It’s another Monday. You boot up your computer, sip your coffee, and mentally prepare to dive head first into the day’s work. But first, the most dreaded task of all: emails. You may feel a sense of urgency to do it, but you know it’ll throw off your flow in the morning. Plus, the internet is one of the biggest distractions for workers, so why allow the temptation when you’re just getting started? Instead of sacrificing that hour (or more) of your precious work time, why not spend it doing something else? Something more productive. Why not work on improving your energy management, instead of hampering it?
Here are three other ways you can start your day without checking your emails.
1.Make a List of Goals
Checking your emails first thing in the morning might be a habit, but try to break it by not starting your computer just yet. Instead, sit down with a pad of paper and a pen and write down your to-do list for the day. What projects are of the highest priority? Put them first on the list. Which projects can wait another day or so? Add them at the bottom.
As for emails, do yourself a favor and don’t check them until prior to your lunch time. Reserving some time before you have to get up from your desk will help prevent you from falling into the rabbit hole that is the internet, while also giving you some time to respond. If some of the emails are stress inducing, you can walk away from your desk, get some lunch, and unwind.
When you’re writing out your to-do list, try to use the 5-3-1 method to prioritize your projects: five small tasks, three medium tasks, and one large task for the day. Overall, you’ll be doing nine total tasks that work up towards your weekly or monthly goal. Not a bad way to plan the day!
Not everyone is a morning person, but if your first cup of coffee or tea in the morning gives you an energizing boost, why not utilize that energy to tackle your biggest project?
One writer, Brian Tracy, dubs this as the “Eat That Frog” method to help boost productivity and workflow. The idea goes: if you had to eat a frog sometime in the day, wouldn’t you prefer to do it first thing so you can get it over with? That way the rest of the day is open to doing whatever else you want, and you’ve gotten that big pesky task out of the way first thing.
Procrastination is certainly a difficult habit to overcome, but breaking that cycle early in the day can help you start off on the right track. Oftentimes big projects are pushed back, while smaller projects — such as emails — are favored to help you get started in the morning. However, if you tackle the big project now, you’ll be able to properly utilize your morning creativity boost. Once you’ve tackled that, the rest of your day will be a breeze!
3.Take it Easy and Meditate
Since some of us are a bit more relaxed in the morning, maybe tackling the biggest project first isn’t the best idea. Instead, try to focus inwards on yourself and get your mind in the right state to start work. Is there an idea you want to flesh out? A concept that has been sitting in your mind for a while? Perhaps a conversation you’ve been meaning to have with your boss?
If you’re the creative sort, meditating on your plan can help you get in the mind of what you want to accomplish for the day. Plus, it’s a lot less stressful than checking your emails!
This is especially helpful if you’ve been stressed recently from things happening outside of work. Sometimes you need to internally address those stressors and get your mindset cleared for the day ahead. Soon you’ll be pushed and pulled into a million different directions, and starting the day by centering yourself and addressing your needs will help you mentally prepare for your busy day.
Plus, writing down your goals will help you be more mindful about your time management. Starting your day with a to-do list might be the perfect form of #MondayMotivation.
Removing the Distraction
Ending the cycle of checking your emails is no easy task. You’ve most likely been doing it for years, and it’s become an ingrained habit. But once you start to make the transition, you could find yourself less stressed and more productive.
Although some emails will be worth your immediate attention, most can lead you down into a vortex of procrastination. By checking emails later in the day, you’ll be able to spend more time addressing each one without taking up precious time for more pressing tasks. Eventually, you might even be able to get your inbox down to zero without all the guilt of wasting your time!
Your energy at the beginning of the day is precious. Make sure you use that early mental energy wisely, and don’t let your emails stand in the way of having a successful morning!
By Katie McBeth
Katie McBeth is a freelance writer out of Boise, ID. She enjoys reading teen novels, eating mac ‘n cheese, and attending indie concerts in small bars. Her love for reading is only trumped by her love for cats, of which she has three. She also has a dog, and he helps keep her grounded. You can follow her animal and writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth
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This is so true. We have to remember that email is just a “tool” and not our primary reason for being. I try and treat email like a post delivery – letters drop on your mat a couple of times a day (old fashioned post service) and you deal with them. The rest of the day you don’t keep going to check your doormat – do the same with your inbox.