The One Thing You Should Never Do First Thing in the Morning

Last Updated Jan 24, 2011 9:36 AM EST

Quick: What's the first thing you did upon sitting down at your desk this morning? I'll bet you a donut you checked your e-mail. Makes sense: it probably piled up overnight, and you want to see what fires need putting out.

Big mistake. According to personal-development trainer Sid Savara, checking your e-mail first thing will invariably distract you from the more important tasks already on your to-do list. In other words, it's a productivity-killer. Here's his recommendation:

As soon as you get up, work on something important for 30-45 minutes, and only then check [your e-mail]. If you can stand it, wait even longer. Some days I don't check e-mail at all until after lunch.

And you know what? As long as you're ignorant of everything else that's going on outside, you can concentrate on what you want to work on.

Obviously this won't work for everyone, but for me the advice is solid gold. I almost always make e-mail my first task of the day, and it's a big one: I spend close to an hour reading, filing, and/or answering mail before I finally start blogging -- at which point it's almost 10 a.m., and I'm worried about being behind.

This morning, however, I'm not touching Outlook until I have at least one post written -- maybe even two or three. That way I'll have a sense of accomplishment under my belt before I deal with the chore that is my inbox.

Your thoughts? Think this method would be helpful to you as well, or do you have too many morning fires that only e-mail can extinguish? Share your thoughts in the comments. And be sure to check out the rest of 7 Reasons You Should Never Check Email First Thing in the Morning. [via Gizmodo]

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.