phenomenon and worth some reflection on why it occurs and how we might mitigate it so that Zoom continues to be a useful tool and not an undue burden.
Jeremy Bailenson of Stanford University writes in the Wall Street Journal about how various aspects of Zoom are producing unintended (psychological) consequences. He breaks these into four categories and provides some tips on how to avoid this fatigue. I have also added a fifth category.
  1. Excessive amounts of close-up gaze.  In face-to-face interactions, we do not stare directly at people continually. Zoom effectively transforms listeners into speakers along with the physiological aspect of speaking to a group. Even if we are not speaking, we are reacting as though we were.
  2. Cognitive load. On Zoom, nonverbal behavior remains complex, but users need to work harder to send and receive signals. We are not aware of how we do this in face-to-face interactions. It becomes natural but on Zoom, we are working harder and are unaware of it seeking non-verbal signals.
  3. All day mirror. On Zoom, we are seeing ourselves constantly and are also self-evaluating our image. We do not do this in face-to-face interactions, and it adds another layer of stress that we are again unaware.
  4. Reduced mobility. In Zoom, we situate ourselves within the frame of the camera and essentially stay there. During face-to-face meetings, people move around and do not stare at the faces of others.  
  5. Overuse of efficiency. Since we have this technology, we tend to overuse it.
Given these issues, we might mitigate Zoom fatigue by limiting on-camera time. We can attend Zoom meetings and keep our cameras off when not speaking. We can then release ourselves of the constant attention that we are giving to these sessions and not feel as though we are speakers.
Limiting use of the camera can help us to not constantly read non-verbal behavior. We can move about more freely, and naturally, and not always be in the camera frame. Even in a situation with trusted people, the non-verbal communication elements are something that we can bear in mind as we continue to use Zoom technology.
Mindfulness is also a part of this. We can ask if Zoom conferences are necessary for the variety of interactions that we have. If the answer is “Yes”, we can also make sure that we are not scheduling meetings back-to-back or several times in a given day. In essence, we can take Zoom on a limited diet.
We can also schedule some of our interactions by telephone rather than always on Zoom. Does an upcoming interaction need to be on Zoom? Can we go “old school” and have a phone conversation?
Zoom is a great tool and will probably be a part of life going forward, but overuse of anything is generally bad. Limiting Zoom might be a good way to not move from Zoom Fatigue to Zoom Burnout.
Email Overwhelm
By Fr. David Colhour, CP

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with incoming emails  you reach for a crash helmet to protect you? For many of us the number of daily emails we get impinges on the important work and ministry we are supposed to be about. 

Sociologists are now looking at the effects of email on our mental and emotional health.  Working from home through the pandemic has contributed to email stress.    Some studies have shown that people spend over 30% of their day reading, writing and searching for information in a previously read email. This is apparent in every organization - even in our Passionist Family.  

The Communications Committee of Holy Cross Province consciously decided to try to take on some of the problems firsthand. And one of those problems is email. It affects all of us. It is the major way people communicate these days.  Letters, notes, newsletters, news bulletins, sign up lists, requests for information, FYIs, memos, don't forgets and  save-the-dates, all ends up in our inbox. There is no end to it, and you cannot turn it off. 

What can you do? Here are a few tips from over 20 articles on the topic.   

Take Control of your time. 

If you answer every email when it comes in, your email controls your schedule. Set aside time blocks in your day which you devote just to email.  Jumping back and forth between a project and the latest email forces the brain to change gears and you lose focus on the project at hand.  When you begin your designated time for email, first delete everything that is not important. Spend less than 60 seconds with this task. In the next two minutes, prioritize and tag what is urgent, from what can be dealt with 2 hours from now, tomorrow or next week. Then deal with the urgent emails. When your scheduled email time is complete, go back to the project you need to be working on.

Take control of your inbox.  
  • Keep your inbox empty.  One manager discovered that her employees do not suffer from inbox distraction if the inbox is empty.  A study by Harvard Business Review states full inboxes waste 27 minutes per day.   96% of remote workers say it is vital to achieve Inbox Zero - the clean slate.  To do that, one needs to be more proficient at tags, folders, archives and delegation.  
  • Use tags to prioritize your work.
  • Use folders to sort the work into appropriate categories and subcategories.  It makes it more efficient to find information in the future.
  • The one touch rule says read the email, and act on it the first time.   Follow the 4D's:  Delete it, Do it, Defer it or Delegate it.
  • Unsubscribe from newsletters and promotions that overwhelm your inbox.
Take control of what you send out.
  • The more emails you send out the more you will get back. 
  • Minimize useless information.
  • Send shorter emails.   No one wants to read a novel.
  • Utilize the subject line effectively.  Right up front include:
    • What is this email about.
    • What decision needs to be made.
    • What do you want the reader to look at?
    • What is the priority?
    • When is the response expected?
Learn more about your email client

In one of those 27 minutes you would spend in a day being lost in your Inbox, why not invest that time in educating yourself to some of the specifics and features of how your email program works. Go beyond the basics.   Learn about some of the built-in tools which can assist you in saving you time and making your time more productive.

Lastly, this is Lent.  Why not fast a little from email?  Put down the technology and spend a little time doing some spiritual reading.  It certainly will be more beneficial in the long run.
Going Viral: What it Means By the Numbers

On February 25, The Passionists of Holy Cross Province joined the world in our growing concern for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Along with providing an update from Fr. Łukasz Andrzejewski, CP, Provincial in Poland, we invited all members of the Passionist Family, individually and communally, to observe a day of fasting and prayer for peace on March 2. We shared a "Prayer for Ukraine," written by Fr. Phil Paxton, CP, across our social media channels and in short, we went viral.

So what exactly does that mean? Statistically, it means we reached over 77,000 people and had more reactions, comments and shares than any of our previous posts. On Facebook alone, nearly 1,000 people shared the prayer, which resulted in over 1,100 comments and 5,000 reactions (meaning a person clicked "like," "love," or "care" on the post). 

But the real meaning behind going "viral" is that the Passionists were able to stand in solidarity with thousands of people, many of whom were probably introduced to the Passionists for the first time. If you have ever wondered if "sharing" and "liking" posts on social media does anything, the statistics show the potential power of social media.

And while ideally a prayer for a time of unrest and injustice would never be needed, it is encouraging to know that with Fr. Phil's thoughtful words, we were able to stand together in prayer with our brothers and sisters around the world.

Our Viral Post Facebook Stats

New Cooperative Resource for Province Communicators

Early in 2022, the Communications Committee sent out a survey to communicators across Holy Cross Province asking how and why they communicate. The hope was to be more strategic in the use of communication platforms and methods, to share best practices and to provide communication support to all Province ministries.
Last month, over a dozen of these communicators met via Zoom to discuss the results of the survey and to have an open discussion on how best to efficiently and effectively communicate. The group was enthusiastic and eager to work more cooperatively.
We will be hosting another Zoom meeting in April for communicators where we will be introducing them to the platform Slack, which will allow for easier conversation and sharing across the Province to support everyone’s communications efforts.
If you did not attend the previous communicators' Zoom meeting and are interested in being part of the discussion at the April meeting, please send an email to We look forward to much more sharing and cross-promotion throughout the Province!

Remain hidden in Jesus Crucified without desiring anything other than to be transformed by love into the Divine Good Pleasure in all things. Eventually the darkness will pass and a vista will open before you with a bright sunlight warm enough to melt mountains of ice and snow.
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