The Two-Day Truce: Reclaiming Respect for the Weekend

I can’t be the only one to confess that my blood pressure raises and eyes dilate when I hear the all too familiar “Ding!” of my phone when a new email comes in. I’m like one of Ivan Pavlov’s dogs, except instead of salivating, I’m overcome with the urge to immediately check my phone and respond instantly with an answer to or acknowledgement of the pending request. This mindset can make for a stressful week, but apply it to the 2-days we’re supposed to allow ourselves for rest and relaxation each weekend and this flirts on the brink of insanity.

As a new business owner, I’m told – this too shall pass. But what if it doesn’t? What if fate should have it that my obsession with instantaneous answers isn’t linked to my young entrepreneurship, but rather the growing trend in technology? Now we’re no longer flirting on the brink of insanity, we’re outright courting it with a fancy dinner and bottle of wine.

I can’t help but fantasize with the idea of living in a 1950’s office environment just for contrast. What was it possibly like to lock the door on your business at 5pm Friday and be unreachable until 9am Monday? Moreover, what was it like to wait around for a written memo to be passed from office to office until an answer was returned hours…or days later? The TV show Mad Men might give us a glimpse into this lifestyle, but we will never truly know what it is like to live it. What some might see as a business-stifling, slow communication process, I see as the key to a work-life balance. With the aid of ever-connecting technology, we have officially become accessible at all hours of the day and so we have trained ourselves, and our peers, to expect immediate responses regardless of weekends, holidays and once in a lifetime occasions like weddings, funerals and even the birth of our own children.

I acknowledge that I’m somewhat at fault for this. I check emails on my phone with the same repetition in which I breathe or blink. And answering emails on the weekend only encourages conversation because I voluntarily make myself accessible. So this weekend it stops. I want that 2-day break; I earned that 2-day break – and so did you. So why do we continue to choose to watch our phones rather than watch a movie with our significant other? Why do we use our weekends to pitch to a potential client when we could be pitching to our son or nephew on a beautiful sunny day?

Let’s call a truce. Let’s work hard this week so we can designate this weekend for rest and relaxation. But I can’t do it alone. I challenge each of you to limit your emails this weekend to urgent communication only. Ask yourself, “Can it wait until Monday?” And then get out there and enjoy an entire Saturday and Sunday to yourself. Lock your email, just as you would your office door, at 5pm on Friday and open it again Monday at 9am. I promise you that calling a Two Day Truce, won’t result in the demise of your business, but more likely will result in allowing others to also reclaim the respect for their own weekend.

11 thoughts on “The Two-Day Truce: Reclaiming Respect for the Weekend

  1. Agreed, it is one thing that businesses or a lot of people do not understand. But then, you ARE your own business owner, and although a lot of people like to avoid this advice, you CAN set up your own rules. As long as you are able to deliver what you promise, and you will treat your clients with respect, you can get this done.

    Some clients do want you to be available 24/7 but often, this is an empty request. A mentioning that you are not available during the weekends, but will treat every request made in the weekend with priority on Monday, and also do this, will often make it work out, even with bigger companies. In my experience it actually worked in my favor, to be able to deliver quality but demand respect for your private life shows you are a person who is in control of what you do. Of course, within reason. A matter that really requires immediate attention (like major problems) should keep you flexible though.

    1. Exactly! You can’t avoid the “emergency situations” that will crop up on weekend hours, but for the most part much of the work I put pressure on myself to get done can wait until Monday. This might be a long learning process until I feel comfortable going “offline” on the weekend, but I’m willing to give it a try!

  2. I think technology has become so integrated with out lives that I don’t even think about it when checking email or sending text messages at virtually any and all hours of the day. I do know that we’re really trying to limit our kids’ exposure to it but I’m not sure what kind of message it sends to them if I’m readying a text while sitting at a red light. Nice reminder!

    1. I agree! For my the experience has mostly been sitting around a dinner table with a group of friends, yet we’re all checking out phones or sending an email. We lose sight of why we all gathered together – to be with each other!

  3. Having been a child during those days when the world slowed down on Saturdays and absolutely stopped on Sundays, I can say with authority that the world hasn’t been much improved by 24/7 availability. I taught for many years, and now I work in a store that is open every day but Christmas and Thanksgiving. Easter Sunday, I was at work as usual, and customers trickled in slowly, but steadily. Quite a few of them remarked that they couldn’t believe we were open on Easter, or that it was such a shame I had to work on Easter. I smiled, but the truth is if the store declined to open then customers would just postpone their shopping for a day, and if the customers didn’t demand constant access to their shopping needs, the store would be closed. We do this to each other.

    1. Thank you for sharing this example, it hits the nail on the head with what I was trying to get across in the “Two Day Truce.” The more we allow ourselves to be available 24-7, the more people will come to expect it.

  4. See, I stand behind the ROWE concept. Therefore, there are times and even whole days, where I will read each text that comes to my phone, but I DON’T answer them. Social things are allowed, like my parents and boyfriend; but I do not respond to anything business related at some times. And, it is not consistent, so I am not even training my contacts to expect that I am unavailable each Monday afternoon between 2 and 4 PM. I am training them that my time is valuable, just like theirs is and everyone’s personal lives should be respected. If I must respond, I tell them that I have received the message and will address it appropriately when I am back at my desk. If that will not be for an extended time, I tell them that.

    I do the same with my computer at times. With my emails, I will read them all and on some days I will make a to do list while I read them; then I won’t respond until later that day or the next morning. I feel it is a good practice. That way, when I need time, I have it; instead of waiting and praying for Friday afternoon to get here sooner.

    What do you think?

  5. There have been weekends where I have actually turned off office email sync to my phone. Best thing I did. Especially when I go on vacation. I turn that off as well as most of my social media alerts.

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