Once upon a time, I took time off work and was able to fully switch off. These days that feels impossible. I have a few days off this week, but I can tell you now that I'll be charging my work phone every day so that I can check my emails. All for the sake of not having to be confronted with a deluge of messages on my return.
However, I have got better at setting myself some limits for the sake of my wellbeing. For instance, I might check my emails when I get home or during the weekend but I don't respond. So I was delighted to hear Royal Mail GC Maaike de Bie tell the Law Society Division Annual Conference last week that she doesn't email colleagues after 7pm or during the weekend unless the matter is urgent. De Bie's commitment has had a positive effect within the business. When emails are sent late in the day, they often begin with an apology. 'People are more considerate,' de Bie says.
Colleagues in the business would also come to the legal team at the last minute, for instance urgently needing sign off for a presentation with the CEO. 'We would have to work through the evening or all night with not much information or time to get it sorted,' de Bie recalls. Now, colleagues know that if they want a legal argument, the legal team needs a week. If they ask for a legal 'view' it's three days. Less than 24 hours' notice will get them a 'steer'.
Managing other people's expectations is challenging, especially when colleagues and clients are based in different time zones or even just different ideas of when the working day starts and begins. But if you want to avoid burnout or even worse, you need to set some boundaries. Check your emails after 7pm if you have to, but wait until the morning to reply. Send an email after 7pm if you have to, but don't expect a reply until the following day.
Hope you have a nice evening.