3 things that you should do before e-mails to boost your productivity

And how to get your day off to a really productive start

Picture this, you’ve just arrived into work. You get your coffee, switch your PC on… and then what do you do?

After asking this question to an awful lot of people over the years I’m willing to bet that the answer is…

‘Open my inbox and start scrolling through vast amounts of e-mails’.

Now although you might be thinking that this is absolutely the right thing to do, after all, what if something really needs your attention? I’m going to go out on a limb here and let you know that this isn’t all that great for your productivity.

I’m sure you’ve been here before.

Your inbox – otherwise known as the blackhole of all time – has the ability to zap time right out of your day without you even realising it….and let’s face it, your inbox is there to serve you and not the other way round.

“Your inbox is there to serve you, and not the other way round. Time to show it who’s boss.” Barbara Nixon

So let’s look at 3 things that you need to be doing before you even open your e-mails and why how they’ll really boost your productivity.

1. Check in with your team

What I mean by checking in with your team is to actually spend a couple of minutes speaking to them before you do anything else. The purpose of this quick chat is to a) have a bit of a chit chat “what did you do last night? How are the kids? What did you watch on telly?” and b) to get the low down of what they’re working on that day. What’s on fire? What’s important on their list? What ideas have they got? Do they need you for anything?

How this will help: Once you’ve got into the habit of doing this a few times you’ll find that you’ll start getting fewer e-mails from your team as they’ll know that they’ll have you for a couple of minutes in the morning. You’ll also find out first hand if there’s anything that really needs your attention without you having to open your inbox and risk getting sucked in.

Also, and this is the best reason of all, it’ll really boost your team as you increase your communication and everyone will have some air time first thing.

2. Write your list for the day

Now you might have already done this the previous day, in which case great. However, this time scan down and pick 3 things that you absolutely need to do before you leave for home. Just 3 things! Sure you could do 5 or even 10, but any more than 3 is a bonus and you can absolutely cartwheel out to the car…but at the bare minimum a great day would be the 3 things that you’ve chosen.

Now, here are the rules….these 3 things must, and I repeat must,  add value to your team, your business or to you…and they absolutely must be ones that can’t be delegated.

How this will help: So many of us (and yes I’ve been here too) get caught up with being busy, without really thinking about how we’re spending our really precious time and whether what we’re doing is actually going to make a jot of difference. By focusing on 3 things (that will add value) every single day you’ll be able to make massive strides in your productivity and you’ll feel great too.

3. Do one thing off your new list

Here’s where you get started….pick one thing off your list and crack on. This is the trick to making this happen so you don’t slip back. Take a guess at how much time it’s going to take you to do this one task and be realistic. Then set the alarm on your phone and get to work. Your job is to get it done before your alarm goes off. Yes you might get interrupted, and that’s ok…just pause your timer, deal with the interruption and tell them you’ll get back to them, and then just re-start.

How this will help:  This works in a couple of ways. Firstly, once you have completed one of your main tasks early doors you’ll feel fantastic and this will really motivate you to get the others done. Also, making it a game really does help as it adds a sense of urgency to the task which is great for focusing the mind.

Yes, doing something different at the start of your day is going to take a little bit of practice, but it really does work…give it a try.


 I’d love to know: What is your main tip for boosting your productivity? Let me know by leaving a comment.


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