Can we make a pact to stop sending internal work-related email over the holidays?
Creative-leader-mamas, if you're running the show or even part of the show for your organization, you may have some need to work during the holidays when others don't. Or at the very least, your vacation days may not line up with theirs. I get that. (Me, too.)
But when we work during an unusual stretch, we tend to send emails during that stretch. Lots and lots of emails. For people "to see when they get back." (Can you tell I've done this more than a few times?)
We're getting tasks, discussion points, and big new ideas off our plates and onto others' by popping them into their inboxes when no one is looking.
Except, people are looking. A huge number of people are looking at their work email outside work hours. Even over the holidays. And when those folks with their all-too-common email addictions see that big stack of for-when-you-get-back emails from you, one of two things will happen:
- They will--perhaps without realizing it--add to the pile of to-dos and to-think-abouts lingering in their subconscious and taking a little of the shine off their time away. Or...
- They will respond to you. And then you will have more emails in your inbox, and things will be back on your plate for your subconscious pile of to-dos and to-think-abouts over the holidays.
Neither of those things sounds like an outcome that's particularly helpful to you, your organization, or the people with whom you're trying to get things done.
So, if you do a little (or a lot) of work over the next two weeks, consider this:
- If you're knocking items off and drafting for-when-you-get-back emails, leave them in your draft folder. Put a little note on your calendar so that on December 29 or January 2 or January 5 (or whenever folks generally get back in your industry), you can hit send on all of 'em.
- If you've got something that needs attention as soon as someone walks back in the door, consider leaving a voicemail on their office line for them to let them know.
- And if you've got something so urgent that you just can't wait for them to get back, and it's gotta take precedence over their eggnog and their sparkly-eyed kids ... well ... it's probably urgent enough that you need to call their cell phone, so just do that and make it more expedient for everyone.
You are kind and intelligent--and your work, your creative projects, and your family are all important to you. This is one small way to be the kind of leader that honors those things in others, too.
And there's an excellent fringe benefit: You get fewer emails over the holidays too!
PS: I know there are some industries like retail and hospitality and emergency work that don't take a holiday at the holidays. I wish you a smooth end to 2014, and some joyous time away sometime soon.