End the Work Day

dramatic orange sunset

When is your work day completely over?

In the last week, there have been two times that I have ignored my kids after reading emails in the evening that worked me up and claimed my mental attention.  As I mentioned in prior posts, my official email stop time is at 8 p.m., so in both cases I was following my strategy. And in both cases, I failed at focusing on what matters most.

Maybe you are better than me, and never allow emails to irritate you.  After all, I don’t blame the senders of either email.  The only person I can control is myself.

But still, what are we giving up checking email well into the night?

What are we even proving?

Anyone can respond quickly.  More problematic, when we tirelessly pursue the never-ending cycle of being “on” and being available, we inevitably become “burned out,” crabby, and thoughtless because no one has the bandwidth to craft thoughtful messages 24/7.

Occasionally, I hear leaders say that their team needs them to respond.  If so, maybe they built the wrong team?

Upon reflecting on this, I have decided to stop checking email past 6 p.m. on work nights.  This is hardly revolutionary, but it is a change for me, and a win for my kids and wife.  To be sure, I informed my team of this change and told them that I am always available in the case of an emergency via my cell phone.  In fact, I prefer to have actual conversations over texting and emails (what a thought!).  They can call me if they need me, but 99% of the time they won’t.

Maybe the time I have chosen does not work for you.  I know one CEO who does a lot of her work in the late afternoon and evening.  She also has a much slower start to her day, with plenty of time for thinking, journaling, and meditating.

The point is that you can’t always be on, and it takes intentionality to set boundaries around your work hours.

The work day simply has to end.

(Anyone reading this from Hoffer Plastics, please identify when you are stopping.  Let people know how they can get a hold of you in case of an emergency, and give yourself a break!  We will be better for it).

As I often say to our team members, I don’t want your spouses and kids hating me because you work too much.

Neither do I want my kids growing to hate Hoffer Plastics because Daddy is always focused on business.

The stakes are that high.