Work email on my phone? No way!

I used to be one of those people who had my work email on my cell phone. I thought I’d be more productive at work if I always had access to my email, heard it ‘ping’ on my phone at all hours, where I would, of course, respond to it immediately. What amazing efficiency, I thought; what a dedicated employee, I thought.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that it’s a really bad idea to have my work email always on, always with me. I didn’t have one of those positions that required I be available 24/7, so why did I think I needed to respond 24/7? I found myself responding to emails that could wait an hour, or two. Or a day, or two. And then I became programmed to look for new emails or make sure the email I sent actually got sent. A 2015 survey by the Future Work Centre of London revealed that “people who get their work email on their cell phones are more likely to feel frustrated and anxious” (Evans, 2016). Ya think?

The best thing happened when I switched phones, and then our email server at work changed, and I couldn’t get my work email on my new phone. I tried to make it work, then I gave up, and it was like a work weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It felt awesome, and I don’t miss it one bit.

So, now I get my USC emails on my phone, and I find myself checking them while I’m at work, and I respond throughout the day. Uh oh.

Resources:

Evans, D. (2016, January 4). Take your work email off your phone right now. New York Magazine.

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20 Responses to Work email on my phone? No way!

  1. Hibah says:

    Carolyn,
    I used to do the same exact thing, and being in HR I found that people were taking advantage of me and making minor issues into something a lot bigger than it needed to be. I learned to find the right balance and check my email only once after work and once on Saturdays and Sundays. Even though it took you getting a new phone to get rid of it, glad you did!

    Hibah

  2. Alejandro says:

    Hi Carolyn,
    So I was getting ready to sign off tonight, and I said let me take a peek at the blog. I came across your post and had to respond! I have come across this issues as well. After being frustrated with not having work email on my phone because of the convenience it would provide, I was given an option. Put it on your personal phone, with no compensation for it, or, get a second work only phone. I opted for the latter because I didn’t want to be tempted to look at work email on my personal phone when it was after hours. This has been a wise choice for me, as I have the option of putting my work phone aside when at home, and doing the same with my personal when at work. Of course, the only issue with that is keeping track of two phones. It’s been worth it but I agree that you have to find a balance, especially now that we’re in such a time demanding program. Thanks for sharing!

    • Carolyn says:

      My husband is in sales and is always on his phone. He also has a work cell and a personal cell. I thought it was kind of weird to have two phones but I’m glad he does, and he said he wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks for your reply!

  3. Smith says:

    Carolyn,

    In 502, my group decided to cover this very topic as our literature review for final.

    MCD’s (mobile communication devices) are blurring the line of work-life balance and we certainly found a lot of evidence on the impact to our personal lives because of them. It was ironic to cover this topic while in an online class with constant deadlines and 24×7 connectivity.

    I feel myself getting sucked into the vacuum of constant connection but as the literature I reviewed stated, there is no sign of it slowing down for workers and it is standard operating expectations to be “accessible”. Some of the tips we found were; establishing set hours to be “accessible” like from 6-7:00 pm each evening and forcing yourself to only check email during those times to allow for unplugging.

    Marla Smith

    • Carolyn says:

      I agree having some rules would be necessary to save your sanity! I was never disciplined enough to establish any for myself. I just found it annoying but I can see where it would have a real negative effect on your mental health. Thanks for your reply!

  4. Mabrisa says:

    Hi Carolyn,
    I always try to have a balance in everything I do in life. When I’m at work, I only focus on work. I try to leave all of my personal problems behind and just focus on the task at hand. When I am at home, my main priority is my time with my friends and family. I try my best to not think about work. I personally don’t check my work email often unless I’m at work. I feel if it something important/urgent my managers will contact me by calling my personal cell phone, otherwise it can wait.
    Great post!
    Mabrisa Rodriguez

    • Carolyn says:

      That’s the way to do it. You have to prioritize and set rules for yourself. I’m working on it! Thanks for your reply.

  5. Hanna says:

    Carolyn,

    I think this is a dilemma that many of us deal with in one way or another. Since our mobile phones connect us to email at all times we confuse “can be reached” with “should be reached”. I also think it is easy to be trapped in to thinking that because others choose to be available so must we. But like you, I think that constantly checking our phones for new messages or immediately responding to emails is not only disruptive, it actually hinders real progress. It is to confuse the sense of accomplishment that comes from cleaning out emails from your inbox (immediate result) with dedicating time to something challenging, like thinking about a complex problem (intangible and exploratory). This is similar to the way I always manage to find time for house chores before I sit down to work on assignments for this course!

