9 to 5 emails

When I returned to work at the beginning of January, I made the decision not to receive work emails on my phone anymore. The switch off during December had been wonderful and I decided it’s exactly what I need going into 2015.

MailboxI’ll admit it was hard in the beginning. I would randomly click on the envelope, more out of habit, and remember that my mailbox was not connected. But I stuck it out.

The first realization has been how much time I was ‘stealing’ from home-life by reading my mails. I sit on average 45 – 60 minutes when I get into the office in the morning, catching up on reading emails (that I could’ve read at home). Yes, so it may have saved me time at work, but it ultimately stole time from family and other things around the house.

The second thing I realized is that I needed to start re-prioritizing the important emails. I don’t know about you, but as that email pops into my mailbox, I tend to respond immediately and action it. Almost 90% are not even urgent. So then which are?

Having the support of my boss and team has helped and also encouraged a culture of true work-life balance. They know that if they need to get hold of me (and no, I’m not a Doctor on call so not even necessary) they can Whatsapp me. I also don’t expect of them to be online once they’ve left the office and prefer that they rather spend time doing non-work related activities.

But again, it is their choice, not mine. I know it’s not for everyone. Some people like to be connected and have the flexibility. But it was something I needed to do.

Does not reading my emails after hours make me forget about work? Surprisingly no. I never switch off. I’m constantly thinking about projects, ideas, goals, my team. Do I feel like I’m missing out on some major announcement or important information? Yes, all the time. But I am enjoying switching off more.

It’s been a good decision and time will tell if I’m able to stick to it. Ironically, I’m not alone. It’s becoming legislation in some countries, such as Germany as early as next year. What are your thoughts? What works for you?

8 thoughts on “9 to 5 emails

  1. Loved your post, Bo. I decided to do the same towards the end of last year because the work emails were really affecting my home life and even my sleep, I just couldn’t switch off – surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to do and I sleep better at night and appreciate home life (kid, husband and dogs) more because I am 100% there.

    I read this quote from a friend that has become my mantra:
    “How can you stay in peace and love during the day? Simply do not listen to any thoughts telling you that there is something more important than what you are doing right now. In doing so, each object, each person, each instant will be to you the love of your life, including yourself.”

    xx

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  2. I’m the only one in my 24/7 operation who does my role- I have a couple back ups but I get a lot of emails on my days off. So I check in the morning when I get up. Otherwise the other leaders on my team are supposed to call my personal cell or home number in an emergency. Because I just refuse to tied to my work phone. But I’m lucky that my company gives us a phone for communication so it’s easy to turn off

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  3. That’s ok – I had a leader a level above me REPLY last week to an email I sent in NOVEMBER. She wasn’t the primary receiver an the information was tco’d in a timely fashion so it didn’t bother me at the time. But when she responded like it was just sent and then ignored emails from myself and the primary responder that the info was found and continued to involve
    Others in our organization higher up I was appalled. And I hate people who send an email and 5 min later walk around the corner to my office because i hadn’t responded yet and the answer does not require anything more then yes or no!

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  4. Wish I could switch off my work mails, phone, (even whatsapp perhaps as it takes so much time), but unfortunately I will not be able 😦 All the best to you, may you really enjoy the peace and quiet at home!

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  5. Up until recently, my work culture did not rely on after hours communication. Even now, I really do not need to consult email outside of work. Unfortunately people at work tend to use email to communicate within the office. My boss has come to me and said things like; “Did you get my email?” Since he was standing in front of me, I asked why didn’t he just ask me what he wanted in the email. This seemed to dumbfound him.
    When I am not teaching, and at work, I am pretty easy to find. Weird that someone would send email, and then come and track me down to see if I had read it. I work in a field that is all about communication. Funny that those who used to do the same job don’t understand that.

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    • I totally agree! In fact, last week an email made its way to me that had been floating around since OCTOBER! I was shocked that no one had bothered to pick up the phone and talk! I also find people have just stopped replying to emails. I’ll send out a really awesome insight or snippet to a couple of people and hear nothing back. Most bizarre!

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