Email is great. I love it. Such a quick, efficient and immediate means of communication. Many of us use it and for good reason. Whenever I have a corridor conversation with a colleague I always make sure that I follow it up with an immediate email to summarise the conversation and to keep a record lest we forget.
We use it to pass on:
- important information,
- agenda and minutes of meetings (although these could be killed in one stone by just sharing a Google Doc agenda but more on that another time),
- information about report deadlines,
- information on students,
- reminders of deadlines,
- templates for documents,
- and so much more.
As more and more of us become connected educators, we will put our work email onto our mobile devices, phones and tablets. We will want to stay punctual with our responses to these contacts too so we will often have push notifications set on these devices so we can stay informed of when messages come in. Turning push notifications off however can be a bit of a drag given the multiple steps required to turn them off and then on again, so we often leave them turned on.
The problem with leaving these notification on however is that we still receive those notifications when we are having some down time. For example when we are enjoying time relaxing with family on the weekend, doing the shopping, on holiday, so forth and so on.
This post is going to ask you to think about how and when you send your email messages.
You may choose to work over the holidays. You may choose to work over the weekend. You may choose to get up early and work at 4am. You may be a late bird and choose to to work at 1 or 2am. The key thing to remember is that many of your colleagues will not and they are entitled to holidays, weekends, evenings and sleep.
My request to you is to think about using one of two features available in most email clients:
- scheduled emails
By all means, write your emails, collate your reports, create reminder emails for colleagues, so forth and so on. Please though, think about ‘when’ you send them. Why not write them and then save them to your drafts and send them when you get into work the next day?
Ask yourself this question… is a colleague reading your email a day early going to make the job you’re asking to be done completed any earlier? Is the reminder you’re sending to colleagues something which they need to be reminded about on a weekend? Are these emails that you would have been better sending during work hours the week before? Could these things be done in a more timely fashion? Are you sending this information out when you are because you aren’t as well organised as you could be?
Ok, sure – sometimes it’s important to send email out of office hours, for example if there’s a snow day or a closure for other reasons or in a dire circumstance such as the death of a colleague. These circumstances are fine, I am sure. However, sending an email at 8pm to let all staff know about something for the next day that you could have let them know about during office hours or a few days before really isn’t on, is it?