For years I would walk into the office, sit at my desk, and check my email first thing.
For years I would walking into the office with a long list to accomplish and allow emails to distract me for the first thirty minutes (or more).
For years I would allow other people's priorities to trump my priorities.
It was my fault! I was the one who allowed it. I would even schedule the first thirty minutes of my day to checking email. I would make sure that my team was good. That things were planned and moving forward. I would even "unsubscribe" from a thing or two that I was sick of getting email from.
Over a year ago I stopped checking email first. It has radically changed the way I work. Here are three reasons you should stop checking your email first thing in the morning:
1) It derails your dayHave you ever walked into the office in a chipper mood only to check your email and find yourself shift to irate in a matter of seconds? The email you loathed to read came through. You had a sermon to write, a meeting to prep for, a paper to create and now you are derailed?
You're not the only person. I wish I could count how many times I've allowed my emotions to shift based on an email. There are times my emotions rise, but there are times I see the name of a person and the subject and I know what is going to happen.
When you work at a complex organization this might be more difficult to avoid, but you can set your priorities. Maybe you start small and wait for an hour to check your email. See if anyone notices. See if you get more accomplished. Do a pilot version of not checking your email first and see what happens in your day.
2) You allow others to create your prioritiesThis is the second reason I stopped checking my email is that I found myself allowing others to create priories in my life. Someone would email asking for help on a project. I would need to check a letter that was going to be sent. I had to approve a graphic, but it required a 30 minute conversation and now my whole day was thrown off.
You need to know that I like check lists.
I love checking off boxes and accomplishing things. I have ten different "To Do" lists on my phone and all are categorized.
You might be an organized person or unorganized. Either way, email allows others to dictate your time and priorities. Setting a schedule and a time to check emails helps you regain control of your life.
I've begun checking email two to three times a day. I normally check it around 11:30am, just before I take my lunch break. I can see if there is anything I need to do right now. I can delete the eight junk mail things. I can see if people need prayer or my team needs my help. I look for the email I've been waiting for on the idea I'm stoked on.
After lunch I check it again. I do this because I'm already distracted from lunch and have used my most creative time of the day. I can follow up with something I didn't get to. Then I can shut down my email and check once more before the day is done.
3) You loose some of your best creative timeI'm convinced that when you check your email first, you loose your best creative time. I'm listening to a book right now called Rest and it's helping me to create better rhythms in my life.
You can check email at any time of the day. You can call customers at any time of the day. You can invoice any time of the day. You can order supplies any time of the day. You can.... any time of the day.
Use the morning to do your creative work. Spend a solid three hours to focus on what only you can do. Then check your email in the afternoon.
In fact, I've deleted my work email from my phone completely. It happened on accident when my email required me to reset my password. I had trouble with the app and got upset. I didn't need to check my email that much so I just deleted the app. And guess what, I didn't get fired. I didn't become less productive. I think I'm more productive.
Email causes us to look distraction on other projects, people, family, and to be less involved in the now. Now I just check email on my Mac and sometimes on my iPad if I feel like I have to.
I've gained more creative time and I'm accomplishing more what of what I want (in fact, I'm writing this on Monday afternoon and my sermon for Sunday is already done. I've also written small group questions for next week!)
What would change if you stopped checking email first and less?
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