Take Back The Night from Email

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If late night email is taking over your life, there are ways to reclaim your space.

"Crazy times" at work are to be expected — busy periods when you're expected to work after hours to stay on top of things are par for the course in a demanding, fast-paced career.

But if you're sending emails well into the night at all times of the year, that might actually be a problem.

"You’re never taking that opportunity to rejuvenate...that will give you a fresh perspective at work," Maura Thomas, founder of RegainYourTime.com and writer for the Harvard Business Review, told Money Talking host Charlie Herman. "If you don't take time to recharge...you’re running on empty all the time."

Thomas said there are two reasons people chronically send late-night emails.

  1. Ambition: Your boss is sending emails late into the evening, and you want to impress by being prompt.
  2. Lack of attention management: You can't fight the itch to click that email icon on your smartphone when you're relaxing at home.

Thomas said there are simple ways to treat the condition, depending on the cause:

  • If your boss won't stop sending late night emails: Talk to your boss. Especially if your manager claims to want to foster a healthy work environment, she needs to follow through. Discuss what is actually expected of you as a member of the team and how you can get the quality time away from work that you need to keep performing while you work.
  • If you're the offending boss: If you have the technology available to you, schedule your emails to go out for the following morning. There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to get ahead on emails after hours, but you don't want to torment your employees in the process. 
  • If you can't stop checking/sending email after hours: It's probably a symptom of being scattered all the time. Distractions come at you from every direction at work. You get used to being interrupted at work, so when you get home, you continue to seek the distractions and pick up your phone and start clicking on your email. You work without meaning to. Thomas says one solution is to practice focus at work: set a timer and focus on one task. If it's feasible, turn off your email while you're working on something that takes your full attention. Practicing focus at work can help you do the same thing at home.

Thomas said taking back your off-time needs to be a conscious decision.

"There are things that are going to happen all the time," she said. The question is: "Do you want to be a part of every single thing that happens, or do you want to get away sometimes?"

Listen to Money Talking host Charlie Herman discuss some ways offices and individuals can try to cure a workaholic culture.

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