If you’ve ever felt a sense of growing unease as your weekend draws to a close, you’ve had them – the dreaded “Sunday Scaries.”
Defined online as “the anxieties one experiences on Sunday when thinking about the impending workweek,” the Sunday Scaries are becoming more and more common in our hyper-connected world. According to a Sunday-night email analysis by Microsoft, every hour a manager spent online created an extra 20 minutes of out-of-hours work for their direct reports. It’s no wonder that a recent LinkedIn survey found that 80 percent of working adults experience work-related anxiety as Monday looms.
In this week’s Conversations from the Corner Office, we’re diving deeper into the topic of work-related anxiety. Here’s what ID Plans CRO Seth Garber has to say about the “Sunday Scaries” – and how we can all work together to fight them.
SG: Yes. When I read it, I thought it was interesting that people talk about work-life balance all the time. As you develop into a leadership role, it’s different. It reminded me of another article I read with Jeff Bezos. He said t’s not about work-life balance. It’s about bringing your personal and professional pursuits into a circle – that really resonated with me. But back to the “Sunday Scaries.” Anxiety created on Sundays is a true and impactful thing for a lot of people. After I read the WSJ article, I talked to a few members of our executive team and they agree that Sunday is becoming “anxiety day.” What we need to do is find strategies to minimize it.
SG: I think they have, but the pace of technology and access to your team is so much faster than it was years ago. As businesses have adopted more methods of communicating with their employees, it’s sped up everything. Now people are checking their email constantly. Companies will text employees and they might use social media or messaging platforms like Slack or Yammer. All these ways to connect didn’t used to exist and they’ve made leaders in some organizations feel like it’s acceptable to make constant communication part of their team members’ weekend routine. It’s almost uncontrollable unless you have a proper strategy.
SG: I think it starts with being very clear with expectations as it relates to communication. That should be set on day one. How do we communicate? What is my expectation on response times during the week and potentially over the weekend? If you’re in sales, you might expect to work on the weekend. That’s how you make money. For other departments, the communication might look different. But it all starts with setting guidelines and expectations so there are no surprises.
SG: We have to respect the idea that we are actually humans and not just workers. That’s a major culture shift for organizations who expect people to work all the time. I do think companies are paying attention to what the new generation of workers want, such as more flexibility, and that’s a good thing that will hopefully lead to some changes in the way we work. If someone decides that they want to be a workaholic, that’s cool, but everyone should have the freedom to make that choice for themselves. And just because someone is a workaholic doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be more successful.
SG: I’m kind of a reformed workaholic. Looking back on my career, years ago I worked perpetually. I didn’t look at Sunday as an anxiety day. I saw every day as the same, and that’s not a great way to live. I began to realize my habits were affecting my life so I had a talk with my family on how I could improve. My wife said, “Friday at 5 p.m., your phone goes down. Sunday at 5 p.m., you can pick it back up.” It took me about a month to get used to that, but it taught me that the world was not going to end if I wasn’t available every minute. Everything was going to be OK, and if I did a good job in hiring the right people and surrounding myself with other good leaders, things would work out fine.
SG: I did get out of the habit for awhile but I’ve refocused myself and I’ve communicated it to my team. Friday after work, I’ll tell them they can text me, but I’m not going to get back to emails until Sunday after 5 p.m. I’ve started dedicating two hours – from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. – on Sundays to plan ahead for the week. That may not work for everyone, but it’s really helped me cut down on Sunday anxiety by having that structured time in place. I’m not wasting my whole day feeling anxious, and that’s huge for me.
SG: It starts with trying to understand them on an individual level and what works – and doesn’t work – for them in terms of weekend communication and work expectations. I certainly don’t want to create anxiety for them and I want them to enjoy their weekends. That’s why I encourage them to spend the last few hours of their Fridays planning for the following week. This way they come in on Monday feeling prepared, and they don’t have to spend all weekend worrying about what their week will look like. It’s made a big difference.
SG: I don’t think they will ever fully go away, but they’re something we can all impact by being conscious and putting in the effort. And good communication and expectation setting will go a long way in helping us keep our anxieties at bay.
What are your strategies for fighting the “Sunday Scaries?” Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
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