I admit it, I’m a productivity junkie! I devour information on the subject – books, magazines, newsletters, blogs, etc. – I want it all. Apparently, I’m not alone – there’s a running joke in the productivity communities I frequent about procrastinating by studying how to be more productive.
I’m also a big fan of the scientific method and use it in my daily life all the time. I’ll read about something interesting, test it and decide if it works for me. My personal productivity and time and task management are no different. I’ve got an ever-changing system to keep it all together.
One of the rules I hear most often from experts on productivity is that nobody should check email first thing in the morning. The idea behind this is that it is reactionary – you open your email and start handling whatever is there regardless of how it fits into your business success plan. Once you get into your email, it can be hard to get out. By the time you get to the bottom, more messages have arrived. “Just a peek” turns into hours. A quick question and response leads to a live chat. These long email firestomping sessions rarely lead to anything profitable and they take you out of the driver’s seat for your day. I’m sure you’ve experienced being sidetracked by email – I know I have.
Many experts say you should start your day with something other than email. That something could be an activity you decided on yesterday, your current profit-making project, whatever you find most difficult, what your morning energy level dictates or any other intentionally-chosen project you decide on. It makes a lot of sense, given how easy it is to get sucked into the email rabbit hole. However, this is one area where I don’t follow the experts’ advice
I have a list of things I do first thing every day and email is one of them. I love getting my daily business “housekeeping” out of the way and having a clean slate going into whatever I do next. I like having an empty inbox going into my day so I can spot any urgent messages more easily. It’s great to know that at least once a day, my email inbox is at zero messages and I’m no more than one work session away from zero again.
I think one of the reasons this works for me is that I have a process for handling my email and a specific end point which is an empty inbox. Once I process all the messages that I had as of a certain time, I’m done until tomorrow except for urgent messages.
So what’s the point of my telling you this? First, by all means read what experts have to say but then test and assess for yourself. What works for most people may not work for you. Second, I wanted to give you an alternative to what you might read elsewhere about handling your email.
How do you handle email? When in the day do you look at your inbox? Do you ever buck the advice of experts in this area or others? Tell me about it in the comments.