I am as guilty as anyone of working on the weekends. Its weird though, I used to be able to spend a couple hours working on a Saturday morning and then disconnect for the rest of the weekend. Ever since COVID shut us down, I feel a need to stay connected to work 24/7. I know I am not alone–you are feeling the same way, aren’t you? The umbilical cord that seems to keep us connected all the time is email. Even though I try to disconnect on the weekend, I find myself checking email constantly. I have to literally put my phone away, on airplane mode, to stop myself. And that only works sometimes.
As a school principal, I know that staff feels the need to stay connected in the same way I do. But, it’s not healthy. We are more than educators. We are parents, aunts, brothers, friends, cousins, and whole people. The facets of our lives other than school deserve our attention, preferably every evening and all weekend. And, if we can’t get away from email entirely on weeknights, it would be wonderful to know that we don’t have to worry about group emails on the weekends. Here are 7 reasons to avoid sending emails on the weekends.
- To model self-care: There have been times in my career where it felt like a competition for who could work the most hours, and that is not a healthy way to live. Prioritizing self-care and friends and family on the weekend helps us refresh and renew for the week ahead, and that helps us do our best work for students. We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others.
- To increase the chances that our emails will be read: When I get a lengthy group email on a Saturday night, I open it, ask myself why the person sent it on a Saturday night, and then work hard to forget about it while I focus on my family. Then, I get busy on Monday morning, new emails come in, and before I know it, that Saturday night email is truly buried and forgotten. If we want our email messages to be read and acted upon, sending them at a time that teachers will likely be checking and reading email is helpful. Send it mid-morning on Monday so teachers will see it when they check their email at lunch. Send it mid-afternoon so teachers will read it when they check their email before leaving for the night.
- To communicate respect: How many times have we read a weekend work email that starts with, “I hope you aren’t reading this until Monday morning…” and chuckle because OF COURSE we are checking our email at 10:30pm on Friday night! Holding off on email during the weekend sends a message to others that we respect their down time. It is like saying, “I care enough about you to not risk interrupting your precious weekend, so I am going to schedule this email to hit your inbox at 2pm on Monday rather than 2pm on Saturday.”
- To avoid causing others to feel guilty for NOT working on the weekend: As a whole, we educators are really hard on ourselves and we feel guilty for stepping away from work, even on the weekends. When we see a lengthy, detailed, elaborate email from our boss or colleague hit our inbox on a Sunday morning, we tend to feel guilty for taking time for ourselves or our families. My self-care might be sneaking in a few hours to work on a weekend morning because I feel so far behind, but I certainly do not want my few hours of work to cause others to feel guilty about not working.
- To use technology tools that increase our efficiency: There are tools like the Boomerang Chrome extension that allow us to schedule our emails so on the occasion that we do need to spend a little time working on the weekend, we can schedule the email to go out at the perfect time on Monday. Gmail has a feature that allows you to “send later”. Even if you are not tech-savvy, you can draft your email on the weekend and then send it out early the next week.
- To remember that MY emergency is not YOUR emergency: I might wake up on a Saturday thinking, “Oh darn, I forgot to communicate such-and-such!”. However, 9 times out of 10, my emergency is not anyone else’s emergency. I challenge myself to save up as many messages as I can throughout the week to include in our weekly staff update. Surprisingly, just about everything can wait a couple days.
- To make Monday mornings more enjoyable: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to check your work email on Monday morning to find a couple messages rather than a flooded inbox? Working our way slowly back into the work week sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I have been working hard to celebrate Mondays at least as much as I celebrate Fridays and having a manageable inbox would greatly help the cause. If you are going to join me in trying to avoid sending group emails on Monday, let’s also try to vary the time we schedule our Monday emails to go out so they hit inboxes throughout the day rather than all at once.
There are way more than 7 reasons to avoid sending group emails on the weekend. What other ideas did you come up with? Share them in the comments or tweet them out using #SerendipityEDU. If you are wanting to up your email game even higher, check out tips to Email to Inspire, Not Baffle.