Stop Your Late-Night Email Cycles

Many of us have been in the situation where we realize something for work after working hours. No time like the present, we let our smart phones do the walking and send our teams that late night email. It seems harmless enough but is it?

A rare email after hours is harmless enough, however if it’s more habit i.e., several days in a week, a month; you’re hurting your team.  Why you do you ask? Simply put you’re driving a 24/7 type of culture in your company. Your team will feel obligated to be “on” at all times versus the specific busy times.

If late night emails are common behavior for you, you’re missing the opportunity to get some distance from work, and distance that is critical to a fresh perspective you need as the leader, while you are denying this same opportunity to your team. Let’s face it when the boss is working, the team feels like they should be working. All it takes is that one meeting where a few in the group voice, “when we were emailing last night…” or “we completed this over the weekend…”. This causes pressure for those who were not involved to be involved. Those start fearing, I will be poorly evaluated as a key member of the team/company if I’m not seen as committed as others.  This is how the company culture begins to change.

Experiments show that we need downtime, our bodies crave it.  In fact if we don’t get that down time, adverse symptoms will start to show including, stress, insomnia, depression. Being “always on” hurt employee effectiveness long term. When employees are constantly monitoring their email after work hours, they are missing out on key down time that they need. Employees can never disconnect when they’re always reaching for their devices to see if you’ve emailed, don’t add to their device addiction – be opposite and foster a better culture and expectation. I had one boss, who held this conversation with me, and it stayed.  ‘Lets work hard during the day, then enjoy your evening because you’ve earned it.  It will all be here for you the next day don’t worry, it’s a never ending cycle.’  It’s like the old saying work hard, play hard – that’s the work-life balance we all crave.

Creativity, inspiration, and motivation are your competitive advantage, but they are also depletable resources that need to be recharged. Incidentally, this is also true for you, so it’s worthwhile to examine your habits as a leader and ensure your not hurting your team/employees.  A few helpful tips, if you are going to email at night – send it to draft and send in the morning. Resist the all appealing ‘send’ button.  Or if your email client has a rule option, set up rules that emails from you after x time and before x time, be sent at 8:00am.  Lastly, ensure your consistent with your employees by not rewarding them on late night emails and their expectations of an answer from you after hours.  It’s important that if there is a dire situation or issue an employee knows they can reach you by phone.

Walk the walk and set the standard leaders, your teams will thank you and you’ll have in return more effective and satisfied employees. I know I have had some of the best teams because of this one mantra I’ve held as a leader and manager.  Granted some will continue the bad habit, you need to push as a leader this is not your expectation and work with your team to get them back to the work day productivity or reassess your teams assignments.

What are some ways you can influence a change in your teams to stop the late night email cycle?

The Work/Life Balance Fallacy

Great post! Ties in with other things I’ve been reading lately. As this blog notes, time waits for no one and having balance is a lie.

2HelpfulGuys

When we were children, time didn’t occur to us. All our activities fit perfectly into the day. Unless the sun was going to bed, our time seemed endless, wistfully passing by.

Our parents dealt with our schedules, moving and shifting around hockey practices with dentist appointments. Our lives were handled in their responsible care and we were blissful.

Soon after, we matured into self-sustaining adults with our own work schedules and responsibilities. We began to focus on time; trying to fit all the minutiae tightly in.

Then, we became obsessed with time. We became obsessed with balance. It seems that most of us endlessly sought a balanced life.

However, the ‘balanced life’ does not exist.

One of life’s biggest lies is the notion of a balanced life. Nothing ever achieves absolute balance. Nothing.

Between professional and personal life, striving for that perfect balance is most peoples’ mislead goal that they find…

View original post 794 more words

Meeting Torture Denied

Do you feel like you spend half of your time in meetings? Do you feel like a majority of them get in the way of the ‘real’ work? If you feel like this, chances are most of these meetings are not fulfilling their purpose because they are boring, too-long and not directed.

Coworkers Getting Bored

“A meeting moves at the speed of the slowest mind in the room. (In other words, all but one participant will be bored, all but one mind underused.)” ~ Dale Dauten

Like many of you out there, my time is eaten up by the torture of meetings. I’ve even had days where I had to schedule my own relief break otherwise my bladder would have gone on strike and made a mess of my office. I can certainly make myself mobile, but if you’ve ever been on a teleconference where you heard the toilet flushing you try to avoid being that person at all cost. Plus taking cell phones into the bathroom should be illegal.

Lastly, we tend to multi-task because this is the only way we can truly get our job done; although now there are arguments that multi-tasking is inefficient and not logical. This begs the question – do you need to be at all these meetings? Is a meeting really necessary?

