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I’ve got another mini sabbatical episode for you today (the short, focused ones with me playing kalimba in the background).
Why do we check our email inbox first thing in the morning? We wake up, we roll over, we grab our phone, and we look at our inbox. That’s a surefire way to throw off your day.
I want to briefly share three reasons why it’s a terrible idea to check your inbox right when you wake up.
1. It Puts You in Reactive Mode
When you look at your inbox right away, you’re looking at the tasks that others have for you to do. This sets the tone for your day. You’re going to be reacting to things all day and constantly be in catch-up mode without ever getting ahead.
The world is always going to have priorities for you. It’s not very convenient, but that’s what the inbox is.
If you only reply to what other people ask, you can’t do the work or make the content that compels them to contact you in the first place.
Don’t check the email inbox as the first thing you do.
2. It Makes You Slave to Other People’s Agenda for You
Here’s the question you need to ask yourself:
Do you want to disappoint other people or do you want to disappoint the future version of yourself? Because they’re going to forget tomorrow.
You’re feeling bad because there’s “important” emails and bad things will happen if you don’t respond at 7am instead of 8am. If we’re honest with ourselves, most likely this is not the case and it’s more that it makes us feel important to operate this way.
I think you are an important person. That’s why I want you to act like it by taking control of your own time and agenda. I want you to worry about disappointing the future version of yourself.
- Are you proud of the work you did today?
- Are you proud of the work you did yesterday?
If you’re not, you need to change something. You feel bad about not getting back to this person fast enough, but they’ve already forgotten. We all send emails to people and haven’t gotten replies back. You’ve sent hundreds of emails and never gotten replies back. I doubt you’re losing sleep over them. You’ve probably forgotten.
3. It Zaps Your Most Precious Energy
We just got sleep and charged up our bodies. Our brains are working for us while we sleep. Our subconscious is working on the next day’s problems and is setting us up for a head start.
The charge of sleep gives us the most precious energy of the day. You may not feel energized physically, and it may take that first cup of coffee to see straight, but your mental energy is at peak. Bonus points if you wrote down the three most important tasks you needed to do the night before, because your brain will be working on those for you too.
The first 30 minutes of your day need to be spent on your priorities. Use that charge of sleep wisely. Start with 30 minutes, but work up to spending the first hour or two on your priorities.
What are you going to accomplish today?
Emails Don’t Go Away, But You Can Batch Them
Now, I’m not saying your emails will just magically disappear. Let’s be honest: if you’re focusing on your most important work, that means less of other people’s agendas will get accomplished. This is just reality. You’re going to have to accept this if you want to be productive.
You can’t do your important work and satisfy everyone else’s priorities for your life. You have to choose.
The good news is since you’re no longer a slave to your inbox and other people’s agendas for you, you can be more efficient.
Instead of push notifications interrupting your flow at someone else’s whim and emails taking away your precious energy in the morning, you are focused. This means when it does come time to process your email, you’re actually processing it rather than reacting to it.
You can be in email mode. Boom. Boom. Boom. Email after email, you are blowing through this inbox. Keyboard shortcuts left and right. Archive. Save. Previous. Next. Mark as read. You’ve processed more in 15 minutes than you did in a day! That’s focus. That’s batching.
3 Good Things That Happen When You Don’t Check Email in the Morning
We talked about the downsides of checking email and why it’s detrimental to your productivity, but if we flip each of those around, we get the positives of not checking email right away.
- It puts you in Proactive Mode.
- You will conquer the day.
- It makes you master of your agenda.
- You’ll get the important things done.
- It capitalizes on your precious energy.
- The most potent energy is spent on the most important work.
- Turn off email push notifications.
- Schedule Do Not Disturb mode until after your focus time.
- If you wake up at 7am, schedule Do Not Disturb until 8am so you don’t wake up distracted.
Go have an awesome day!