We all think about the content of our emails, but have you thought about the time at which you send them? Consider this situation:
My friend, whom I’ll call Julie, applied for a job at a well-known international company. She is excited about the job opening but concerned that the team she would join is a group of workaholics. As Julie tells it:
“One person on the team emailed me late on Friday evening. Another person emailed me on Sunday morning. They don’t seem to have boundaries between work life and personal life.”
Julie does not want to join a team that expects her to work 60 hours a week. She values her life away from work. So far, these emails are the only red flags she has had about working with this team. But they have warned her to look for other signs of workaholism.
What do you think about the timing of email? As a person who owns her own business, I work day and night. (I’ve driven 25 miles and taught all day today–before writing this blog entry.) But I try to time my email to go out during normal working hours. I don’t want people to know I am thinking about business on Saturday. After all, they don’t know that I have taken Wednesday afternoon off to drive my daughter to her violin lesson, visit a friend at the hospital, or see the latest Harry Potter movie.
At the same time, I do notice when clients write to me at odd hours. When they send messages on Saturday afternoon and reply to email from their vacations, it feels as though they are working too hard. Rather than admiring their commitment, I worry that they are over-committed.
Tethered to our jobs by email, instant messages, pagers, and cell phones, are we any more productive? I don’t think so. I believe that getting away from the job, for a vacation, a violin lesson, a long walk, a hot date–in short, for a personal life–rejuvenates mind, body, and spirit. Making time for ourselves is more productive than replying within 24 hours to every email.
No matter when you work, you can use Microsoft Outlook to delay sending your message until a normal work time. (In the message, click Options. Then notice the delivery options.) Or you can write an email at 2 a.m. and save it as a draft to mail at noon.
I’d love to hear what you think about possible workaholic communication AND what it tells our readers. But feel free to have lunch and get some sun before responding.