Productivity Tip – Check your e-mail the same time every day

This is a follow-up to my previous productivity tip – check your e-mail twice a day.

I hope I already convinced you in the previous tip that answering every e-mail when it arrives is a productivity drain and it's better to handle e-mail in batches – but there are two small details I left out:

  1. You have to check your e-mail at the same times every day (approximately, when coming back from lunch is as good as 2:43PM).
  2. And you have to completely forget about e-mails between e-mail checks.

Checking your e-mail at the same time is important because:

  • It's easier to stick to new habits if you work them into your daily routine.
  • It removes the temptation to check your e-mail now instead of later (and discovering an important message didn't arrive – so you have to check later anyway, and before you know it you're back to checking your e-mail every 5 minutes).
  • It makes it clear to other people when they'll get a reply from you.

Checking you mail only twice a day at fixed times helps your productivity in two different ways, the first and obvious is that it makes handling you e-mail less disruptive and more efficient, the second, less obvious is that when people understand that it takes time to get your response they won't e-mail you if it's something they can easily do themselves.

posted @ Tuesday, February 5, 2008 12:08 PM

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