Is this one habit derailing your day?

I’m just going to jump right in and attack this right off the bat.

Do you check your email first thing in the morning?

I know it’s tempting. I mean, it’s right there on your phone or on your computer. Why not quickly have a look-see at what’s come in while you were sleeping? No harm, right?


What inevitably happens?

Suddenly you’ve gone from waking up with a clear head, to thinking about all the new stuff you now have to get done that day.

All you’re doing is opening up a floodgate and your chances of getting to your MIT (that’s your most important task) slips further and further away.

If you start your day by checking and responding to email, you’ll have a hard time recovering. And just one little email can derail and destroy any planning you have done for the day.

Talk about creating stress!


Email is a great communication tool when it’s managed.

The trouble with email is that it’s reactive, not proactive.

Those requests and unexpected surprises, reminders, and problems are endless – they’re a predictable source of unpredictable work.

The truth is there’s very little that can’t wait, even for an hour.

Yes. I said an hour! 60 minutes. That’s all.

Here are a few good reasons why you should stop checking your email first thing in the morning …

Morning time is your most productive time of the day.
We all have natural energy and attention levels that fluctuate throughout the day. Most of us are at our peak first thing in the morning then begin to drop off mid to late morning.

Some of your emails may be really important and will require you to be as focused and alert as possible in order to deal with it. Some of it can wait until you’re at that time of the day when your attention is starting to wane.

The trouble is, once you get into your email it’s all mooshed together and you end up working on less-than-important stuff in the midst of the really important stuff.

You have other work that needs the best of your attention too. Getting sucked into your email first thing in the morning means you may be sacrificing some of the best of your limited energy and attention.

Ignorance is bliss…fully productive.
As long as you’re ignorant of everything else that’s going on in that inbox, you can focus on what you want to work on and get important stuff done.

You don’t know about the latest fire that needs to be put out. You don’t know about the request for random information. You don’t know about the meeting request for next week that will require you to adjust your schedule.

You can just dive in and work on your MIT for the day. Even if you only get it started at least you’ve made some headway on it before the other stuff takes over.

It’s not YOUR to-do list.
When you check your email you risk doing what someone else wants you to do. The items you end up working on – even if it’s just replying and giving information – end up being tasks for other people rather than for yourself.

In other words, the emails you get are a to-do list that someone else is making up for you.


Who’s in charge of your time … you, or the people emailing you?

There’s no set time limit.
If I were to ask you how long you spend on email once you open your inbox, chances are you probably don’t know or you will seriously underestimate it.

Checking email doesn’t really take all that long but getting sucked into the follow-up actions that result from opening up your inbox can take up a lot of your time. There’s really no way of knowing just how much time these will take,

Some days you may not even get out of your inbox until lunch!

Set a time limit on how long you’re willing to spend on your email. This will force you to be decisive and ruthless. Respond to those quick emails. Schedule time to work on the longer ones. File what needs to be filed. Delete a bunch. Then get back to your other work.

Don’t let email suck you in and cause you to devote more time to it than you can afford.

It builds expectation.
But I have to check my email! People expect a response from me first thing!

I hear this all the time.

Do you know why people expect a response from you? It’s probably because you always do it and they’ve become accustomed to it.

We teach people what to expect from us. Just stop checking and responding first thing and soon enough, people won’t expect it anymore.

Quit making email your top priority for the day. That’s really what you’re doing when you check it before doing anything else. Work on one important thing first. Seriously … just one thing before you open up your email.

If the rest of your day gets derailed, at least you will have accomplished one important thing for the day.

No email first thing in the morning … get more done.

About Georgina Forrest

Georgina Forrest is a Productivity Coach & Organizing Specialist at Smartworks! Enterprises Inc. in Red Deer, Alberta. Her credentials include Certified Professional Organizer (CPO®), Organizer Coach, and membership with Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) where she has attained Gold Leaf status – a designation acknowledging her as an experienced professional organizer. Her specialties are geared toward increasing productivity, streamlining administration and decreasing stress in the workplace. She will teach you how to manage your time, space and information so you can be more effective and efficient at work. Additionally she offers training programs, productivity coaching and time management-related presentations.