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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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