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 be getting out of bed. This happens to me occasionally but it is infrequent enough that it hasn’t affected my productivity much.


Originally published at Emad Ibrahim.