Whatever Happened to Sunday? Welcome to a Life Without Downtime

3d man onlineYou may remember when department stores were closed on Sunday and only opened one night a week for shoppers who worked. Or, you may recall how you enjoyed the luxury of life without email.

Tuning Out

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?

Reducing Stress

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.

Overcoming Stress Beating Anxiety Jumping Over WordIf 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.

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  1. As a freelance editor and writer, I keep thinking that I’m going to confine my activities to five days a week, but it never happens. Every day without fail, I get up, feed the cats and turn on the computer, and it stays on for the most part until I go to bed at night. If I didn’t do this, I couldn’t pay the bills. My “social media” interaction consists primarily of checking emails. I’m doing taxes right now and sweating out the fact that the money I had set aside for the first quarter of this year has gone to rent and 2012 taxes because of scheduling and payment snags not of my own doing. There has to be a better way to live.

  2. In earlier career days, I spent a great deal of time in the field establishing relationships that resulted in very positive and productive outcomes. Today, my job comes with greater requirements to be more present and “in the office,” while still expecting results that come from networking and one-to-one connections with people. What social media has provided for me is a direct link to people on the outside; in other words, the community I need to reach now comes right into my office. It’s not the same as having a cup of coffee with a prospect or decision-maker, but it is an amazing alternative that yields fruit. I don’t view it as a burden or unhealthy addiction. Rather, I believe it’s not only my safety net, it’s my Appian Way to the community I need to reach.

  3. We can create our “Sundays” or “Sunday moments” anytime we choose. But, it does require effort and practice. After all, it took effort and practice to lose them in the first place. Agree about technology too…ask yourself, “Do I really need to take my cell phone with me into the movies?…or restaurant? or church?” If JFK, who led our country during a challenging period, could make time for his infamous 15 afternoon naps, the surely, we can carve out times of peace, reflection, and rest in our own worlds.

  4. I really enjoyed this article. I am presently working on developing the discipline to allow a true day off on the weekend. When you work from home and so much is done on the computer, it is a challenge. My “itchy fingers” want to check mail, start an article or work on my calendar. What I have found is if I can hold off and enjoy the day it usually is a bigger benefit to my mental and spiritual health.

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