7 Great Reasons Not to Check Email til Noon - Christine Kane

It’s the beginning of the month. All my readers have written their monthly goals on neon index cards. And I know that many are finding ways to be more creative and artful in their lives.

The energy of setting goals and being more creative is kind of the same energy. It’s about teaching yourself to live in a more proactive and self-directed state. To set your intent. To create and not just spectate. To take action toward a desired outcome. That’s pretty much the crux of what personal development is all about. And coincidentally, it’s also what creativity is all about. (Though creativity has an element of allowing that’s sadly missing from lots of the personal development verbiage out there.)

All of this is a life-long process, of course. But ultimately, you’ll get crystal clear in seeing how easily your own thoughts, actions and habits can throw you off course, and how important even the tiniest choices are.

You’ll notice that every item on my list of ways to be more creative is about being proactive or interactive. This is why I don’t like television much. For the most part, it’s just a way to sit back and go unconscious. No interaction. No pro-action. Just setting your mind’s dial to “Numb.”

And then there’s the computer. And email. Many people wake up and go right to their computer and check email. Their computers rule them. Email rules them. It is their precious. I, too, have fallen prey.

I see email as the great Reaction Distraction. Email ostensibly gives us something to do (and usually, it’s pretty unimportant in the scheme of things) so that we don’t have to make that choice ourselves. We get to just react. This is much easier than making our own decisions about our day, our priorities, or our creativity.

Email, with all its benefits and efficiency, can also be the number one mindless activity we do in the morning to get our adrenaline rushing and make us think we have to get going, get in with the pace of the world, jump in, and jump in now.

So, one of my intents this month is to not check email til noon each day.

Now, before you start pouncing on me in the comments about how I can’t possibly expect you to do this, look at the sentence just before this one! Notice how it says, “one of my intents.” I invite you to join me if you’d like. Right now I’m sharing this just to get you thinking. These are my observations and my reasons.

So, why would anyone be so very bombastic as to request that you delay the morning ritual of rushing to the computer to check email, blog comments, stats, other blogs, news, and weather? (pant pant pant)

Here are seven great reasons:

1. To be more self-directed and in control.

Checking email first thing is a little like saying to your subconscious or to the universe, “No thanks. I don’t want to determine what my day is going to be like today. I’d rather have the outside world set the mood, decide the to-dos, generate a little adrenaline, and let me know how it is out there from the mindset of the mass consciousness.”

Putting off checking email and beginning your morning in a more self-directed way allows you the space and time to determine how you want to think and feel throughout the day.

2. To set your own pace for the day.

For many people, checking email brings up huge anxiety. The unknown surprise jumping out at them. The drama that makes them start running. The oh-so urgent item the client must have and must have now.

Waiting until noon allows you to set your own pace and your own priorities for what will take up space in your schedule and in your head that day.

3. To have a SPAM-free morning.

Do you really want to wake up to Nazaire VanCleave who writes you emails with subject headings like, “Shame of sex? We can help!” (Yes, this is an actual email from today’s round-up.) Or would you rather invite your cat or your dog or your spouse or your child or your angels into your morning circle? (None of whom, I imagine, are shame of sex.)

4. To be different.

Being different is in. Thinking different is in.

Even though marketers and ads would have you think that being different is all about driving a VW Bug, having a Mac, cranking up your iPod Nano and shopping at Whole Foods, that’s not different. That’s just more stuff.

Be really different and step out of the mass-consciousness mind-set. Don’t check email when everyone else is rushing to check it. Let their days and their lives be dictated by outside stuff. You have more important things to do. Like morning pages and reading index cards and meditating.

5. To eliminate the endless scrolling through the constant stream of cutesy animal emails.

Now, I love animals. If you don’t know that, then you haven’t seen me perform live. I even have a song about rescuing animals called Four Legs Good Two Legs Bad. AND, I have seen more cute animals hugging other cute animals in emails than I probably ever need to see. Yes, some of them are uplifting, and you can file those (in fact, I know you have) and look at them at times when you need a smile. But there’s a point at which you have to say to yourself, “Yes, Mr. Winkle is, in fact, the cutest dog in the universe. But do I need to scroll through 87 pictures of him in one email?”

6. To Delay You’re Exposure to Bad Grammar.

Why don’t people care about they’re usage of the english language when their writing email’s and shouldn’t you wonder if the constant exposure to such careless destruction of this marvelous medium is effecting you even though the fact is that grammar is what your good at?

7. To Create Your Day.

Allow me to get a little Bleep-y here.

Your morning sets the tone of your day. If we’re all creative, (and we are!) then you have the chance to create each day by taking some time with yourself to do just that.

