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Why You Should Never Check Work Email at Night

Topics: Career Advice

Checking email at night can be bad for your health, did you know? And this isn’t about clicking the “nightshift” button on your iPhone for some (supposedly better) orange tones on your screen, it’s about boundaries. Just like when you silence your ringer in movie theaters, or turn off your device for takeoff and landings, it’s just plain good common sense to let work stay at work.

phone in bed
Image Credit: kizilkayaphotos/Getty Images

Constantly Doing Something Is Bad for You

Just like repetitive stress injuries, studies show that working all the time hurts the body (and likely the soul, but that’s for you to figure out in the afterlife). Other countries take these risks more seriously. In fact, France passed some recent legislation aimed at helping workers abstain from answering their boss’ emails after the workday is over. (I’m assuming while they drink wine and eat a baguette, oui?)

Yes, Answering Emails Can Be Stressful

There are plenty of studies that show that stress is bad for you, and working all the time can be stressful, but you probably don’t need to be told that. If you’re someone who checks emails all night, you don’t need to wonder why you wake up exhausted. A French lawmaker who spoke to the BBC remarked, “Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash – like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails – they colonize the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.”

Disconnecting Is OK (Really)

Powering down for the night lets you rest and restore your energy for the next day. If managers let their workers off the hook for being available 24/7, then the power struggle starts to ease up. No longer would you have to worry about disappointing your boss or not living up to unspoken expectations about doing your best at work (at home).

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Alison Green at Ask a Manager offers suggestions about what managers can do to help their employees disconnect: “If someone doesn’t truly need to be hyper-connected to work outside of normal work hours, you might even suggest they consider removing their work email account from their phone — or at least turning it off on the weekends.”

How to Get Disconnected

Try to do simple things so you won’t be tempted to check work emails at home. Take your work email address off your phone so you don’t get pings when or if you get a message. Definitely keep the phone off when you’re on vacation so you get time to download. Talk to managers about expectations for working after hours. Can emails wait until the workday starts again? If you need to be available for on-call time, can you get compensated for that availability later on? Working all the time doesn’t have to be the norm. You just have to take the first step, and power down.

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