    Cecilia

    • Carolyn says:

      Haha – so true! If I’m not in the right mindset, I can find so many things to do before settling down and digging into work. Thanks for your reply!

  6. Stacie says:

    I can totally relate to your post. I have my work email on my phone and would be lost without it. The annoying thing is that I check it ALL the time, even on weekends. Who would be emailing me on the weekend, and if they were…they should know that I am not working. I have even caught myself checking work email when on vacation. I tell myself that I don’t want to take a full day back just sorting through emails and if I stay on top of them, it will make going back to the office easier. My company does not pay for my cell phone, so technically I feel that I shouldn’t have to answer emails on my phone post work hours. Although, the expectation from our manager is that we are available when she needs us. A bit of a contradiction as the expectations are different.

    It is amazing how tied we are to not only technology but to our email communication.

    • Carolyn says:

      I used to check email on vacation days and sick days and I’ve made myself not do that, and it feels great to be liberated. I realized I wasn’t getting any Brownie points at work for always being available, and if my boss really needs to get a hold of me, she calls or texts, and it’s for a quick question. I don’t miss the constant connection at all.

  7. Larissa says:

    Carolyn,

    I used to be the same way (well minus the notifications). Initially I put my work email on my phone so I could respond to emails on the train while I was heading to work only. Called myself trying to be efficient (bah). Eventually, I would check my email in the evenings, then on the weekends. Definitely not good.
    Now that I’m in this program and my work email (USC employee) is the same as my school email, I had to train myself only to focus on class related emails (on my phone) outside of work hours. Sometimes I catch myself glancing at a work email and quickly remind myself that I have other things to do and it can wait until the morning or Monday. This balance has helped lessen the work anxiety and frustration Evan (2016) is talking about I’m sure, but school wise, that’s a whole other story.

    • Carolyn says:

      I do email myself trying to be efficient – haha! If I run across something while doing school work or while I’m reading at night or on the weekends, I email it to myself so I remember to share it with my colleagues.

  8. Victoria says:

    Hi Carolyn,

    I’ve made the same mistake! My problem is that I will check my work emails at a stop light on my way to work. If it’s something annoying it kind of sets me up to show up in a bad mood. I feel that there is also a culture that encourages us to work longer than we should, that that somehow shows we are better workers or more loyal. I recently came across this Washington Post article (see link below) about how we should stop bragging about how many hours we work. It’s creating a stressed out culture of people who never go on vacation, and are actually less productive.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2016/09/01/stop-touting-the-crazy-hours-you-work-it-helps-no-one-2/

    • Carolyn says:

      That’s a good article and so true. It’s funny the article includes Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer’s comment about working 130 hours/week. She’ll soon be out of a job when the deal with Verizon to buy Yahoo gets finalized in a few months. Guess working all those hours didn’t make a difference in this scenario.

  9. Umaro says:

    Carolyn,
    This issue is becoming a real problem for many working professionals.
    I only installed my work outlook on my phone. My old phone could never sync in. That was a good, I think.
    But since I purchased a new phone, I went ahead and activated my work email. To be honest, I don’t think it is a great idea because once you have it, you will be always attempted to check and/or respond. It’s sort of an addiction, whether we want to admit it or not. I am picturing people seeking professional help to get out of “Email Addiction” in the coming years. I am saying this because I observe it every day at work… I would often come across someone who would never notice me because they are checking their phones even as they walk to the restrooms:-)
    Best,
    -Umaro

  10. Tish says:

    Hi Carolyn,

    I am living this right now. My work email comes to my phone and I always feel obligated to respond. Recently, I was on vacation for 10 days and spent half of the time out of state. Upon realizing that every ding on the cell phone was going to completely distract me during a time when unplugging was sorely needed, I temporarily disabled my work email on my phone. Of course, we are back now and it is back on. I am not sure that I’m ready to completely disconnect in that aspect!

    Regards,
    Tish H.

  11. Elysha says:

    Carolyn,

    This may or may not be applicable to your company, but did you know that in many cases, receiving your work email on your personal cell phone can expose you to risk if your company is ever involved in litigation? Those emails can be deemed company property and your device is being used for company business that phone can become the company’s and therefore searchable in the event of a lawsuit. I think you got lucky here. Sounds like a blessing in disguise. Besides you have enough USC email to keep you busy at night.

    Elysha

  12. Barbie says:

    Congrats on breaking free of your work email on your phone! I currently have 2 work email accounts, a third work account from a defunct company (that a few newsletters still go to), my personal email account, and my USC email.

    Notifications for all of them are limited to the top banner only…no pop-ups.