I recently read an article from the Harvard Business Review, “Your Late Night Emails are Hurting Your Team” by Maura Thomas. If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and give it a glance. I’ll wait.
Seriously, go read it.
OK good, now you’ve read it. This article presents what some call a “no duh” argument, but it’s really got me thinking. What can we do to reduce the amount of emails we’re sending off-hours? How do prioritize when to send, and why? I’ve asked some professionals and am so fascinated by their reactions that I must record (i.e. paraphrase) them.
The Clinical Psychologist
Saves all her emails to send in the morning.
Sometimes she is prohibited from communicating confidential data without a firewall, so her work prevents any at-home emailing.
The result is that she finds time to exercise, read books, catch up on other passion projects and research, while at work she is hard-set on being focused on all of her clients while in-office. (clear separation of work and life)
She has advised clients with anxiety to change the email push settings on their phone, so that if they feel the impulse to check email, they must cognizantly refresh and pull new messages. Some clients may even feel bold enough to turn off their phones at night. Do Not Disturb Mode during off-hours is good too.
The Product Manager
Fiercely defensive of separation of work and her free time.
Clients tend to demand more time, more features, and it is important to set clear boundaries. These boundaries are constantly being tested.
Also very cognizant of how her late-night emails can be keeping up her team late, thus feeling a responsibility towards not only protecting her free time, but others’ as well.
Always responds immediately to each and every email, even to say “I received your message and I’m looking into it.”
She files each message with a complex “follow-up” folder system that she reviews each morning.
The mentality of billable hours means that you are expected and you expect your team to be emailing at all hours of the day
She has an excellent sense of client service, winning tons of awards and accolades.
She sleeps very few hours, but when she retains a client or wins over a new one, she immediately feels that her hard work has paid off.
The Investment Banker
His words, “I had to alter my drinking patterns in my early twenties” should speak more to that high-stakes environment than anything else I could write. In return you become “the world’s master Excel learner” and if you survive the gauntlet, hopefully you’d get access to the best jobs.
Even with sometimes insane-feeling hours, there is some discipline that comes from it: always respond to an email within 10 hours. Plain and simple.
I hope that some of these new habits will be found useful as it has been to me. What are your email tricks to cut down on stress in the workplace?