Why you should never check your work email on Sunday evening

Here at the Coaching Blog- one of the world’s leading blogs on the subject of Leadership and Coaching we quite often post articles by leading authors and authorities- today we are delighted to post the following article from Joyce Russell entitled “Why you should never check your work email on Sunday evening”.

Checking your email on Sunday evening again?

Though you may take a break from work email on Friday night and Saturday, many of us are back at it on Sunday to get a jump on the week ahead.

We go to bed checking our email — one colleague admitted doesn’t go to bed until he clears his inbox — and wake up checking email again.

But it turns out all of this email checking won’t get you ahead; it hurts more than it helps.

Sunday night sabotage

Checking email before bed can cause you to stay up later, have trouble sleeping due to worry, and wake up exhausted.

When you open up email, it can be about anything — simple reminders or jokes from a friend, or much more stressful information (eg negative feedback from a colleague, complaints from a customer, requests to meet with superiors).

The effects can be especially bad on Sunday evenings — starting out groggy on Monday can impact the rest of the week.

Proceed with caution in the morning

If you start the day off by responding to emails, you may never get to the important tasks.

In her book Never Check Email in the Morning, Julie Morgenstern writes, “You’ll never recover. Those requests and those interruptions and those unexpected surprises and those reminders and problems are endless.

“The problem is, email is reactive and not proactive. You just wind up bouncing from task to task, letting your inbox set your agenda.”

So, when should you check email?

Email leads to more email.

Some estimates are that for every message we send and respond to, we get another message in return.

To avoid spending the entire day checking email, set parameters:

– Less is more. Most experts suggest less frequent email checks and sending fewer message when you do check it (so you won’t get so many messages back).

– Carve out specific time. Maybe it is in the afternoon. If you have to do work over the weekend, then do the same thing. Pick a specific time to check email and stick to it. Otherwise, you are switching back and forth from email to other work, which is very difficult on our brains.

– Do this, not email, first. Don’t let your inbox become your to-do list. For each day, get your most critical task done before checking email. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and you will use your most productive mental time for your difficult, important project. As Morgenstern writes, “If you start your day with an important, focused project, you’ll get significantly more done, and this is what successful people do.”

– Only check email if you can address it now. If you know you can’t solve something until Monday, then checking email over the weekend will only stress you.

– Categorise your inbox. Consider managing information by labelling emails: due in 24 hours, due in a week, for review, waiting for follow-up.

– Cut out junk. You can delete junk email that comes from various sources so that you don’t keep getting it.

– Take a firm-wide time out. Talk to your human resources manager or boss about having some time off for everyone in the firm regarding emails. This would mean there would be predictable times when everyone would know that they would not have to worry about emails from colleagues. Firms that are already doing this find employees exhibit significantly lower stress levels and more engagement at work.

– Unplug during off time. Encourage colleagues and staff to unplug during their leisure time or weekends. Some firms actually prohibit employees from checking email during off hours, but this has to be a strict enforced policy. Employees appreciate the freedom to truly enjoy their vacation time and come back to work refreshed.

There are benefits from being able to connect with people at all times, that connectivity is impacting our overall health and productivity. Looks like it is time to take back control over our email.

Russell is vice dean at University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and director of its Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program. She is a licensed industrial and organisational psychologist and has more than 25 years of experience coaching executives and consulting on leadership and career management.

– The Washington Post

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