is my ex girlfriend lying about being single

by John Cummings on February 18, 2010

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Never Check Your Email in the

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Morning by Julie Morgenstern is a great book for professionals looking for ways to destroy their time vampires and get more out of their work day.   I read it.  I tried it.  I agree with many of the basic premises of the book, especially that “email is the biggest time suck of the modern workday.”  The book is extremely well-written and very useful because of it’s exceptional organization and readability.

But I must confess that I disagree with the major premise of the book, reflected in the title itself.  In my own business as a web-based entrepreneur and more recently as a top-producing member of a sales organization, I tried the technique of NOT checking email in the morning and found it to be flawed for a number of reasons, IMHO.   And it’s not because I did not have the discipline to carry out her command.   The idea is flawed because in order to focus on the most important tasks of the day, we need to know what they are, before we start.

My advice . . .

ALWAYS check email in the morning. First.  Early.  If possible, check it before the sun ever comes up on your day.  And here are the reasons why I think you’ll sell more, make more money and get out of the office and home earlier for dinner (or lunch) if you do that.   This is one of the most crucial principles of time management – working without the stress of the unknown that sits in your inbox each day.

One of Miss Morgenstern’s main reasons for not checking email in the morning is that checking email leads to a big time vampire.  As she says, reflecting the apparent sentiment of many a time waster: “Getting the Little Stuff Done First Feel Satisfying.”   Absolutely true.  She adds:

“Warming up your day by knocking off a bunch of quick, easy tasks is tempting, but it can provide you with a false sense of accomplishment . . . The danger in this approach is that the bulk of your energy gets depleted over a bunch of insignificant tasks . . . then guess what?  It’s time for lunch!”

What I agree with is that starting your day by just picking off small tasks wastes most mornings and often many afternoons.  But I think that one of reasons we do this is not just a cop out to tackle easy stuff first.  Another reason is the dread of the rising water.

One of the sensations we have each day is a fear that if we don’t get rid of those emails from yesterday (and last week, and last month) eventually, we’re going to start losing track of some important stuff in that inbox.  The truth is that we probably will.  Am I right?  Who can keep up?!

Well, YOU can.  You can keep up because there is a better way.  The well-intentioned goal of Miss Morgenstern’s book is that we would spend our best hours on the most productive tasks; the tasks that are closest to the revenue line; the tasks that are the shortest path to our next dollar.  Agreed.

But what to do with all of the other emails and the crippling weight that they exert over us every day?  In my own experience, those emails would speak to me all morning long, even as I endeavored to work in 50-minute blocks of time on the most important and most critical tasks of the day.    At some point during the day, one of those little suckers would come and get me.   Dr. Smith’s proposal was supposed to be done by noon and now it’s one o’clock and the emails about Dr. Smith’s proposal are in my inbox.  Now I have another one from someone gently reminding me about it because it was lost in the flood.

So, here’s the plan.   Set aside one hour (or less) each day before your workday or at least before anyone else is likely to start bothering you with any real new email volume.  Clear out your inbox.  One by one.  Assign each email to a task on your calendar or do that task if you can do it in less than 2 minutes.  By the time you’re done, you’ll have your day planned and you can effectively run your day, under control, as contemplated by Julie Morgenstern’s book.  But you won’t have any old email begging for your attention.

What I’m describing here is a technique that requires more treatment than this blog can cover but I address it in more detail in the  free eBook “Ten Ways to Get Your Work Done and Get Out of the Office Before Lunch”.   Clearing out your inbox takes courage and a technique but it’s one of 10 things that you can do that in less than 2 weeks will free up at least two hours in every work day.   Get your copy of that book on the right side of this page.

I’ll be addressing more of Julie’s book in a later blog when I talk about how to manage your email throughout the day.  Good luck!


Coming up – a review of Getting Things Done by David Allen. The premise of the book is The Art of Stress Free Productivity and it underscores the reasons why NOT checking your email could ruin your day.  Every day . . .

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