There will always be another email.
Achieving work life balance is a topic that I post about frequently, because it is something I am navigating. I am also aware that I am not alone in this, I have conversations with my bestfriends (who don’t work in academia) and they are struggling too. One of the things that interrupts my balance is emails. As a teaching academic I get S O M A N Y emails. As per the title of this blog, there will A L W A Y S be another email to answer and/or send. So at some point we have to call it a night and the emails can wait until tomorrow. This is easier said than done, however these are my tips.
- Understand why it is important to take time away from your emails. This is something I have only recently realised. I would always tell myself ‘oh it is easy to answer a couple of emails while drinking my Saturday morning coffee’ so I thought that this didn’t impact ‘work life balance’. However it does. It is important to try to have at least a day off of work, completely, including no emails, per week. You need to wind down and emails don’t help with this.
- Try to avoid having your emails on your phone. This is something I have managed so far this year, although I do think next year I will cave and put them on my phone (I will post my techniques for managing this when I do). However if you don’t have to have your emails on your phone, don’t.
- Technique for managing urgent emails. This will vary depending on your role, however for my courses I have tutors who work after hours and on the weekend (a key part of this role is emails). I provide my tutors with my mobile number and tell them to text if there is an urgent email (e.g. a distressed student). This way I only need to check my emails on a day off if it is generally urgent.
- Think about the emails you send. The stress of emails is a two way street. If you are about to send an email that requires a response on a Friday at 5pm, consider if it is important to send then or could you put a delay send on so that it arrives in a person’s inbox on Monday morning. This way that person won’t feel obliged to reply.