When you first wake up, you’re at your most vulnerable and open. The first part of your day builds the momentum and intent for the rest of it. What you feed your mind and your heart those first few minutes and hours can have an enormous impact on the unfolding of your day. Do you want the voices of the crazy world to do that for you?

I don’t.

If you’re skeptical, just try this for one or two days. Call it an experiment. See how you feel. And see if it doesn’t make a difference in your productivity, creativity and overall outlook.

Let me know how it goes!

  • The Appliance Pro

    I’ve always heard about not checking your email till noon but never done it.

    #7 is definitely a good reason..and one that agrees with my idea behind morning routines! That’s why I meditate and workout first thing, but I’ll add not checking my email to the list to keep my mind even more clear.

  • synchronization forums

    Thanks for this, it seems to me that brainwave entrainment is a fantastic technology, I’ve been looking into it for a while now and you’ve prompted me to go and try it.

  • Ipod Touch Chargers

    Easily some of the best writing online. Amazed to see this level of detail (for free or for a fee). Keep up the good work, and thank you for opening my eyes to a new thing.

  • Palmtreechick

    Hey Christine!

    So, if I were to take 5 minutes in the morning, that would mean I’d have to wake up five minutes earlier so I didn’t miss out on five minutes of my workout. Right?

  • christine

    Okay, a lot more comments came in than I could keep up with yesterday!

    Caren, I do know about that site, thanks to David Jackson…one of the people who leaves comments here a lot. Thanks for posting it though!

    PTC, Glad you’re listening to Holosync. I hope it helps. DEFINITELY take that 60 seconds in the morning. You can build up to 5 minutes. Just stop for that moment and say a prayer or do something to begin shifting the energy of driven-ness that compels you to tell yourself you’re not doing enough…

    Hey Steve! Thanks for the mention! I commented on your blog yesterday…

    Marty, Thanks for reading my blog each morning as part of your ritual… and you continue to read it even though I give you so much grief for your lack of cell phone prowess!

    ChickiePam, I wasn’t aware there were blogs about chickens! And I can totally see you writing one of those! Thanks for all of your thoughts. All I would say is go slow and reward yourself often! If you want to get regular updates on this, you’ll have to talk to Marty to see how she did it! (I didn’t know you could get an email notification. All I know about is RSS Feeds… read about them in my blog called “You Can Subscribe to this Blog.” Click on the word “Archives” in the side bar…you’ll see it listed.)

    Delmar, Yes, indeed…this did get lots of responses. But I’ll bet ALL of them were written after noon!

  • Delmar

    Is it my imagination, or did you get more email responses to how annoying so many emails are than to most of your blogs?Wait a minute…I just wrote an email about how I noticed that you got so many emails to your article on too many emails…oh my.

  • ChickiePam

    HI Christine,
    Marty invited me to read your blog. I find it quite interesting. It happens to be the second blog that I have ever read…the first being one on chickens! (Imagine that!)

    So organization is something that I could use in my life. I’m actually pretty organized by nature, but I’ve lately been in a space of “reacting” to everything as a result of a period of total chaos in my life. (You know me, so you know about the chaos and I’m sure you’ve seen the disorganization in action!) I’m ready to become more proactive, so your blog is very timely. Most days I take care of my youngest child’s chaffeur needs and my critters before I do email, and I”ve recently had days where I actually did not check it at all! And I’ve also decided that just because the phone rings does not mean that I must answer it! This is very major stuff!

    I’m working on taking time to schedule my day instead of getting out of bed at the last minute and jumping in on the run. It works better for me to set my intent at night just before I go to bed.

    At the beginning of the summer, I purchased a bistro set for my porch. I was enjoying my morning coffee there…until high blood pressure encouraged me to quit the coffee. (Sighing dramatically because I really like whole routine of perking the coffee, adding the cream and sugar and then drinking the coffee while sitting on the porch and looking out over my “hacienda”. Yes, I perk it. And why does coffee have to raise blood pressure anyway?!) So now that my blood pressure is under control, I’m considering using decaf and the routine of setting the pace for the day. I’ll have to read further about the neon index cards. They might just help, too.

    So do I get automatic updates, now? I’ll have to wait and see.

    Also, Rinnie heard your “Right Outta Nowhere” playing and ran into the room to see if I was cleaning. Wonder where that came from….No, I’m not guilty of playing loud music and singing and dancing while cleaning…nope, not me!

  • Marty

    christine, i agree with every one of your seven reasons.

    i have a reason to check my email before noon that trumps all those reasons. my email tells me if you have a new blog. reading your blogs is a special part of my early morning ritual – along with prayer and meditation and a little yoga!

    the trick is to use self-restraint and not read any new emails from friends when i’m checking for new christine kane blogs.

