If all goes well, technically, your mailbox be receiving this e-mail newsletter at about 5.30 am. [This weblog was born as one of my e-mail newsletters. If it helps, just act as if you’re reading this while still in bed. – Bert] A bit early in the morning, don’t you agree? But your mailbox won’t mind. The question, rather, is: when you do actually read this?
Start of day
Are you reading this message before breakfast? Is your smartphone or tablet the first thing you grab when you wake up?
More and more people use their smartphone as an alarm clock – apparently the friendlier wake up sounds make up for the risks – but does that automatically mean you need to look at your e-mail first thing in the morning? What’s the benefit of doing so? Is there anything you can do with and/or about it, while still in your pyjama’s? So what’re you doing with this here e-mail newsletter? Unsubscribe right away, because that dude is asking annoying questions?
Oh, so you’re just looking what has come in during the night. How is that knowledge going to help you, this early in the morning? Is that your idea of a great way to start the day, knowing what crises you’re going to face at work? Does that give you peace of mind during breakfast? Or are you going to skip breakfast now?
Start of work day
Or maybe you’re seeing this for the first time at the office. Is that how you start your day too, by diving straight into your e-mail? Come in, switch on computer, take off coat, grab some coffee, now let’s see what’s new in my e-mail?
You’re not the only one. Most people start their working day by checking e-mail. As if reading and answering e-mail is the most important thing there is! And so maybe there are two or three e-mails that need urgent attention; or maybe there are a few questions you can readily answer. Oh, but while answering those mails you recall that you have a few issues of your own that need someone’s attention, so let’s do those mails, now, too.
And before you know the morning’s mostly gone, and the rest of your day is taken up by meetings…
E-mail is seductive. Ding goes the computer, and the Pavlovian response is to go and check it out. We’re biologically programmed to take note of things that are new, or at least changing. But that doesn’t mean it’s wise to yield to that temptation. If you want to remain in control of your own work, you’d better learn to resist Outlook’s siren call.
The easiest yet most effective way is to not start your work day with your e-mail. Rather, use the first 30-60 minutes of your day to work on your own priorities instead of someone else’s. The two or three most important things you’d really like to have worked on today. If possible, determine and write down what those things are just before you leave at the end of the day.
You’ll notice that you can get a lot more done in these 30-60 minutes that during the rest of the day. Part of that has to do with still being fresh in the morning, but more importantly: your attention hasn’t yet been hijacked by whatever’s in your e-mail. Which means you can truly focus on the task that’s in front of you, and that means you’ll be way more efficient and effective.
Added bonus: once you’ve done those two or three things, whatever else happens: your day is made. After all, you’ve already done the two (or three) most important things for today.
A small change, but just try it. It’ll give a tremendous boost to your working day.
E-mail in the morning: it stinks!