Mental health hack ft. Gmail: Alleviating burnout in others

A quick riff off an idea in this article by Anne Helen Petersen considering how your own actions (for example, sending an email at 9pm on a Saturday) can create burnout in others.

In April this year, Google introduced a feature allowing you to schedule your emails in Gmail to be sent at a later date and time. Google explained how the feature would allow emails "to be sent at a more appropriate date or time... allowing you to work across time-zones while still respecting everyone’s digital well-being". I've personally used a similar feature available in Hubspot to share client work without admitting I had been working late into the night.

While I appreciate the simplicity of Google's scheduling feature, it is left to the user to decide when sending an email may be inappropriate, and what a more appropriate date or time may be.

Instead, Google could actively encourage users to be more respectful of others by using available data to determine the most appropriate behaviour and setting the default actions accordingly.

For example:

  • Using your timezone (or that of your recipient, if available), Google could determine that the most appropriate behaviour would be to schedule your email, displaying "Schedule send" as the default action and "Send now" as the secondary action.
  • Using the same information, Google could help you decide what a more appropriate date or time might be.
  • If the user chooses to "Send now", Google could display a warning, ensuring the user is informed and comfortable to proceed.

It's fairly unlikely that Google would consider implementing a feature like this, however I could see this being fairly easy to implement as a browser plugin. If you like this, and want to help bring it into the world, let me know on Twitter, or get in touch!