If you frequently check your work email at home, the title of this post probably already turns you off.
But I need to keep up with emails so I don't drown in them during the day. It’s not that big of a deal—it takes only a minute to open my mail app, delete some junk, and reply to a few urgent messages.
Yeah, it only takes a a minute that one time, until you’re checking your email before dinner . . . after dinner . . . during the nightly news . . . in bed . . . at 3:00 a.m. . . .
I’m always shocked when I get emails from professors in the early hours of the morning Part of me feels impressed: you show up to your 8:00 a.m. class energized and ready for discussion, but you sent us a handout at 4:30 a.m.? Kudos to you, professor.
But another part of me is appalled—don’t you have a family or a dog or someone to be with? Don’t you need sleep? Is your job that demanding that you need to stay up all night just to send an email to your students (who probably won’t read it before noon)?
Checking work email at home is sometimes necessary—but is often overdone. To convince you to stop checking your email quite so often, I’ve brought together my top arguments against work email at home:
It’s not an emergency
Think about it: it’s probably not that much of an emergency. Sure, there might be times where you’ll receive an email that requires immediate attention, but if there were a true emergency at your place of employment, I imagine email would not be the first line of communication. Whatever that email says, it can wait until morning.
It’s a distraction
Checking your work email at home distracts you from valuable time with your family, yourself, and God. If you have a spouse and/or children, the few hours you’re not in the office are precious moments that should be spent catching up, relaxing, and laughing. It’s easy to get sucked into work as your number-one priority, especially if you’re living alone, but it’s also important to work on your relationship with God in the quiet times—without the constant distraction of emails.
It takes up time
Checking your email takes up more time than you think. I know that it seems like it doesn’t take that long, but those two or three minutes every so often add up. They can equal a larger problem, like ignoring or avoiding conversations with loved ones or having no time to let your mind rest.
It’s bad for your health
Turns out checking your work email is bad for your health, according to this Daily Mail article. This simple activity can lead to anxiety, headaches, and heart issues . . . yikes.
If you’re still convinced you need to check your work email at home, set boundaries for yourself. Check it one time before you go to bed, or only twice after you leave the office. Have a spouse or roommate keep you accountable. Or promise yourself that you won't check it, and then reward yourself if you can go a week without breaking that promise!
Kicking this habit doesn’t mean emails have to take over your work day. You can try getting up and heading to the office a little earlier to tackle those emails first thing, or use some of these tips to optimize your time.
The bottom line? Your emails will still be there in the morning. Chances are nothing will drastically change after you get off at 6 o’clock! In the grand scheme of things, your family and your relationship with God are more important than replying to a co-worker with “Ok, I’ll check tomorrow.”