How to Get More Work Done in the Morning

PC hassles come in all shapes and sizes. Usually I focus on concrete stuff like printer problems and Windows glitches, but there are more abstract hassles that merit attention as well.

For example, I sometimes find that even when I get to my desk bright and early, it takes an hour or two before I'm able to get any meaningful work done. No, it's not because I've wasted time chit-chatting with co-workers or waiting for the coffee maker to finish brewing a new pot. There's another, more insidious culprit: e-mail.

Like many (perhaps most?) folks, I spend the first chunk of my day reading and responding to e-mail. And as I've recently discovered, that's a mistake. E-mail is a huge distraction, one that can steer you away from important tasks at the time of day when you're at your best. (I don't know about you, but my mind is razor-sharp right after the first cup of java.)

What's the solution to this "hassle"? Simple: stop checking e-mail first thing in the morning. It'll be painful at first--trust me, I know--but I think you'll come to find it both liberating and efficient.

Instead of checking your mail, do some real work. Write that proposal. Update those spreadsheets. Finish that presentation. Get at least a few concrete tasks done, then tackle your inbox. Heck, I say make a game of it: see how long you can go before looking at a single e-mail. Can you make it all the way to lunch?

I realize this won't work for everyone, especially if you have bosses or clients who assign time-sensitive jobs via e-mail. But for me it's made a huge improvement in my productivity. I now try to write at least two blog posts before succumbing to the distraction of e-mail--and that leaves me with a great sense of accomplishment. Give it a try and see if you don't get similar results.

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