There are numerous posts, blogs, articles on-line trying to help people manage their e-mail and not being managed by their e-mail, giving tips on best practice and how to be most productive. Here are my thoughts on a couple of the principals, with something more thorough to follow in subsequent posts.
Whilst a number of experts and articles suggest not opening e-mails first thing in the morning to aid personal productivity, the argument being about the distraction it brings and that what you had planned should be more important that what others try to get you onto via e-mail.
However, in today’s global business world this is not always practical.
If you have internal or external customers in other time zones then that early check can make the difference between a response within their same working day or not, which might be critical on some projects.
A quick check on BlackBerry during breakfast helps me know what does need a couple of words right then or something more when I do get into the office, before getting back to what I had planned. Throughout David Allen’s GTD explanations he repeated mentions that you should have systems that are flexible, as requirements change after all.
The principal of inbox zero and not using your inbox as a to-do list are however valuable suggestions. Try and only open an item in your inbox once – either answer, archive or put into your system for collecting more involved action items to process. If you open it, read it, think about it close it and come back to it in your inbox again (and maybe again) then it really is taking too much of your time without making any progress.