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Boundaries: Hard for This Workaholic

I’m always very honest in my blog posts and I have to admit that I don’t like seeing email in my queue. I try to get to the emails as quickly as possible. And, I don’t like seeing several hundred emails on Monday mornings. This means that I do respond to work emails during the weekend. Now, I don’t respond to all of them, as I will flag some noting that they are higher priority come Monday and then others I will respond to in a timely (immediately through the next 24 hours) manner. I have now taken to responding to some student emails and stating that I will get to their email (answer their query) on Monday and also state, “It’s the weekend, I hope that you enjoy it.”

I know that I’ll hear from people who swear that they don’t respond to students’ emails over the weekend or that no one at their campus does. Cue Bill Cosby acting like Noah and saying, “Riiiight” at the 58 second mark or 1.17.  It’s not that I don’t believe these people–it’s just that my reality is that if I don’t respond in about 24 hours, I hear repeatedly from the student. I rather say that I got the email and will attend to it. I also will make a point of responding to all emails when an assignment is due the next Monday. It’s the nature of my job and the students who I work with in the department. I also am responsible for this access, I know. Some will tweet me or Facebook message me. I am a heavy user of social media and this is one cost–access to me and my time. I am not going to complain, but I will try to have some work life balance.

I am trying to set a good example for my kids, co-workers, and the Teaching Assistants who report to me. I explain to my team of Teaching Assistants that they also do not have to respond to emails from students over the weekend and not from me, too. I ask them to act as if the email (if one gets sent during the weekend) arrived Monday morning and respond thereafter. I want them to see me encourage boundaries. This takes hard work, but I have to say that during the last year it’s been worth it. I’m protecting my schedule more and I feel happier. I still love my job, and look forward to walking into the classroom, office hours, and other teaching related events. I’m loathe to say that I love meetings, as that’s a lie. I like some meetings and do not look forward to others! How do you deal with your email queue?

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