I understand the lure. It’s the weekend or you’re on holiday and your work phone pings. Or perhaps you walk by it on a desk and get the urge to ‘catch up’.
We’ve all been classically conditioned to check our phones.
So you sneak away for 2 minutes to check in to see if there’s anything urgent. Next thing you know you’re elbows deep in work emails, you’re mind is in corporate mode and your stress levels are rising.
Today in Canada is ‘Family Day’. Presidents Day in the US. Yet, just 10 minutes ago I felt the pull to check my work phone.
In a flash, I saw dozens of unread messages. Suddenly the final moments of my long weekend turned from relaxing until the sun rises to dreaded anticipation for the shit-storm about to hit in the morning. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just the ordinary, regular, daily shit-storm that we call work.
Repulsed at what I had just done, I quickly put the phone back down and walked back to my family and comfort of my living room. I’ll deal with it all tomorrow. Of course, I now must pay the price for my curiosity with a cortisol spike pushing through my bloodstream.
I spent no more than 30 seconds looking at my phone, but it was enough to see I received a dozen emails over the past 3 days – Saturday, Sunday and a holiday Monday.
Who the fuck is sending me emails when they should be spending time with their families or on leisure pursuits? I understand the drive to get ahead, but if productivity is really the siren’s call then why not learn a skill or read a book? Why attempt to ruin your colleagues’ Sunday with the Monday-to-Friday chaos?
Are these people bored? Do they have no interests outside of work? Or are they trying to cultivate the 24/7 workaholic image, which is celebrated in North American culture?
Worse, do they feel pressured by their peers to check their emails? After all, there’s nothing worse than being 2 days behind on a crisis.
Regardless of the reason, it’s unhealthy.
We already devote 5 out of 7 days to work, and much of the remaining two days is spent preparing for Monday. There’s already no such thing as a work-life balance. We don’t need to make it worse by answering emails on a Sunday.