Shut Your Email Off

By | March 1, 2006

Edition #26 – 3/15/2006

If you want to get stuff done…


For many of you, the mere thought of it might make you uncomfortable.

“How can I just shut it off?”
“What if I don’t receive an important announcement?”
“I need to be there for my customers.”

Look… this is coming from a marketer who makes significant income from sending emails to people like you. And I’m here to tell you:

It’s OK.

Your business will not crash and burn. Your customers will not freak out (hopefully).

I usually start my day with aspirations of accomplishing a lot. However, I too often get sucked into the whirlpool of never-ending email. Maybe you know what it’s like… The moment you finish clearing out your inbox you hit send/receive and it fills right back up again.

Before you know it, lunch time has passed, and you’re just getting around to the things you really wanted to work on.

Shut the email off.

The only way to build your business, and launch new websites, and develop new products, is to spend your time doing those things. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not telling you to abandon your email. By all means, customer service is #1. But it doesn’t have to come at the expense of never having time to develop your business.

Here’s what I often do… I check my email first thing in the morning. I reply to as many as possible as quickly as possible. I try not to get side tracked by too many marketing offers. As soon as I finish replying to that batch, I shut it down.

Most of the time, I’ll just minimize Outlook, but if I have something really important to work on, I’ll totally close the program to eliminate the temptation of taking “email breaks”.

If I’m not working on any imminent projects, I’ll check my email several times throughout the day. But if I’m working to get something done by a deadline (and I almost always have a few self-imposed deadlines impending), then I will not check my email again until right before dinner. If it’s a super important project, I won’t check it again until before bedtime.

Whatever you do, DON’T have your email program sending and receiving at automatic intervals (like every 5 minutes) and notifying you of new messages. I can’t imagine how you would get anything done!

Sure there a couple businesses I can think of where answering emails is your business, and it’s the primary way that you make income. If you’re running a support center for web hosting customers, obviously you need to see new requests as they come in. But for most businesses, it’s just not necessary. If you check your email once or twice a day, then you will be replying to most people within 12-24 hours, and in my opinion that’s good enough.

So go ahead and shut your email off… just make sure you read the ones from ME first!

7 thoughts on “Shut Your Email Off

  1. Ben Shaffer

    Apart from ‘Take Action’ this is a great piece of advice. Is quite scary: I just checked my Outlook settings and realized that I am checking every 3 minutes!!!! Have extended it to 30 minutes – Can’t go cold turkey after all……

  2. Robert Shields

    Eric, you must be psychic 🙂

    What you described is exactly what I have been doing (note past tense).

    I have my email program set up to check every ten minutes and, yes you ‘ve guessed it, every ten minutes I would get a ‘ping’ to tell me new mail had arrived.

    Beeing a person with a curious nature, I can never resist checking to see what email is there and, of course, I always find something that needs an ‘urgent’ answer.

    I’m really glad I read your Blog.

    My thanks.


  3. Mohd Shukri

    Hi Eric,

    I totally agree with you. I can’t stick to my deadline mostly because I’m spending too much time (4-5 times even more a day) checking emails. The temptation of “email break” is just too great.

    I end up purchasing more products and spending most of the day downloading, setting up and experimenting with these products.

    I guess it’s time to implement your advice so I could get things done on time 🙂

  4. Ulf

    Hi Eric,
    thanks for that important reminder. I can only say AMEN to what you said.
    The temptation of answering emails is there and it takes a lot of quality time to get things done. I just can hope that everybody who reads this advice sticks to it.

    All the best

  5. Rob MacCurry

    Eric you are 100% correct. Focus is the key to success in any business. BTW, I am about to turn my email off and go through some cash generating reports!

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