For most people, email is a window into what’s changed—what’s important and urgent. But if you open your swiftly-filling inbox first thing in the morning, you’ll find a hundred and one disruptions in the offing. It’ll be hard to settle your mind down and focus.
Don’t use email to source your morning to-do list. Responding to others’ needs and bouncing from task to task can derail you from what’s more important or more difficult—researching something, writing, planning, thinking, problem-solving, for example. Do those things first, when you’re freshest.
Productivity consultant Julie Morgenstern wrote a popular book about this theme: Never Check Email In The Morning (2005) prompts you to find a way to start checking mail less often. Morgenstern argues that email-free time in the morning will snowball into a productive day.
If you must check email first thing in the morning—say, when your job involves communicating with people—set a time limit and look for just those pieces of information that’ll help you forwards.
Idea for Impact: Put yourself in the driving seat; don’t let events drive you
Morgenstern addresses the underlying discipline you need for how you prepare—or fail to prepare—to address the daily influx of demands on our attention. Intentionally choose to do something that requires your single-minded attention, whether relaxing or productive.