Nights & Weekends – Conquering Your Inbox – Part Three
While many of us small business owners use the quiet “after hours” time to get caught up on things that we weren’t able to take care of during the peak of our workday, having some true downtime away from work is critical to your successful rest and recovery before a new day begins. And with so many more of us working from home or having additional access to work files from home due to the pandemic, it’s all too easy to “just keep working”…. but we really do need to take a break.
Here are my final tips on how to check your inbox on nights and weekends to stay on top of things, but without getting fully sucked back into work by doing so.
Do another quick rundown on your phone and delete junk, reply to easy emails, forward as needed and then leave the bigger to do’s for the morning (see blog #1 for a recap of this process). This is also a great way to catch any potential changes to tomorrow’s schedule early on (i.e. – a customer needs to move or cancel an estimate, etc.) and avoid being surprised in the morning. The critical thing with the nightly clear out is to do it early enough so that it doesn’t affect the rest of your evening routine (which should include something to help you decompress before turning in for the night), but late enough to still make a quick phone call if needed to adjust for the next day. I’d suggest somewhere between 7 – 8 pm.
Over The Weekend:
I still clear my inboxes over breakfast of all the junk, reply and forward as needed and then … wait for it … I leave the rest. 😳 This has been a challenge for me – seeing that red number on my mail icon ticking up – but we all need to rest at some point, and Monday has a way of showing back up pretty quickly anyway.
If you normally dedicate part of your Saturday to work, then go ahead and answer your emails as you would on any other workday. Otherwise, I encourage you to resist the urge to check your work email more than 3 times a day over the weekend. While it may seem harmless to check your phone while waiting in line, hanging out with your family, or relaxing on a Sunday afternoon, it’s all too easy to head down the rabbit hole and get caught up in something that was “only going to take a minute.”
And just because we all carry our inboxes around in our pockets now, doesn’t have to mean your office is open 24/7. As a “customer”, I send emails and leave voice messages over the weekend because that’s when I’m home and have the time to do so, but I do so knowing that I most likely won’t hear back until Monday, and that’s perfectly acceptable. If you’re fielding incoming leads and have a way to schedule appointments electronically without too much hassle, go for it. Otherwise, remember that almost every other professional service industry has established working hours that we’ve all grown accustomed to and accept, and your business doesn’t have to be any different. Decide what works best for you, make the parameters clear to your team and your customers, and then most importantly, honor them. 😊 And if you don’t want to leave emails “unanswered” over the weekend, set up a auto-responder with a short message to confirm receipt and that you’ll be back in touch on Monday.
Now, go relax and enjoy the weekend to the fullest. 🙌🏼
Bonus Post – “Vacation Mode” – Yes, I had the nerve to go on vacation. Read more here about how I handle email while away.