To Check or Not to Check Your Email First Thing in the Morning?
I read an interesting article from Business Insider titled “14 things successful people do before breakfast.” There are some great little tips in there, but there is one that I absolutely do not agree with: checking your email as one of the first things you do each morning. Here’s the quote from the article:
“While time-management gurus may suggest putting off email as long as possible, many successful people start the day with email. In fact, one recent survey found that the first thing most executives do in the morning is check their email.
They may quickly scan their inboxes for urgent messages that need an immediate response or craft a few important emails that they can better focus on while their minds are fresh.
For instance, Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project,” wakes at 6 every morning before her family’s up at 7. She uses the time to clear her inbox, schedule the day, and read social media. Getting these tasks out of the way from the start helps her concentrate better when she moves on to more challenging projects, she told Vanderkam. “
If you are a wise entrepreneur, you know that your daily schedule is incredibly important. You have scheduled your days in advance, setting time aside for specific tasks that have to be performed and for project development. Your time is the most valuable commodity you have.
Checking your email first thing in the morning is one of the best ways to throw your entire schedule out of whack and really mess up your day.
Here’s why I am a NOT a proponent of checking your email first thing in the morning: 90+% of the emails you receive consist of someone wanting something from you. It really is that simple, the sender of the email wants something, whether it is time, money, your opinion, your approval, for you to do something for them, etc., they want your time.
Checking your email first thing in the morning lets the sender hijack your schedule. If there is a task that needs to be accomplished, you will be tempted to shift your focus from what you had planned in the morning to dealing with the task presented in the email. Even worse than a time sink, which you can get yourself out of if you can recognize that you fell into one, is what interruption can do to your mindset and mood.
What happens every time you get a less than pleasant email demanding some sort of action by you or your company? What happens to your mindset and mood? How does that affect your productivity for the rest of the morning?
“But what if there is a major problem” you ask? If the problem is big enough that you need to address it immediately… they will call you instead of or along with sending an email.
If you get up at 6:00 in the morning and start by checking your email, there is a very real possibility your morning will turn into your workday very, very quickly. Your plans to go to get out and exercise or to spend time with your kids before they go to school just got put on hold, by someone else, because you checked your email.
So what’s the solution? If you work for someone else and there is the potential that you will need to know what is in your inbox prior to getting to work, then wait to check your email until you are getting ready to leave for, or are on the way in to work. You could leave ten minutes earlier for work and check your emails in the parking lot before you go inside. Either way, you still own your morning.
If you work for yourself, simply schedule time into your day to check your email and to respond appropriately. Block off time during your workday to go through your unread messages and deliver an appropriate reply. Once the time is up, move on to your next scheduled task!
Remember: if there is a big enough issue, you will get a phone call. In the 10 years I have worked for myself, I have never, ever had an issue that came through only on email that absolutely critical.
Guard your schedule, guard your time… it’s the most valuable thing you have.