Several years ago, an article by Tim Ferriss made me aware of the bad habit of sending “BIF” (Before I Forget) emails during off-hours. As the author of The 4-hour Workweek, explained, that sets an expectation of people working 24/7.
Soon afterward, I realized that I was guilty of sending another annoying type of email. I call it the Friday afternoon “Tag—You’re It.”
The first time I noticed this happening, my colleague Lori completed her work on a file and sent it to me early one Friday afternoon. I hated the thought of starting the weekend with another to-do on my list, so I quickly completed my work on the file and sent it back to her for the next action. She had cleared it off her to-do list before the weekend, but I had bounced it right back to her.
I’m all for completing your to-do list, particularly before the weekend, but recognize that your team members also want to enjoy that feeling of relief when they leave the office Friday afternoon. So don’t dump a load of new work on your colleagues just before they are ready to leave. Go ahead and draft your email, but set it for delivery on Monday. There’s no advantage to sending people assignments that they can’t—or shouldn’t—work on for days.
Of course there are exceptions. If there’s an unexpected assignment that will require someone to reprioritize or delegate other tasks, you shouldn’t blindside the person with that first thing Monday morning.
But as you wrap up your week, think about whether you are allowing your team members to leave the office Friday with the same clear mind that you will.
What are your best practices for sending email?
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