On my very first week of teaching, I set up myself for failure. Why? Because I didn’t set email hours with the students.
I had assigned a homework that they did not know how to do (because surprise surprise, they weren’t paying attention during instruction) and at 10:00 pm of the night before the due date, my inbox was overflowing with emails asking about the assignment. I painstakingly replied to all, with which I laid the steps for my upcoming doom.
What did I achieve?
1) students learned that they could ignore me in class because I could explain what I said again, at a time that was convenient for them.
2) they could contact me at ANY time and I was EXPECTED to reply. This eventually led up to their believing that emailing me at 4:00 am of the due date could excuse them from the missed homework because they “contacted the teacher but she didn’t reply”.
3) they did not have to try at all because I would give them as much extra time as they needed to do the homework until they got it right.
No surprise that I lost control and ended up burning out, right?
Your time is precious and people need to respect it. Treat your email time as office hours with opening and closing hours. Stick to it. No matter the urgency, the reasons, the guilt. Just because we are connected all the time with the internet, doesn’t mean we are connected all.the.time 😉