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Handling your emails

Handling your emails
20 February 2020 John Moore

We all want to be productive, but some of our habits work against this such as how we handle emails.  What we do first thing sets the pattern for the day. Getting into the right headspace first thing is key.

I used to have a morning ritual of sitting down at my desk, logging on and sifting through all my emails before focusing my energies on my ‘real’ work. I also used to check out LinkedIn and Facebook which all sounds harmless enough, but here are some compelling reasons why I advise against starting your day like this:

  1. Ignorance is bliss

Most of the emails in my in-box that arrive overnight are ‘red herring, time wasting distractions’. They contain messages and other people’s emergencies asking me to ‘put out’ metaphorical fires, respond to ‘so-called’ urgent requests and ‘quick favours’ or to read something I never knew about or wanted to learn about.

Without realising it, my mind switches in a ‘reactive’ mindset setting the tone and tempo for the rest of my day. I now check out my overnight e-mails, later in the morning, when I know my day’s purpose and real priorities.

  1. Emails NEVER make you efficient

I used to think that sorting out my overnight emails first thing enabled me to ‘clear the decks’ so I could work on priority tasks and start the day with a clean slate. Now I start my day by tackling whatever is top of my to-do list, giving my inbox a wide berth until I have completed a few high priority tasks.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Mark Twain

  1. Plan your own schedule

I was literally a ‘slave’ to my inbox – it was telling me what to do and by when. My ‘Eureka’ moment was when a colleague said to me “When exactly did other people’s schedules and priorities take precedence over yours?”

In my experience, the most successful people, aren’t the ones who work the longest hours, but rather those who manage to block out the noise around them and make the best use of the time they have available. Checking a few emails may not be the biggest crime in the world, but when it comes to being productive it’s about starting as you mean to go on.


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John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.