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Delay That Early Morning Email!


Colin Fraser

Director at i-confidential


How often do business leaders think about how the simplest action can have a significant impact on their colleagues? Such as sending an email.

A recent academic study recognised that people try to hold to a consistent routine at the start of the day. The researchers examined the impact of disruption to that routine.

The theory goes that automating repeated tasks into routines conserves energy for more important activities. When a routine is disturbed, the individual expends additional energy completing it and is then ‘depleted’ when more substantial work arrives.

This reminded me of the footer on an email I received from a business leader I admire:

“As part of my blended life, I work flexibly and may send emails at unconventional times; please do not feel obliged to respond immediately if this email is received outside of your own working hours.”

Perhaps everyone in a management role should think about the impact they have on their teams before sending emails outside standard working hours. Consider the following:

  • Ensure your team members know they are not expected to disrupt their ‘non-work’ routine at the start of the day just because they have received an email.

  • Use options like Microsoft Outlook’s ‘Send Later’ function and delay despatch until the recipient’s standard workday has started.

  • Think twice about sending the email in the first place.

Psychologists encourage us to put ourselves in another person’s shoes to imagine the impact of our actions.

Our non-urgent, mundane email may be the cause of a significant disruption to the recipient. Let’s just think about it.


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