Millions of people will observe two major religious holidays in about five weeks – Easter and Passover. If you are one of them, be honest. Will you turn off your smart phone and ignore the never-ending stream of email? If you don’t, then you’re also among the millions who have been sucked into the 24/7 life.
Whatever happened to Sunday and a day of rest, much less the evening hours for yourself during the week? Early Puritans were adamant about attending church on Sunday. That time was sacrosanct. Blue laws that were designed to observe a day of worship and forbade the sale of alcohol on Sundays have mostly disappeared.
Today, even on the weekend, everything is treated as “urgent.” How about people who don’t sleep and send emails at 4 in the morning? Do you feel obliged to check email as soon as you wake up?
Are there any boundaries anymore between work and a having a personal life?
In a recent study, employees who went without email for five days reported feeling less stressed and were better able to do their jobs. It’s difficult to imagine that scenario happening in real life.
There is a bit of a backlash against the deluge of email and the hidden costs of email addiction. Many people have given up trying to answer all the emails they receive to reduce their stress.
If you’re in the client service business, though, you don’t have that luxury. It’s important to understand the email preferences of clients and other business colleagues. Ask if they want to be contacted on the weekend or evenings for any reason other than an emergency. Maybe they’d like some space in their lives, too. They could resent your sending an email.
Try to set ground rules for your peace of mind as well. Suggest to the client that you will always answer an email by the end of the business day. If it’s an emergency, you will respond as soon as you can.
This obviously wasn’t acceptable for former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose “…aides operate under a Quinn-imposed ‘15-minute rule’: e-mails or text messages from the speaker must be acknowledged within a quarter of an hour, or there will be consequences,” according to a New York Times article.
What Do You Think?
We’d welcome your thoughts about this growing problem of email-itis:
- Do you appreciate receiving information on weekends?
- Do you send emails to clients or suppliers on weekends or in the evenings? Are they OK with it?
- Should there be some general guidelines about carving out downtime to recharge your batteries?
- What techniques do you use to “tune out”?
- Do you resent when people don’t answer your emails right away?
Please share your thoughts in the comment box. You will be helping other readers who are attempting to cope with living business 24/7.