Here are some questions for you to apply when joining and/or facilitating a meeting:

  1. Is the meeting discussion driven or information giving? It can be both, but if it’s only information giving send an email to update the intended attendees instead of holding the meeting. Or if the meeting isn’t mandatory, wait for the meeting minutes and skip it.
  2. Is the meeting a forum for a large or small group? This is important, because once it becomes a large group the interaction is gone and usually ends up misdirected by individual needs – might as well send an email or memo update instead or have focused smaller meetings they are more productive that way. If you need to cascade messages downward and onward, get these messages consolidated with clear directives use your middle management.
  3. Do you have an agenda for the meeting? If not build one or don’t have the meeting. A meeting without a goal is not a successful meeting. If you can’t put together what the objective is of the meeting, there is no reason to have it. Remember ‘to inform’ can be done in another forum of communication that doesn’t spend valuable time of you and your employees. The meeting needs to convey an action – decide, plan or choose there is not good rationale otherwise.

Bored panel of judges or interviewers

“A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.” ~ James T. Kirk

The test of a good meeting is when the original objective of the meeting has been met; where there is a sense of closure and accomplishment. Stop the torture of useless meetings it’s a murder that is justified; it’s a waste of valuable time and the real work that needs to be done. A pet peeve is to have a meeting for meetings sake that drives nothing but those facilitating the meeting to their egos. Enough I say. I hope the questions above help you in downsizing your meetings so that your days – weeks are more manageable and more productive.

Do you have some additional tips/tricks that save you from meeting torture? If so I’d love to hear them, please share in the Comments below.

If you liked this post hit the Like button or Vote let me know, helps me to drive topics that are enjoyed.

Don’t Give Your Job Your Tombstone

Sure all of us do it in some form or fashion, pour ourselves into our careers.  In my field it’s very common that a 40 hour work week is not just a 8 hour a day job.  It typically is up and down depending on the projects, clients, and Balancing work and private lifeadministrative activities that are demanding our time.

It was about 6 years ago, when I was complaining about my job.  I was feeling like my career progression was stifled and I was a working more in a 50 hour a week capacity as the norm.  On top of running myself all around with a two young children, while managing the household.  My company was thrilled with my work, but I was fed up and completely worn out.  Something had to change and I began to evaluate and question what I was doing.  My key question was does the pay change if I worked what’s expected? The answer was no.  Then why was I killing myself?

The problems and issues of the day not withstanding; would be there tomorrow if not answered today, and my compensation was the same.  I finally came to conclusion that when I died, I didn’t want my tombstone to say “She did a great job at company X.”  My resolve was set; below are my tips to ensure I put in my time and move on.

  1. The Wrap Up – Toward the end of everyday (usually 2 hrs before quitting time) I review what tasks are left of the day and assess what I must squeeze in and work to complete it.  If there isn’t anything, hurray I start to assess the next day.  I’m a total technology person and use the task list in Outlook with reminders to keep me organized, nothing like marking something complete – total rush of accomplishment.  If I can get ahead, I get ahead and hope for banking time later in the week.
  2. The Shut Down – When it’s time to shut down, do so without apprehension. Organize your day for tomorrow, file away or clean up as applicable, then close the preverbal door.  If you have a smart device that keeps you connected to work, my policy is I’m done, unless someone calls and we need to chat – emails are for the morning the next day.  Make it a habit.  One tool I use on my company device that is golden is the Do Not Disturb mode set for 10pm – 6:30am.  I line manage, so it’s important for my team to reach me but not while I’m sleeping.  I will get your voicemail in the morning.  Sleep is my coveted activity and work is not allowed in that space.
  3. The Wake Up – Next day, breathe in – breathe out and only review that smart device as you get into the office or if you must at breakfast.  It’s important to avoid reviewing the smart device in bed when you first wake up.  Why? Because that’s your personal time, and you need your routine for you in the morning.  Take the time for you, it’s important.

I work to keep true to my time on the job and add some flexibility when I take a longer lunch or need run errands in which I can make up some time because of the work I do.  I’ve learned better time management skills as a result.  Also, make no mistakes I’m not in perfect compliance on the above, mostly #3 is where I cave, especially if I’m waiting on something important.

In many cases, we are not all working in our dream jobs.  That’s okay, our jobs are the supplement to our lives that support and give us the financial means to support our families, allow us vacations, ability to indulge in other outlets and hobbies.  Don’t make that job more than what it is – give to it what it gives to you in the best way possible.  Don’t drive yourself into the ground if the pay your making doesn’t change as a direct result of the quality good hours your putting in.

Your life should be more than your job and your tombstone should be reflective of that.  You never hear of the person on their death bed wishing they had done more work.

*  *  *

If you liked this post – In the comments below tell me if any of the tips are something you will use or if you have others what are they?  I’m all about the sharing 🙂

Please show the love and like/share this post.  Love hearing from you!