Almost everybody complains about email. They’ll say it’s distracting, it’s endless, or it pulls them away from what they should really be doing. And they’re usually right.
Just like social media feeds, email is virtually endless. The idea of catching up to your email, or practicing inbox zero, is ridiculous. If you’re one of those people who forces yourself to empty your entire inbox everyday before leaving work, then I have news for you – you’re not free from email, you’re a slave to it. Or maybe you just don’t get that much email in the first place.
A better way to interact with your email is to put it in its proper place. Most people will tell you that the first thing they do every morning is check email. Does that mean its the most important part of the work day? More likely it means that they’d rather react to their inbox than actually plan out their day. But if you want to rise above the tide of busywork, if you want to be in control of your time, you’ll have to decide where email fits into your life. Remember that email is a tool to help you communicate. And as with other tools, when you don’t need it, you should put it down.
The first few hours of your morning are precious because you’re mind is still unpolluted by the happenings of the day. This is the best time to do your most important work. And unless you’re in sales, and maybe not even then, I doubt that email is your most important work. You’ve probably heard that some CEO’s wake up ridiculously early to do their important work, but that’s because they lead large organizations who desperately need their attention at 9AM. But if you’re not the leader of an organization, then you don’t need to wake up super early, you just need to protect your mornings.
“But what do I do about those super urgent emails I wake up to every day?”
The answer is simple. Answer your urgent emails at the end of the day. When you send someone an email, you’re essentially taking a problem that’s yours, and making it someone else’s problem. Those urgent emails you wake up to every day, many of them are sent by clever people who send email either very late or very early. And if you respond first thing in the morning, they might send it right back at the end of the day, and in the morning it will be on your plate again.
It’s time escape the cycle. Ignore email before 11am, and respond to urgent emails at the end of the day. Try it, you won’t regret it.