STOP! Are you checking your email?

April 22, 2009 at 6:00 am 3 comments

Morning Coffee, Not Email (Creative Commons License)

Morning Coffee, Not Email

I love the time management book “Never Check Email in the Morning“.  In it, Julie Morgenstern gives some really great tips for being more productive.  One of her strategies is to never check email in the morning.  I can hear you now: “GASP!  Did she really tell me not to check email in the morning?  My customers would die.”

In her book, Julie explains:

Email is the biggest time-suck of the modern workday.  We interrupt ourselves every five minutes to check our in-boxes, hoping for something more interesting, more fun, or more urgent than whatever we’re working on in that moment.  How many times before making a difficult call, or starting a challenging project have you said, “Well, let me just check my email first”?

GUILTY.  I am guilty as charged.

Not so fast, Trigger…

Joanne goes on to say:

Email plays a leading role in the development of our supremely impatient culture, where everything has to be “now, now, now!”  People expect immediate responses, because an immediate response seems possible.    Not everything is urgent. You need to fight this unhealthy speed-freak impulse and press your internal pause button.  Don’t let technology take away your time to think and apply your higher-level self to tasks.

Again – GUILTY.  In fact, while writing this post, I checked my email at least 3 times.  (And, my facebook, and my twitter.)  I have a real sickness.  I need to get back in tune with this practice of not being so impulsive with the email trigger.

We have gotten into the habit of checking email because we think the world will fall apart if we don’t.  We have trained ourselves to think our clients will shrivel up and die – or worse: hate us – if we do not respond within the second.  The truth is that most people have a 4-24 hour response time on email turnaround.  Most things that are urgent are addressed with a phone call.

Avoid email for one hour in the morning…

Joanne goes on to say that we should completely avoid email for the first hour of the day and spend this hour doing a critical task. These are the benefits of doing this:

  • You will be taking control of your schedule and your priorities.
  • You will begin your day in charge of it, instead of your email in charge of you.
  • You will be able to start the day ahead of your to-do list, rather than behind.
  • You will have an hour of COMPLETELY UNINTERRUPTED work.
  • You will achieve quiet work, without the frenzy of your brain running towards all the tasks introduced by the emails.
  • You will complete your most difficult task before the day has even begun instead of being haunted by it all day.

An exception to the rule…

But, what if your business requires that you check email first thing in the morning?  Jean Louise Paquin Allen, the very amazing designer and owner of Juniper Flowers, threw a monkey wrench in my “no email for the first hour rule” by reminding me that her day begins with having to check email for orders placed by her ecommerce website.  Joanne goes on to say that if this is the case, do your checking and then create your “no email zone” during another time, possibly the second hour of your work day.  She does warn that it is hard to turn yourself off once you are open for business.

My challenge…

So I dare you… don’t check your email for an hour in the morning! Chances are it’s a little too late for that today… but try it tomorrow.  How much are you able to get done?  I’d love to hear from you and see what your morning is like!


Entry filed under: Life Lessons, Productivity.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Annette  |  April 22, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Great post! I am totally guilty of this and time just gets away from you when you are checking email, twitter, etc.

  • 2. Jason Parker  |  April 23, 2009 at 12:12 am

    I will do it tomorrow.
    I will do it tomorrow.
    I will do it tomorrow.
    I will do it tomorrow.
    I will do it tomorrow.
    I will do it tomorrow.
    I will do it tomorrow.
    I will do it tomorrow.
    I will do it tomorrow.
    I will do it tomorrow.
    I will do it tomorrow.

  • […] important that you prioritize most important and most urgent first.  (Hint: laundry is not urgent, email is most likely not urgent) It’s also important to batch your work.  If you are stopping to pick up the phone every […]


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