Why You Shouldn’t Send Business Emails On Sunday Night

Steve Boese Audacious Ideas, Communication, HR, Steve Boese

I’m writing this post on a Sunday night as I often do. Probably 90% of the posts on this blog are written on the weekend or at night while I’m watching NBA games on League Pass. (Side note: I have totally bought in to the Kristaps Porzingis hype. If he does not turn out to be an All Star I am going to be shocked and disappointed.)

But back to the point.

I’m writing this after what has been a mostly low-key and relaxing weekend. I didn’t really “work” at all this particular weekend, save for things I do for myself (this post, doing some research for future blog topics, thinking about guests for the HR Happy Hour Show), but those things are not really “work” to me. They are things I like to do. They are fun. Besides the NBA, I don’t have a lot of other hobbies.

But judging from a (very quick) glance at my email just before sitting down to this post, I noticed that quite a few folks out there were working (at least some) this weekend. Between Saturday and Sunday as of about 8PM, I probably received a dozen or so “business” or work-related kinds of emails. None of them could be called “urgent” by the way. But maybe that is not really all that many. And maybe you received a heck of a lot more work emails this weekend than that yourself, who knows. But the volume of messages isn’t really the point.

Here’s the point.

I was not really “working” this weekend. I was doing normal weekend things—eating out, going to the gym, even seeing my first movie (The Revenant… kind of overrated if you ask me) in ages. As I mentioned, the “work-like” things I was doing were all not really related to my official job(s)—the blog, the Happy Hour show, etc.

But then I noticed the dozen or so emails that I mentioned and kind of felt slightly bummed out. Not because I don’t enjoy the real work I do but because it was still the weekend and I was not really prepared mentally to dive into “work,” but the folks sending those emails to me over the weekend obviously would not have known that. Maybe they typically “work” more often on a Saturday or a Sunday than I do. Maybe they don’t have professional side projects like I do with the blog and podcast that take up my mental energy on the weekend. Or maybe they just felt like by emailing me (and everyone else they emailed over the weekend), that they would be at some sort of advantage for capturing my attention on Monday morning. Hard to say.

But what they might not know (unless they are reading this) is that I (and I am sure I am not the only one) really, really dislike having other people pushing “work” into my weekend just because they have decided it just fine with them to be working on said weekend. And, sure, I know just because I got a few emails on a Saturday or Sunday doesn’t then mean I have to answer them, or even read them for that matter.

But I don’t manage my phone notifications any differently on the weekend than I do normally. So after I turned my phone back on at the end of The Revenant, all of a sudden I was notified of about four or five emails that had come in during the movie. And even though it was midnight on Saturday, some folks out there at least made me think about working when all I was really trying to do was consider if Leo’s performance is Oscar worthy.

I know this sounds like the biggest whining nonsense that you have ever read, but the reason I wanted to post about this is not really so I won’t get any more emails on the weekend. It isn’t that big of a deal for me.

But if you are someone who routinely or at least occasionally sends these emails, it could be a bigger deal for what sending them makes people like me think about you—like you have no life, you have little sense of balance and perspective, and to the extreme, that you don’t care at all for the free time of the people you are messaging at 11:45PM on Saturday.

Almost everything can wait until Monday morning. If it is truly urgent and can’t wait, send a text. If you don’t have the person’s number to text them or you wouldn’t send a text based on the content of the message, then you probably shouldn’t send the email in the first place.

Work all you want on the weekend… heck I “work” a lot, too. But work on your own projects, improve your own skills, even work on your side gigs if you have some—but save the work you need to involve me with until the weekend is over.

OK, rant over.

Steve Boese
Steve Boese is fondly known to many as the HR Technology blogger. By day, he is the Co-Chair of Human Resource Executive's HR Technology Conference. He is also a former Director of Talent Management Strategy at Oracle and an HR Technology instructor. Steve can also be found hosting the HR Happy Hour Show and Podcast … you know, where a bunch of HR pros get together and call in to talk about HR stuff. Sounds like an SNL skit, we know. But when you have Dave Ulrich, the grandfather of HR as show guests, well, I guess you’re doing something right.  Talk to Steve via emailLinkedInTwitter or Facebook.