  • Steve Sherlock

    Christine, I found your blog today and wrote about it as part of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Blogosphere. You can read about it here:

    Keep up the good work!

  • Palmtreechick

    Thanks Christine.

    You don’t want to be near me if I haven’t worked out. 😉

    I’ll have to try that 60 second breather. It’s funny because I have such a routine in the morning. Every morning is the same…get up, go to the bathroom, weigh myself, put my workout clothes on, go downstairs and eat my fiber one, check my email, take my vitamins, brush my teeth and wash my face, put my heartrate monitor on and go to the gym. Predictably much?

    I have noticed that I’ve become more in touch with nature and am appreciating it more since I’ve started listening to Holosync.

    Maybe tomorrow I will wake up and relax for 60 seconds before getting out of bed.


  • Susie

    Don’t worry, the blog is coming very soon. And yes, you’ll be the first to know!
    I’m actually starting two blogs…one for myself and one for where I work and the clients we serve!

  • Caren

    Do you know this blog? http://www.moleskinerie.com Just read about it in the Utne Reader newsletter – every entry an homage to the moleskin notebook. The Utne Reader article said that notebooks were left randomly, and finders were instructed to fill in one page and post it to the blog via the flickr site, but it’s more than that! Although the flickr site is VERY cool to peruse http://tinyurl.com/mxg6y

  • christine

    Susie, As usual, thanks for your insights. (you’re ready to start that blog! i know it!)

    David, I’m aware that noon is a little extreme. Have you seen Julie Morgenstern’s book, Never Check Email in the Morning? The whole idea is to manage your work so that you’re not always in react mode. Morning Pages are a great way to begin the day. I still have to find me a Moleskin notebook!

    PTC, It sounds like you might benefit from just being a little kinder to you. Doing a workout can be like meditating. Sometimes it’s great. and sometimes not. But you gain so much just by showing up everyday. Maybe when you first get up, take 60 seconds and sit still and breathe just for a minute before checking email, and intend some self-love. THEN go workout or check email. Start small. It sounds like you’re being WAY too harsh. It’s amazing you get up and work out PERIOD!

  • Palmtreechick

    Yeah, I am sure I’d fail that attempt quite rapidly. Like you said, I get up and read my email at 6:15 while I’m eating my fiber one. Then I head to the gym to “start” my day.

    My workout, not my email, usually determines what my day will be like. A good workout = a good day. A bad workout = obsessing about how bad/insufficient my workout was.

    I’m sure not checking my email might make a difference in my day, but I don’t think I could do that yet. Baby steps. ha ha!

  • David Jackson

    Like most of the folks commenting here, my work entails email. The difficult part is that I work from home, so there is no outside office to separate me from the magnetic pull of the laptop. I have found I have the discipline to not let my work intrude first thing, though waiting until noon would be a little difficult. The remaining difficulty is turning the work off and getting back to reality. I can also ignore the voicemail waiting notice on my phones which makes Kathy a little crazy. I have started morning pages, and that discipline has separated the early part of the day for me, from the hustle. Now my only difficulty if finding time to read. I used to read first thing in the morning while waiting for The Princess to wake up. Thanks for the post.

  • Susie

    Email. Now that’s an addiction! As far as getting business and tasks and messages completed fast and easy (which is one aspect of email that I like), I also believe email is causing us to lose fine communication and personal skills. For the most part, we’re lazy as humans and it is so much easier to forward a “get to know you” survey or a “This is soooo cute!” email than it is to actually COMMUNICATE with someone (and don’t even get me started on cell phone text messaging!).

    Some “rules” I have established for myself that I thought I’d share: delete all chain-letters (I’ve deleted all of mine and none of the stupid superstitions have come true), never answer a cell phone at dinner and if you want to write someone then actually use a pen and paper! On average, I write friends and family members a postcard about once a week…I love using postcards and the people I’m reaching out to really enjoy receiving and reading the cards.

    P.S. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for reason number 6!!!

  • christine

    NapaJoeMac (is that like…you’re joseph, you live in napa valley and you have a macintosh? Or like, you’re Joseph, you like to take naps, and macaroni and cheese is your favorite food?) Anyway, thanks for the compliment on my bad writing. After I did that I got extra paranoid as I wrote the rest of the post!

    Hi Anne… Well, of COURSE your dog is the best dog. So’s mine. (And Mr. Winkle IS pretty freakin’ cute, no? I burst out laughing every time I look at that picture.) Your mornings sound perfect. And I don’t even mind you reading my blog first thing!

