Your job rarely requires you to be online after you leave the office—it’s just not an urgent line of business you’re in. Nearly everything can wait.
So why does your boss constantly send you emails long after you’ve headed home? Why does he insist on that near-nightly 9 PM note about nothing very important?
There are probably a lot of reasons that your manager has taken to messaging you in this way. She could have a poor relationship with her drafts folder, only remembering she started writing you a message late at night. She could thrive in the wee hours of the morning when you’re still in dreamland. She could also just be a real jerk who wants you to be as encumbered by work as she is.
For whatever reason your boss sends too many emails outside the standard business hours respected by your organization, it’s causing you anxiety. Sure, you can opt not to respond until you’re tuned into work. You can choose to respond with a confirmation of receipt: “Thanks. Noted for tomorrow/later/Monday morning.” You can even turn off your phone’s notifications and will yourself not to check your inbox once you’ve left the building (good luck with that one!).
Or, you can try something a little bold, something that’ll keep you from rolling your eyes before you nod off to sleep, something that’ll keep your stress levels low when you’re in relaxation mode, trying to spend quality time with your friends and family, something that’ll better your relationship. You can ask your boss to lay off the after-hours emails!
Woah, OK. I know that sounds crazy. Ballsy. You may wonder if it’s unprofessional or rude, but you know what? If you do it correctly, it’s communicative. The way to foster and cultivate a good rapport with your manager is to continually hone your communication skills. You can’t have a good relationship with someone if you’re secretly annoyed by something he does. You can’t expect to get along swimmingly with someone who frustrates you and causes you feelings of resentment.
Instead of grinning and bearing it, the next time your manager contacts you outside of office hours without a valid, reply with the following the next day:
Hi [Name of Boss],
I’ve been trying to be more present at home so that I can return to work each day well-rested and I’ve found that not being tied to my inbox has helped with that.
Would it be possible to hold off on sending late-night and early-morning emails when it isn’t urgent? And don’t worry, if it is urgent, I’ll 100% respond. I definitely wouldn’t want to put anything off that needs my immediate attention.
See you tomorrow,
If the thought of writing this terrifies you—only you know how your boss is likely to respond—consider an informal in-person chat. At your next meeting, try casually bringing up the problem:
“I’m doing my best to prioritize my daily responsibilities here, and I know we all work differently and have distinct styles, but I can’t help getting caught up in the after-hours’ work emails—so I wanted to speak to you about a system that might be mutually beneficial. Would you be open to letting me know before I take off for the day if there’s anything else you need before morning, potentially cutting down on the late-night emails? I want to do anything I can to make your job easier, and I don’t know that our current method of correspondence is helping with that.”
Neither the email nor the in-person conversation are going to be particularly easy, especially if you fear your boss in any way or are intimidated by him, but stop and think about the real purpose of it: You’re trying to be a happier, more productive employee. You’re attempting to strengthen your relationship with your manager. In the long run, empowering yourself to approach this topic stands to do you far more good than silently seething about it.