5 Strategies to Avoid Destructive Late-Night Emails

It’s a familiar feeling to us all — that sickening sense of panic after hitting send on an email we shouldn’t even have written.

Maybe you noticed a major typo that it’s too late to fix, or went off half-cocked on a client because you were cranky. Whatever the reason, we all have an email or two haunting us from the past or sending a shiver down our spines at the mere memory. Unfortunately, the repercussions of some destructive late-night emails can impact your career.

Remember, you’re being judged.

In a world dominated by digital communication, sometimes email or text is the only form of communication you and a client or manager may ever have. These electronic missives represent who we are, how we think, and how well we communicate. If your email is riddled with typos or comes across as snarky or impatient, it’s a negative reflection on you as a professional — which is why it’s generally a good idea to avoid emailing late at night.

Chances are you’re tired, which is when you’re most likely to make mistakes, like misquoting a number or even cc’ing somebody on an email that they shouldn’t be reading. If you’re in a bad mood, know that it will be reflected in your writing — subconsciously or not.

Anytime you feel compelled to respond to or a write a destructive late-night email, keep the following tips in mind. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

1. Procrastinate

Procrastination can be a professional’s biggest enemy sometimes, but it can also save your bacon if you’re considering writing to a new client late at night. Always ask yourself, “Can this wait until morning?”. Ninety-nine percent of the time it absolutely can!

2. Write a rough draft

If there’s something you absolutely MUST share or respond to late at night, sit down at the computer and write it out in a word processing program — one that will alert you to both misspellings and improper grammar. Some things you can’t rush, so give yourself time to get the email just right before you send it. If you can, again, wait until morning when you have the time and won’t miss any sleep trying to spell hors d’oeuvres correctly. You’ll take a look at what you wrote the night before and STILL find mistakes or ill-advised comments. If the email was something you wanted to rant about, you might even find that in the light of day, it really doesn’t need sending at all.

3. Run it by a trusted advisor

Whether it’s your significant other, a roommate, or your best friend halfway across the country, there is probably at least one person in your life to whom you can go for a second opinion. When emotions are involved, what seems perfectly rational to us can sound alarm bells for somebody else. Ask them if what you’re doing is really a good idea after all. Send them a copy of the email you plan to send. They’ll tell you whether you should hit that send button or not.

4. Set a computer curfew

If you know you’re vulnerable to bad late-night decision-making, set for yourself a strict cutoff time for electronic communication. For example, after 8:30 p.m., you can’t check your emails or send any business-related texts. Again remember, 99 percent of those late-night emails and texts can wait until the morning. This self-imposed blackout can also save you from reading someone else’s destructive email, and win you a peaceful night!

5. Go with your gut

When all else fails, listen to that voice or nagging feeling inside. It’s most likely trying to tell you that you don’t appear “punctual” when responding to an email late at night — you look weird, or, depending on what you write — crazy.

Composing a late-night email? Think before you hit send! You’ll thank yourself in the morning. Click To Tweet