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One way to to get more done and still maintain work boundaries

Updated: Mar 19, 2022

We live in a world where we are always on and expectations are that we're available for work almost at all hours of the day. Employees have begun to push back on this idea, work time is work time and home time is home time. The two should never cross?

As much as we all wish we could work strictly between the hours of 9 to 5, that's just not a reality. However, we can be smart about the expectations we set for those we work with.

I had a colleague who would respond to all emails as soon as they reached their Inbox. My colleague created an expectation in others that they were always on and always available. When my colleague then needed to shift and focus on their own work they could not keep up that response rate. This caused others to get frustrated as they had grown accustom to their quick responses.

The actions we take build expectations in others, if we send emails at all hours of the day our colleagues will expect that we are available at all hours of the day.

What can we do about this? The first thought might be to simply make sure you are only working in your defined workday. Don't respond or send emails unless it's within the 9 to 5 window. That could work for some, depending on the type of work you do. Some people are a little more flexible with their hours and may work between 7 and 3, or 10 and 6 depending on what life is throwing at you at the moment. We live in a world full of flexibility, nonetheless we may still want to manage others expectations of us.

Just because I am working 7 to 3 on one day does not mean I want other to expect that I can and will respond to their requests at 7 every day.

So how can I maintain a flexible working schedule and keep my colleagues within a set of expectations I can control? It's actually quite simple and all you need to know is how to use the Delay Delivery feature in Outlook. This handy little tool let's you set the time that you want MS Outlook to send your email. There are a few catches you need to be aware of:

  1. Your workstation needs to be powered on and logged in

  2. MS Outlook needs to be open

If you have meet these two criteria then its just a matter of a few clicks, follow these steps:

  1. In the email you are authoring change to the Options tab in the ribbon

  2. Click on the elipsis "..." icon

  3. Click Delay Delivery button

  4. Set the time you want to send the email

  5. Click Close

  6. Click Send in your email and it will now sit in your Outbox until the time you set


Don't schedule all your emails to show up at 9:00AM, you may want to space them out to not overwhelm others. And it also helps to keep you secret about Delay Delivery.


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