“Stop Sending Work Emails At 9 p.m.”


At my new job, I have a veteran colleague and mentor. As a special education teacher for three years, I have transitioned into a school-based IEP chair role. This is a higher-up position, and it’s actually pretty hard to explain to people what I do all day, but it’s busy and tedious work around the clock.

Anyway, my colleague often tells me I’m working too hard. But I never really feel like I’m not doing enough. There’s a neverending stream of work to be done — it’s not the same stress as the classroom, but it’s different. And it’s not as emotionally draining every day.

So, sometimes I work after hours to get things done. I set great boundaries with work (or at least I think I do), but I’m also in law school, in class from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Sometimes during law school, I’ll get distracted and do work-related tasks. During that time, I’ll send emails to my co-workers and teachers. Of course, some of these work emails send at 9 p.m. I send them because I don’t want to forget sending them and because I’d rather knock them out of the park then and there rather than later.

My mentor colleague told me to stop sending work emails at 9 p.m. She said it will lead to burnout and that I should relax more often, and that I was doing too much work.

This is a moment of flux, wanting to make sure I’m not utterly incompetent at the new parts of my life. I won’t deny there’s an ambitious part of me that’s eager to prove myself.

But I don’t know if it’s the most productive thing at the end of the day. I don’t know how many people actually check 9 p.m. emails, whether they’re relaxing, spending time with their families, or asleep. A lot of people resolve not to do so. Plus, you don’t want a late-night email to wake someone up.

For me, it’s about setting boundaries and cutting myself off work. But I won’t deny that I’m not working at all hours during work — I take breaks for myself and sometimes go on my phone for a bit, or allow myself to chill a bit instead of being super productive all the time. Because I have so much going on, I’ll do the work I feel like when I feel like it, and it’s like I’m possessed to get things done whenever there’s a pressing deadline.

I trust I’m always exactly where I’m supposed to be — if that means sending emails at 9 p.m. when I’m supposed to be paying attention in class, then so be it. It’s just how I work. In my mind, as much as I try not to prioritize my work, career, and school, I’m still in my mid-20s and don’t have kids yet, so that’s what goes through my head.

But not everyone operates with the same life philosophy or schedule as I. Not everyone is on the same schedule. Not everyone is as “go with the flow” and not boundary setting. I wonder if I’m hurting my team and disrespecting people in that manner.

Of course, there’s an easy solution for me. I can draft and send emails late at night, but I can also schedule them to actually send in the morning. It’s an astonishingly easy solution that will make everyone happy.

Even if you have your own schedule, you shouldn’t expect everyone else to operate on the same schedule. People have their own lives and their own priorities, and it’s essential to be respectful of those boundaries.

Sending emails on a timely basis takes discipline — at least it does for me. It demands a structured lifestyle.

But beyond “just don’t do it,” there are just times when things need to get done and they’re urgent — just not all the time.

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