This past Friday, I was in a panic. I’d finally gotten around to reading some of the many emails that had piled up in my inbox over the past week, and was frantic to reply back to people. “What if they needed the answer immediately?” “What if I missed out on a big opportunity?” The questions racing through my head were endless, and I was speed replying like crazy.
About 6 or 7 emails in, I reached a request for photos that required the assistance of another person I’d been working with. The client needed the edited images by the end of the weekend or sooner, if possible. As I began crafting a lengthy, detailed email to my colleague, full of requests to get the finalized images completed even sooner than the deadline, I had a sudden realization. There was a reason why I hadn’t received any new business emails that day–it was a Friday night, and most people with a life didn’t have business on their minds. It was the end of the work week, and people needed a break. In this case, “people” included me and my colleague. Why send someone else in a panic over emails and photos that probably wouldn’t be looked at until the end of the weekend anyway?
I also realized something else: my behavior was mimicking that of the bosses I used to loathe back in the corporate world. Chances are, you’ve had one or more of these bosses too–the type that are sending you assignments with inane deadlines at all hours of the night (or wee early mornings), with no regard for weekends, vacations, or personal time off. It seems like these bosses have no life other than work, and the average person can’t understand their fixation on something that should only take up 40 hours a week of one’s time.
I was about to become one of those loathed bosses if I fired off my demanding email on that Friday night. It was this realization that made me decide to save the email as a draft and send it off at a more reasonable hour. This was one of those moments when I was grateful to have had experience on both sides of the coin, as both the boss overly consumed with a project and the colleague who couldn’t understand that sort of crazy dedication. All in all, it points back to one of those classic rules that should never be forgotten: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”