3 things to do when your boss constantly sends late-night and weekend emails

You’re settling into bed following happy hour with your new coworkers when you get an email from your boss. Your anxiety levels immediately spike before you finish reading the subject line.

It’s only three weeks into your brand new job and you’re already getting late-night communication from your supervisor, adding to the frequent waves of stress you’ve been feeling about the position.

Here’s what to do when your boss constantly sends emails well after hours.

Figure out the best method of communication

Learn what the expectations are for this job — are you always expected to respond that night?

Alison Green, author of the Ask a Manager blog, answers a reader’s question in Inc. on if they are supposed to reply to work emails from the new boss on weekends and how to avoid a potentially sticky situation.

She writes that in some cases, you don’t have to respond, but next illustrates that you should start a dialogue.

“Now, obviously, if your boss is saying things like ‘let me know today’ or following up on Sunday to ask why you haven’t yet responded to the email he sent on Saturday, then it’s pretty clear that he does expect responses over the weekend,” Green writes. “But if this isn’t the case, then I would either a) ignore the emails until you’re back at work on Monday, or b) ask him—as in, ‘Hey, I’m assuming that it’s fine for me to wait to reply to emails sent over the weekend until I’m back at work on Monday, unless it’s an emergency. Let me know if that’s not the case.”

Think about how this affects your productivity

Maura Thomas, a speaker, trainer, author, and founder of RegainYourTime.com, writes to managers about how this type of communication hurts productivity in the Harvard Business Review.

“A frantic environment that includes answering emails at all hours doesn’t make your staff more productive. It just makes them busy and distracted,” she writes. “You base your staff hiring decisions on their knowledge, experience, and unique talents, not how many tasks they can seemingly do at once, or how many emails they can answer in a day.”

Get your emails in check

Thorin Klosowski answers a reader’s question in Lifehacker about how to get more leisure time when the boss emails them nearly every weekend. The reader says the emails either make them anxious about Monday or take up a lot of time on weekends.

One of Klosowski’s tips is to “forcefully cut yourself off.”

“You can never guarantee your boss will respect your wishes and stop emailing you over the weekend,” he writes. “In that case, you should set up your inbox so you don’t check them on evenings and weekends. Talk to your boss and come up with a system to differentiate between priority emails over the weekend and the emails that are just meant to help you prepare for your return on Monday morning. If your email account is properly prioritized you’ll be able to shut off those pestering messages without worrying that you’re missing a critical task.”