Breaking Those Productivity Rules

Published Friday, June 25, 2010 7:46 AM

Go ahead, check your e-mail in the morning

Productivity "rules" are great - in a few words, they quickly remind you of what you need to do (or not do!) to have a productive a day.  But what about when one of these "always do this" or "never do that" rules don't work for you?

Let's take "never check e-mail in the morning."  Great advice that works for many.  But if checking your e-mail in the morning doesn't throw you way off course, and you find that once you get a few key e-mails out of the way you are then better able to focus on more important work, that's a successful routine for you - keep doing it, and stop feeling guilty about it.

Now, if the reason you keep trying to embrace this rule is because you do end up lingering in your inbox and wasting time, customize the rule to fit that reality.  One way you can do that is by asking "if I were to check e-mail in the morning and make the best, most productive and genuine use of my time, what would that look like?"

For example:

When I check e-mail in the morning...

  • I check for e-mail only from Bob, Angie, and Mark
  • I do not open any personal or irrelevant e-mail
  • I deal only with urgent, deadline-based, or quick action items, and leave the rest

Having these "do's and don'ts" spelled out in black and white can help pull you out of an e-mail trance on those days when you might need a little help to keep you focused.  And you can go through this process for any other activities that tend to throw your day off course.  Keep these reminders to 3-5 points, visible, and handy (index cards work well), so you can read them every day.

Make productivity rules work for you: they can best help keep you on track to a productive day when you customize them to fit your personality, situation, and the way you work.

Claudine Motto is a Productivity Coach and Professional Organizer in Wellington, Florida.  She works with women business owners who want to work smarter and get more done so they can have more time to grow the business that they love, and have more fun doing it.  For more tips and information, go to, connect with her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.


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# Puja said on Thursday, March 15, 2012 1:32 AM

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