My Supervisor Doesn’t Have a Life

Question:

I work for a recently divorced supervisor who doesn’t have a life. Every evening and all weekend long he emails me assignments, requests and questions.

At first, I tried to answer the questions, but then I let him know that I didn’t want to work on the weekends.

He’s apologized and said he doesn’t expect me to act on what he sends me until Monday. Then he said it makes his life easier to send the assignments as he thinks of them.  

I let him know my cellphone pings whenever I receive an incoming email, and it’s disconcerting to get pings when I’m camping, sleeping or out with friends. And it bugs me to have my inbox filling up all weekend long.

I know I could turn off the ping notifications, but I don’t want to, because if it’s a friend or family trying to get ahold of me, I want to respond.

I know I could create a personal email and split out my work and personal inboxes, but it simplifies my life during the workweek to have one inbox.

How do I get him to cut it out without him deciding I’m not a team player? Or do I just need to suck it up since I otherwise like him and like my job?

Answer:

If you want to stop your supervisor from using you as his human to-do list, give him an easy alternative. For example, he can place all his emails to you in his draft folder and then simply send them all Monday morning.

If, however, he copies you on emails he sends to others, this won’t work. Alternatively, show him the “notes” icon on his phone and suggest he place all evening and weekend requests there.

If he doesn’t like either option, then you’re the one who needs to make a change. You’ve already identified two easy technological workarounds. Since he’s let you know he’s okay with his requests waiting until Monday, you can turn off your cellphone’s sound when you don’t want to be distracted or create two inboxes and log off the work one in the evening and over the weekend.

Your question reminds me of how often we expect the other person to change when their habit irritates us—when sometimes it’s us that could make the change and erase the problem.  

© Lynne Curry 2022

3 thoughts on “My Supervisor Doesn’t Have a Life

  1. These solutions–other inboxes, other email accounts, notes and draft folders–really make sense. Thanks for sharing them with us and helping to make an irritating problem less so. At least the boss is OK with the employee not handling the emails until Monday, instead of expecting over-the-weekend responses. It sounds like the boss is not really trying to drag everyone through the boss’s feelings of aloneness after the divorce.

  2. Hmm, interesting problem and you’ve got a couple of ideas on how to fix them. I know I’ve got five different email addresses that I can selectively turn off and on, and can also ‘blend’ by ‘show all’ when I want to see ALL, or some of the email that comes in to me at any time.
    It might also be worthwhile to remind him that if he’s ‘contacting you during your so-called time off’ he’s actually tripping the meter – you could apply for overtime pay for the ‘work during off hours.’ THAT is covered under labor law.

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