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Email Can Wait


Email Can Wait

As a creature of habit, my morning routine establishes the course of my day. I wake up while everyone else is still asleep, so I have the house to myself. I make a cup of coffee, cook a bit of bacon, and then sit at the kitchen table to read from a book for thirty minutes. After reading, I get to work on my current writing project. This is my idea of a perfect morning.

It all turns to dust the minute I check my email. The urgent leaps out from the screen, grabs me by the throat, and drags me kicking and screaming away from my perfect morning into the bowels of the salt mines.

The later in the day I wait to check my email, the more productive I am and the happier I am at the end of the day. Even if I wait until 10:30am to check it, somehow the world keeps spinning, the widgets still get made, and Lou Gorman still has lunch.

Use the time between waking and first checking email to work on the most important task/item/priority for the day. It’s important and valuable time to apply a clean slate to the top priority, before other people’s priorities have scribbled all over the canvas. This practice makes you more effective and, at the end of the day, happier with what you accomplished.

[callout]Get posts like this delivered straight to your inbox by clicking here and signing up for the newsletter. I don’t rent out or loan out my email list. Too much effort.[/callout]

Any message that is urgent and time-sensitive probably should not have been sent via email in the first place. And, honestly, if your most important and critical task of the day is replying to email, you may want to re-examine, in this order:

  1. Your priority list
  2. Your current position
  3. Your career choice

The value individuals place on email, depending on whether or not they’re the sender or receiver, fascinates me. It seems to follow the normal human miscalculation wherein people estimate most of what they SEND as important and urgent and most of what they RECEIVE as unimportant or non-urgent. Similar to the way that 84% of people rate themselves as above-average.

Most email – mine, yours, his or hers – really is non-urgent and unimportant. But, as with everything I say or write, don’t take my word for it. Pick a day and try it out yourself. Create a folder in your email client called “Email-test” and drag every email you receive that day into the folder after you’re done reading it. Then create a calendar reminder for 3 months from today. When that day comes, with 3 months of hindsight, review that full day’s worth of email. How many would you now label as important or really were urgent? How many caused you to take action that created value? How many could have waited for 4 hours or a day or a week for a reply? Or even never?

P.S. If this post arrived to you via email, disregard all of the above. This message is urgent and important. I know because I sent it.


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