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I have been getting in a bad habit lately. I check my email right when I get up, and then I leave it open, answering emails throughout the day. One problem with this way of doing life is that it’s reactive. I’m not directing my schedule or my life. I’m at the mercy of whoever sends me an email. What ends up happening is that my most important tasks get pushed to the back burner. I get to them if I have time, but sometimes they don’t get finished, and I end my day disappointed.

A second problem with checking email throughout the day is that I have to do a lot of task switching. Task switching occurs when I’m focused on one thing, and then I have to shift focus and do something different. Every time I task switch, I lose my focus, and it takes a minute or two to get it back. It’s not an efficient way of doing life.

Instead of checking my email first thing in the morning, one habit I have been trying to implement is to do one thing before checking my email. In other words, I try to think about my most important task for the day, and I try to finish that task before I even open my email. I work on that one task for however long it takes to finish. Then I let myself check my email and go about my normal day. Even if the rest of my day is less efficient, I know that every day, I will complete at least one of my priorities.

Discussion: Do you check email first thing in the morning? Is your email open throughout the day? What do you think about the strategy of doing one thing before checking your email?