You have an email-open problem. Stop opening them.

You’re not ready to open

It amazes me how often people will open my emails, and not actually take an action step like respond. Ever since I installed an email-open tracker, I’m seeing the detriment of emails from a completely new perspective; from the perspective of the sender. This has also enabled me to take notice of my own email habits. Opening, but not responding. This is a bad habit, in fact a dangerous one. For anyone who’s read GTD (Getting Things Done, by David Allen), you’ll know that almost every email you open creates a mini-task in your brain. Simply, you need to respond. All these mini tasks add up to noise. This noise drains your mental and physical energy. See: brain energy consumption. The solution? Easy. Don’t open emails unless you’re ready to take action. What is that action? Exactly my point. You don’t know until you open the email. So, next time you have 10 minutes of wait time at the teller, or perhaps between meetings, don’t bother opening emails only to find yourself doing nothing about them. Instead, grab your book of the month, which I assume you have on you at all times, and read 5-8 pages.

So you’re ready to open emails, eh?

Big question: What time is it? If it’s before 11am, you’re robbing yourself, your team, and the world from the best productive hours of the day. In an older post, I’ve written about our email policy at work (Pixel Dreams – best fucking place to work, in the Alpha Quadrant). Here’s the short of it. We avoid emails until 11am. Why?

Your first 3-5 hours of the day is your best. Your brain is most optimal to tackle big deal items. You’re super creative, able to problem solve complex challenges, and have the energy and sharpness of an android ninja. ( PS – I don’t buy your BS about working better at night. My research says this is false. I dare you to sleep early and try a 4am work session. Moving onwards.) As creatives and problem solvers, reading emails in the day is not the best use of our time. In fact, it’s a sad waste of quality productive kick-ass time.

Next time you’re thinking about cleaning your inbox, chill, relax, and do something more productive. Trust me – the world will not end if you open your email after 11am. If it’s an emergency, someone will call.

Thoughts? Questions? Love this? Hate it? Am I crazy?