Should You Check Email When You Wake Up?

By Dusti Arab | Updated: 11 Jan, 2018

You do it even though you know you shouldn't.

Even before you make that first cup of coffee, it's already on your mind. You might even do it while you're still in bed - but you know it can't just be you.

Obviously, I'm talking about checking your phone.

52% of people admit to checking their phones within 15 minutes of getting up; 86% say they do within an hour, according to Deloitte. And what's the first thing most people do?

Check their email. 

Millenials are the worst offenders, with 45% of them checking it upon waking. As one of those Millenials who can't stop checking their emails, I can't help but ask - is it really such a bad thing to do?

When is the best time to check email?

Well, it depends. Knowing yourself, as well as understanding what your life requires of you right now, is important in order to make the best call.

We did some digging, and it turns out for some of us, checking email first thing in the morning doesn't have to be a productivity killer. 

These questions will help you make sure you're not jeopardizing your focus.

1. What are your best work hours?

When do you do your best work? Whether you're a night owl or an early bird, you know there is a certain time of day your focus tends to be better. If you can keep those hours clear, you can plug in less trying tasks for later.

2. Is handling it now going to maximize your focus time later?

Managing your inbox on the go can potentially be a way to free up time later in the day. If you have time waiting for the train, sitting in an Uber, or waiting for your meal to arrive in a restaurant (assuming you're not eating with anyone else), then going through and quickly archiving anything that doesn't require a response can be a time saver later.

3. Is checking your email stressing you out?

For people who leave all of their tasks in their email, it can turn checking email into a constant source of overwhelm. If this is you, skip the morning check-in. 

In essence...

The biggest problem with starting your day with email is the fact that email is, by its nature, is a tool that puts us into reaction mode. And if focus is the most valuable resource you have - which means anything that gets in the way of that needs to be actively avoided.

You might now be able to completely sidestep your email in the mornings, but there are ways to improve the situation. Here are our top tips for making the most out of a less than ideal medium

1. Get better at processing email quickly.

Charlie Gilkey's S.T.A.R. (Scan, Trash, Archive, Respond) method is a great place to start. Get rid of what's easy to get rid of, and save the rest for when you're at your desk.

2. Get better at sending hard emails.

Some emails are quick and easy to write. Some emails, you avoid as long as possible. Whether it's because you're not quite sure what to say, you're making an ask, or admitting something less than optimal, taking too long to answer these is bad for you and bad for the people who need responses.

Here's some solid advice for writing and sending hard emails.

3. Make your inbox work harder.

Drag App turns your email inbox into a project and task management system. You can assign tasks to each email in order to maximize the time you are spending inside of your inbox.

Linking up prospecting tools and CRM software to your inbox so you instantly have access to information about the client is another way to save time when you are working out of your inbox. 

The Bottom Line

People who start their day with intention are more effective.

And starting your day with email? It means you're probably putting your fate into someone else's hands - unless you have a foolproof system and are immune to reacting to other people's needs. (Teach us your ways.)

Want a better way to start your day? The simple tips here are a great way to improve your mood for the entire in 10 minutes or less.