Making Work Work was the original title of this book when it was first published in 2004. But the paperback edition is called Never Check E-Mail in the Morning - and that's probably the most famous piece of advice Julie Morgenstern provides. Here's her reasoning.
E-mail is the biggest time-suck of the modern workday. We interrupt ourselves every five minutes to check our in-boxes, hoping for something more interesting, more fun, or more urgent than whatever we're working on in that moment. . . . E-mail is undoubtedly the world's most convenient procrastination device.This last bit sounds very much like Mark Forster's current initiative as described in his 2006 book, Do It Tomorrow. Mark explains it this way:
. . . Instead, devote that first hour every day to your most critical task. When you devote your first hour to concentrated work - a dash - the day starts with you in charge of it rather than the other way around.
The idea behind the current initiative is that you start work every day by concentrating on one selected initiative.Gina on Lifehacker thinks that Julie Morgenstern is onto something. She writes:
. . . My definition of the current initiative is 'what you do first every day'. It is what you do every day before you start on your email, voicemail, paper, tasks and daily tasks. This is a priority spot that is designed to be given only to those things that are important for the future.
I'll be honest: I scoffed at Morgenstern's advice at first, because my work has so much to do with what's happening in my inbox. However, right now it's 9:30AM and I haven't yet checked my email. I'm not sure what's going on in there, but this article that's due tomorrow no matter what? It'll be done.And Merlin Mann at 43 Folders concurs:
I’ve discovered that a lot of my most unpalatable, low-priority email arrives overnight; it’s when most cron jobs and mailing digests run, plus, I suspect, it’s when a lot of garden-variety crazies get their second wind (or 12th beer).Tim Ferris in The 4-Hour Workweek goes further, recommending:
Waiting an hour or so to collect the overnight haul buys me time to wake up, get some work done, and generally orient myself. By the the time I raise the electronic flood gate, I’m already feeling on top of things and have no problem blowing through all my mail in a few short minutes. Even the crazy ones.
Check e-mail twice per day, once at 12:00 noon or just prior to lunch, and again at 4:00 P.M. 12:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. are times that ensure you will have the most responses from previously sent e-mail. Never check e-mail first thing in the morning. Instead, complete your most important task before 11:00 A.M. to avoid using lunch or reading e-mail as a postponement excuse.And he has a footnote about the "never check e-mail first thing" rule:
This habit alone can change your life. It seems small but has an enormous effect.Confession time: I have not yet tried this myself - but I sure understand the thinking behind it!