Posts Tagged ‘Email’

A bit about balance

I picked up my blackberry tonight in preparation for going back to work tomorrow after a week and a half off.  One of the best things about taking time off during the end of December is that so many people are off the flow of requests and emails slows down enough that I don’t feel like I’m too behind on stuff when I get to working again.

I was very surprised at what I saw- a meeting request that were sent out New Year’s Eve evening for Jan 6th, an email chain between a few people around some sample unit questions and clarifications that occurred between Christmas and New Year’s, and even some follow-ups from older emails sent on Saturday.  Pretty much all of these emails were sent by people “on vacation”.

Why is is that people feel the need to check emails, send emails, follow up on work stuff during vacations?

  • Do they just get bored after a few days of vacation and use it as something to do?
  • Do they feel like stuff is happening that they are missing out on- so they log into email to check in and end up sucked into responding to items in their inbox?
  • Is it just a bad habit, so ingrained that after a day or two they have to check and send email?
  • Is there a peer pressure?  They know other people are checking their emails and want to look like they are also on top of things and responding.

I can say that after working a few years after college, I got caught up in the constant email frenzy.  My manager and several of my peers send emails all day long, all night long, and during most holidays.  I started to check my email and respond all the time- thinking that was how I’d be viewed as successful.  After over a year, it wore me down.  I was luck enough to move into a new position with peers that were not quite as email crazy and decided to put some stops to the 24/7 emails.

I decided no emailing from Friday after work until Sunday evening.  I also decided not to open my laptop and check email again after I had left work for the day (provided I didn’t cut out early for something).  It was hard at first, and it meant I had to learn to skim my mail in the mornings to ensure I responded to the most critical items first.  After a few weeks I was in a groove.  I was amazed at how stress relieving it was.

I also expanded my no emailing rule to cover vacations.  Though this one has proved a little harder- especially when I’m on vacation and everyone else is still working.  It’s pretty much a constant struggle to control my desire to check email.  I’ve learned that not brining my laptop helps alot.  I’ve also just set aside 30mins a day while on vacation to check in, do what i need, then get back to having fun.

As a project manger there are times when my projects get critical and we’re monitoring issues.  That’s when I’m thankfully for my blackberry and can do a few check-ins on a weekend or in the evening after dinner.  The key is making sure I just look at the hot items- not just browse emails coming in.

I like to think I’m setting a good example for my team and those I work with.  I don’t respond to emails in the evenings, weekends, or while I’m on vacation.  (if it’s really that important- they have my cell #).  I don’t expect them to respond to me in the evenings or while they are out either.