August 17, 2009
The Sunday night e-mail check
On Sunday, a source I hadn't been able to reach during the workweek for an article I'm writing about labor laws and work/life balance called. She'd just picked up my voice message and was calling from her vacation in the San Juans.
Amused by the irony, I posted as much on Twitter:
"Just interviewed a work/life balance advocate. On a Sunday. She called me from her vacation."
Seven people retweeted my post within an hour or so, which is a lot for my little corner of the Twitterverse, especially for a weekend. Among their comments:
"Can't decide if this is funny or sad!"
"Hey. She's ON vacation, right? :) That's something."
What my Twitter pals and I failed to acknowledge was that we, too, were online on a gorgeous Sunday. I don't know what their excuses were, but I was in my office trying to squeeze in a little research for the article in question when my source called.
I'm not convinced that this is a case of the work/life balance blogger having no balance though. For many years, I've been a fan of checking my e-mail and upcoming week's to-do list on Sunday afternoon or evening, just so I know what Monday has in store for me. (By the time Sunday night rolls around, I often can't remember what I promised myself and my clients I'd do on Monday morning.) In yesterday's case, I knew I had such a busy week ahead that slipping in a couple hours of research on a sunny Sunday seemed less painful than having to work 11 or 12 hours on Monday.
I'm certainly not the only one who does the Sunday night work prep or e-mail check. I've known dozens of colleagues over the years -- staffers and freelancers alike -- who do the same. And last summer, readers of this blog had a lively discussion on the pros and cons of checking work messages and sneaking in a little work during weekends and vacations.
In the past month, a number of employees have told me that checking e-mail and voice mail after hours is just par for the course in today's needed-it-three-days-ago work world. Right or wrong, they said, if you want to keep up -- heck, if you want to keep your job at all these days -- you'll stay on top of work correspondence and developments, even during your downtime.
Readers, what do you think about the Sunday evening e-mail check? Are you for or against it?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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