Is having the last word affecting our ability to shut off?

Career, Wellness

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt very productive. I was making phone calls, cleaning out my inbox, and making headway on my current projects.   As I inched closer to the end of day I set mini goals for myself so finalize a few things. E-mails were sent, items were checked off, and I thought I was heading home in a reasonable amount of time while still leaving the office in great shape!

Then I got a reply.   It only needed a quick answer and I had already read the e-mail so I figured it was a better use of time to just reply back now. (Notice the beginning of a bad habit creeping up…)  Before I knew it I was two hours past my set leaving time, late for a personal engagement, and technically, no further ahead.

As I was determined to leave with all my e-mails answered and to dos checked off, I was persistently trying to have the last e-mail sent.  This was not my first attempt at this ground-breaking idea…

So what does this mean? It means we’re all working late that’s for sure (as email communications are a two way street). It also means that we all struggling with trying to limit the piling up of emails, missing out on updates (F.O.M.O), or falling behind, that we sacrifice our personal time to stay “real time” with work.

The bigger question is, does this keep us ahead? Of course there are times where it does, but consistently sacrificing our downtime and keeping our stress levels supercharged is not sustainable. It’s a one step forward, two-steps back strategy. Eventually we suffer, the symptoms begin to show (such as we are tired and irritable, unable to shut off and sleep, our eating and exercise habits become affected), and we begin to lose focus on what really matters in life. (Check out this great article, “The Top 5 regrets people reveal on their deathbed”)

The BBC recently posted an article on, “Could work emails be banned after 6pm?” in response to France’s initiative to protect employees from work email disturbing them outside office hours.  The article poses, “Would a law to this effect be feasible elsewhere?”

Another article of consideration to this topic is, “Thursday is the New Friday: Embracing the 4-Day Work Week” by Ilya Pozin. Which suggests changing the work day structure to allow for longer days (which I’m sure we are all, already doing anyways) and a three day weekend.

Both of these articles are great and theory but have their own set of challenges if these practices are not universal.

The last article I’d like to leave you with is by one of my favorites, Gregory McKeown, “There Are Only Two Kinds of Email You Get On The Weekend

We all must be realistic with what we can accomplish within a reasonable amount of time in a day. There are definitely times where we need to put in the extra hours but as far as getting the last word, or in my case, sending out the last e-mail is not possible and therefore a futile plan.