The benefits of checking mail once per day

1 minute read

In the last 8 weeks or so, my job has required me to become a deleter of emails rather than someone who gets stuff done. This was a depressing realisation. I pride myself on my ability to avoid distraction and focus on what’s important. Not so much recently. I turned off email on my phone - helped a bit - but I’d reverted back to bad habits such as:

  • leaving MailMate open and stopping - hey! new mail! - to look at it whilst switching to another app
  • ooh, I think I’ll have a quick check of the news (AGAIN)
  • working early, working late, always with the working…
  • not remembering that being busy does not mean I’m being effective

I enjoyed reading Scott Hanselman's Complete List of Productivity Tips (you had me at productivity and tips). 'Avoid mail in the morning and at night' is good advice. It makes so much sense, reminds me of similar guidance from Merlin Mann and others but I’ve long since forgotten or ignored it.

On Sunday evening, I decided enough was enough. Between 1pm - 2pm on each weekday I check and respond to email and that’s it.

What happened? Well, it’s only 2 days in but some observations:

  • nothing bad happened
  • a senior client sent me 6 emails between 2pm yesterday and 11am this morning that meant they answered their own question
  • I made 6 calls that I’d put off for months (I know...) and wrote drafts for 2 documents I’d promised to do this week

I’m sticking with it. All change please.