– Updated 03-18-12 – Science writer David Bradley on his blog ScienceText also recommends, “Avoid social networking and email first thing.” I know it works for me, I walk around and talk to staff before I get tangled up in the work everybody else wants me to do.
Sid Savara a widely regarded personal development trainer published 7 Reasons You Should Never Check Email First Thing In The Morning at his site sidsavara.com.
#1 – Ignorance Is Bliss..fully Productive – When it comes to email, ignorance is bliss. That’s why if you’ve got something important you want to make progress on, the author offers these four words for success:
Don’t check your email.
As soon as you get in, work on something important for 30-45 minutes, and only then check email. If you can stand it, wait even longer. The article suggests that as long as you’re ignorant of everything else that’s going on outside, you can concentrate on what you want to work on.
Any new information you get can cause you to get distracted.
By checking email, you risk doing what someone else wants you to do. Or more bluntly, when you check your inbox, the emails you get are a todo list someone else makes for you.
Who is in charge of your time – you, or the person emailing you?
#3 – It’s An Excuse To Lack Direction – The author says that checking email is a low priority activity and that you may be checking email first thing in the morning because your todo list has gotten off track somewhere. He argues that when you don’t have a clear list of priorities, checking email becomes an urgent activity that you do at the expense of your important ones.
#4 – Reaction vs “Proaction” – When you check your email, you end up with more work to do – and because we’re in “check email” mode, we start replying to them at the expense of the task we were just working on. Rather than actively setting an agenda, email forces you to react to items as they come in – regardless of their true priority.
Mr. Savara says he prefer taking proactive actions. Work on the things that are important to you, regardless of whether they’re urgent or simply at the top of your inbox. Stop wasteful actions, and focus on productive actions instead.
#5 – Searching For Excuses Blindly checking email (or Twitter, or Facebook, or any number iTime wasters) is usually just searching for an excuse to not do the work that must be done according to the author.
Don’t fall into that trap. Don’t give yourself an out by checking your email for an excuse to fail. He urges, Don’t check your email – acknowledge the task you need to get done, and do it.
Cross that bridge – it’s not going away.
#6 – There’s No Set Time Limit – Meetings get a bad rap for being a waste of time – but at least you usually know how long a meeting will last. But do you know how long you’re going to spend on email once you open your inbox, odds are you don’t know – or you’ll underestimate it.
The problem is, checking email only takes a minute but you can get sucked into follow-up activities that result from opening your email, and there’s no way of knowing how much time these will take.
You have a set time limit for how many productive hours you have in a day don’t let email suck you in and cause you to devote more time to it than you can afford.
#7 – It Builds Expectation – A lot of people says, “But I have to check my email! People expect a response from me in the morning!” The author believes that there are some requests that need immediate responses, but they’re much less frequent than you might think.
He argues that people expect a response from you in the morning because you’ve always responded first thing in the morning and you’ve built that expectation. The more often you check email, the more often people will expect you to check it. Just stop checking it first thing in the morning, and people won’t expect it anymore.
Mr Savara recommends the following email rules:
- Only check if there is something specific you are looking for. Most important – don’t go fishing around. Check it with a specific plan, a specific email you’re looking for from a specific person.
- Separate low value emails via filters (“rules” in outlook) or separate email addresses so you don’t even see them in your inbox when you check
- Set a time limit. Commit to checking for 5 minutes, just to look for that one piece of information – and have your exit strategy ready. Before you open your inbox, decide what you’ll do if 1) the email is there 2) the email isn’t there 3) the email is incomplete. Don’t be reactionary – proactively decide what action you will take based on the outcomes you expect.