QUITTING THIS WEEK 9/22/16: Checking e-mail after hours

Let me be frank; I bitch a lot. I don’t think I complain so much as I just bitch. Fortunately my bitching is internal so usually I don’t burden or bother others with it but I do it. A lot.

One of the things I bitch the most about is how I can’t get away from my job. I have one of those little hand-held tyrants that rules my life and it’s constantly dinging and buzzing and lighting up all on its own. It has the persistence of a spoiled two year old that pulls on your sleeve saying “Dad? Dad?? Dad?! Dad??!!” If you have kids, you’ve been there.

I have let it interrupt me at all sorts of things. It horns in and inserts itself at parties, family get-togethers, meetings, while I drive; you get the picture. And I hate this about it but the fact of the matter is that it preys on my basic human curiosity. Even if I don’t hear the goofy noise it makes when an email comes in eventually I’m going to check my phone and I’ll notice that I have received email. A notice is on the screen even before I slide to unlock the phone. Then, even though they disappear once the screen is unlocked a little red number (don’t discount the power of red) appears next to the email icon on my phone. It’s insidious I tell ya!

So, throughout the time I’m away from my office I watch that number build. Five emails, 10 emails, 15, 20, 25; it’s like a Chinese water torture: drip, drip: drip. How much can I stand? When will I break? Unfortunately I’m a people pleaser and it pains me to not address someone’s questions even though they’re sending them to me at 9:30 on Sunday morning. So, I’ve finally decided, no more.

If it’s important, they’ll call me. Heck, I can even put an automatic reply on my email when I leave for the day to do just that IF it’s an emergency. The thing is, quitting this one thing won’t entirely remove me from the office for the 14 or so hours I’m not physically there. There’s still the goofy noise, the alert and the red numbers but I’m hopeful I’ll get used to those and they’ll bother me less.

Maybe I’ll learn that the business won’t burn down if I don’t answer that email at 8:53 on a Wednesday night or at 3:17 on Saturday afternoon. Maybe I’ll be less bothered by all those things. My hope is that it will ultimately let me disengage and make my time away from my job truly be away from my job. We shall see.

I’ll keep you posted here but I’m curious, how does your work intrude on your life outside of business hours?