How (and Why) to Stop Sending Post-Work Emails
Right now, the French government is debating whether sending emails after work should be illegal.
“All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be,” said Benoit Hamon, a French politician. “Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash—like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails—they colonize the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.”
The United States probably isn’t close to banning after-hours communication. However, you should consider implementing a personal prohibition; not only will your life balance improve, but you’ll put less stress on your coworkers.
Option 1: Provide an Alternative
For some positions, it’s necessary for you to be available when you’re at home. Twenty-nine days out of the month, you might never get an email—but you never know when that one day will arrive when your team needs you.
Does that mean you can’t set up a no-email policy? Not at all. Just provide your coworkers with another way to reach you. For most people, that’s a cell phone number. You can say, “In the event you need to contact me, call my cell.” It’s as easy as that.
You do need to be comfortable providing your office with your cell, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Once you’ve stopped checking your inbox all the time, you’ll be happier, healthier—and ultimately—more productive. So go ahead and say au revoir to after-work email.
Option 2: Talk to Your Team Members
Let’s say you’re currently a pretty heavy post-work emailer. In this case, you should give the people on your team a heads-up.
For example, you might say, “Hey, guys! I have some activities planned with family tonight, so I’m not going to check my email after I leave the office. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns—I definitely don’t want anyone’s work to suffer.”
It’s highly likely everyone will be supportive, and some may even copy you.
Option 3: Go Cold Turkey
If your after-hours email activity is already minimal and you want to tear off the metaphorical Band-Aid, simply stop sending or replying to emails after you leave for the day. At first, you’ll likely feel pretty anxious. What if there’s an emergency? What if your boss has an urgent question? But as time goes on, and the world continues to spin even though you didn’t check your email from 6 PM until 8 AM, your nervousness will go away.
And in the end, without the constant urge to check your inbox, you’ll feel much less anxious.
This approach is best for people who already send very few emails after work. If you’re messaging your coworkers once or twice per night, you may want to revisit options 1 and 2 above.
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