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'Don't E-Mail Me When I'm With My Kids'

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Is "The Four-Hour Workweek" really attainable for working moms?

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We were talking in the Mom•Logic offices about Timothy Ferriss' best seller The Four-Hour Workweek, a book that basically advises employees to go on a "low-information" diet and only check e-mail twice a day (at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.). Wow, we love that idea in theory—we've all been yelled at by our kids for checking our work e-mail incessantly at home. But honestly, we're not feeling the twice-a-day email thing is realistic. So what's a working mom to do? We asked Ronna Lichtenberg, author of Work Would Be Great if It Weren't for the People.

She says anything you ask your boss should be in your boss' best interest (makes sense). So instead of making an announcement that you're checking e-mail less (which sounds apologetic and is just making too big of a deal of it, in Lichtenberg's opinion), she recommends saying, "I always check e-mail at 11 a.m and 4 p.m., so the closer you send me high-priority e-mails to that time, the more likely I can respond quickly."

If going cold turkey like this is too drastic, Lichtenberg recommends simply cutting back. Try checking e-mail once or twice an hour to start, and then schedule an hour a week after the kids go to bed to respond to longer, personal e-mails. Vow not to check e-mail after a certain time every night (say, 8 p.m.)—and stick to it.

Once you set these sorts of limits for yourself, the e-mails won't seem so never-ending, and you'll have more time and energy to focus on family.
Could you handle checking your e-mail just twice a day? Comment now.


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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Karen November 13, 2007, 9:42 AM

I am a stay at home mom who only checks my e-mail 2x a day… and thats nap time, and when the kids go to bed at night.

Courtney November 13, 2007, 10:23 AM

I am a working mom and I only check my email once or twice a day unless I am waiting on something important. Checking your email all day forces you to stop working on something else. And checking work at home? Come on, don’t we work enough? Take a break when you come home to your family!!

Mike November 13, 2007, 5:12 PM

I remember Donny Deutsche (my hero) berating Ferris for the idea of working less, essentially promoting laziness. My wife and I both know that it takes a lot of hard work to be successful. My job requires constant communication via email and IM. Maybe his ideas work for some people, but they are just not realistic.

Anonymous November 29, 2007, 9:36 PM

I use to check my e-mails constantly. That was before I had my baby. It was at the point that e-mailing was the prime connection between my peers and family. Being a new mother, I have certainly cut back on running to the computer every time i hear, You’ve got mail. I usually heard my computer calling right when i was needed some where else. I have limited myself to checking e-mail once in the morning and once at night, if i am not physically and mentally drained. I admit, there are some days where i don’t check my e-mail anymore. I figure if something was that important I would get a call. I assumed that my peers and family would understand, with me being a new mother. Do to my incline of e-mail checking and answering, i have actually had peers and family complain to me. “Well I sent you and e-mail, you should have known”. That is just an example of a come back I hear all the time. I just cannot believe how much people have come to rely on e-mail. E-mail is a wonderful way of communicating and sharing, But please, if you have something to tell me that is really important and can’t wait, pick up the phone. I at least check my voice mail everyday.


Anonymous November 29, 2007, 9:36 PM

I use to check my e-mails constantly. That was before I had my baby. It was at the point that e-mailing was the prime connection between my peers and family. Being a new mother, I have certainly cut back on running to the computer every time i hear, You’ve got mail. I usually heard my computer calling right when i was needed some where else. I have limited myself to checking e-mail once in the morning and once at night, if i am not physically and mentally drained. I admit, there are some days where i don’t check my e-mail anymore. I figure if something was that important I would get a call. I assumed that my peers and family would understand, with me being a new mother. Do to my incline of e-mail checking and answering, i have actually had peers and family complain to me. “Well I sent you and e-mail, you should have known”. That is just an example of a come back I hear all the time. I just cannot believe how much people have come to rely on e-mail. E-mail is a wonderful way of communicating and sharing, But please, if you have something to tell me that is really important and can’t wait, pick up the phone. I at least check my voice mail everyday.



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