Email Hack: Check Your Email First Thing In The Morning

Email Hack: Check Your Email First Thing In The Morning

Every productivity guru, every productivity book, every productivity hack I ever read, say the same thing “Do NOT check your email first thing in the morning”. I disagree.

I understand why they tell us not to do it but I am also pretty damn sure 95% of us don’t listen to their advice. It’s one of those tips that everyone hears but never really follows “drink x cups of water”, “walk x number of steps”, “take x breaks”, “eat less of this and more of that” blah blah.

My attitude “why stress about this”, as soon as I wake up, I pull up my phone skim through my emails and then get out of bed. Honestly, it has made me more productivity and less guilty. No more “damn it, i checked my email again, i have no will power, i suck, this is going to be an unproductive day, this is why I haven’t built the next google. blah blah”

Warning — do not get sucked down a rabbit hole.

You have to be smart about the way you check your email though because it could easily lead down a rabbit hole and bam – 2 hours are gone. Here is how I do it:

  1. Open up Spark (my new favorite email app on the iphone)
  2. Go down the email list and delete/archive unimportant stuff (swipe left)
  3. I see an interesting email that I need to read later TODAY, I just leave it alone, I will get to it later when I am at my computer
  4. I see an email that requires a simple 1-word or 1-line response e.g. thanks, use the blue one, etc… I just reply and then archive it.
  5. I see an email that I need to read or act upon at some point (not necessarily today) e.g. “let’s do lunch next week”, “we should plan a trip to X next month”, etc…, I star it and archive it.  tip: I have a zapier integration to add starred emails to my task manager (Asana), so i get it out of my inbox for later processing.
  6. If there is anything urgent then obviously, I will get up and take care of it. My definition of urgent is pretty strict, so I rarely (almost never) treat an email as urgent.

The entire process takes me less than 5 minutes and now I have an idea of some of the things I need to do throughout the day and I can ponder them while I brush my teeth, shave and/or shower.

Be careful not to start reading every email and clicking every link— you will never getting out of bed. This happens to me occasionally but it is infrequent enough that it hasn’t affected my productivity much.


Also published on Medium.