    Kathy… maybe you could do like Starbucker and put it off a half hour while you gain your composure and find your center so that the $^% that has hit the fan will at least stay there for a while. I really get the childish rebellion thing too about goal setting. As I’ve come further and further away from being bulimic, I go through the “You can’t give up coffee cuz I’m bulimic and you’re not allowed to restrict food from me!” voices…and those are old and no longer even true! Same goes for childish rebellion voices. For a while, it’s great to honor them. Then you have to ask yourself who’s driving this vehicle!?

  • Kathy

    email – the bain of my existence. working for IBM and supporting a very demanding client out of my house (when I’m not in their face) I don’t have the luxury of waiting until noon to check email but as one of your commenters said….I don’t need to stumble to the computer first thing to see what $^% has hit the fan overnight. Your post is reminding me to reclaim the early part of the day for me! Set my own tone for the day! Now about that goal setting and writing it down on cards…… I’m working on that but currently they’re all in my head. Since childhood my dad especially pushed that concept …. and since then the Air Force and IBM too…..and I’m still working through getting over the childish rebellion of avoiding doing it just to spite them all. However, I have matured enough now to know that the only person I am spiting is myself. Slowly I will emerge from the haze and remove those creativity blockers – reading and rereading your posts will help…..thanks again!! Who knows what is in store!!

  • anne

    Good morning Christine! (yep…not yet noon, and here I am reading your blog….tut).
    Actually, I am hugely protective of my mornings. I am definitely not the kind of person you will find at the office by 7am. Although, I really enjoy my job, who wants to be in a cube that early?!. And I never check my e-mail at home, ever. Not in the mornings, evenings, weekends or holidays – I use the computer enough during the weekday – there are a zillion other things to do with the rest of my time, including sometimes – nothing. We recently rescued a puppy (who is now 8 months old and the best dog ever. No really – the best), and I am discovering how fabulous it is to walk with her first thing in the morning. After the initial shock of making my body move that rapidly before breakfast, I have found incredible relaxation in taking her up a very rural road, through hills and farmland and looking out at the misty mountains and old farmyard barns, listening to nothing but birds and insects and the occasional rooster or cow. What a great way to start the day – and yet another reason to be grateful for our animals. Not sure it’s terribly creative, but simply letting in the beauty of our mountain mornings feels really good.

  • NapaJoeMac

    Nice work on the bad grammar section! You missed capitalizations, used effect instead of affect, bungled all of the there/their/they’re deals, had all sorts of messed up apostrophes, ended a sentence with a preposition, a huge run-on sentence. I chuckled mightily – thanks!

  • mary katherine

    oh goodie, i love my new name – thanks, rock star girlfriend!!! 😉

  • Starbucker

    I will let you know Christine – 30 minutes or bust!

  • Tom Vander Well

    I love all your reasons. But numbers 5 and 6 top my list. Of course, along with the cute animal emails, I can do without the chain e-mails containing urban legends about a black market for human organs removed from unsuspecting travelers or fear mongering petitions that you MUST send to EVERYONE you know RIGHT NOW!

  • christine

    Hello Repressed Librarian! (I’d rather call you Angela (that’s your name right?) since I love librarians and calling you repressed sounds a little morbid!) Thanks for writing. Really, the whole idea of this post was to get people to ponder delaying the habit of jumping right into emails. Even just a little bit. Even just giving you time to arrive at work and hold off so that you can settle in to your space…

    Hiya Starbucker. I’ll be interested to hear what happens if you do decide to delay checking email for even thirty minutes when you get to the office. Let me know! As far as blogs go…it’s all about the intent. Sometimes I think we shuffle through blogs out of nervousness and busy-ness, rather than with consciousness. That’s why bloggers insist that all blogs be short… cuz no one has an attention span anymore! I’ll leave that one up to you!

    sister mary katherine of the purple birkenstocks… very good for you and your rule. you’re also very lucky to start later in the day. i for one think everyone should have more mornings to themselves! (and thanks for including me in your morning routine!)

  • mary katherine

    You’ve given me another reason to rejoice in the fact that my workday normally begins at 1:00 pm. I admit that I do check my personal email account and read your blog as part of my morning routinue, but that’s fun stuff, no stress there. I have a strict no-work-email-before-I-actually-get-to-work rule. 99% of the time I follow that rule.

  • Starbucker

    Christine, I’m in the same boat as Repressed Librarian, so I too am at least going to wait until I get to the office – in fact, I’ll even go 30 minutes after our start time. Does reading blogs count? My wife and I loved “What the Bleep”, by the way – boy, did that make you think! I agree – It’s MY day, and MY intent, and it’s just good life advice to not let e-mail dictate it for you. As for the spam and cutesy stuff, I’ve already stopped even looking at it – it only wastes the half-second it takes to delete it. And don’t get me started on the grammar! Thanks Christine, and all the best.

  • Repressed Librarian

    Those are great reasons. If I were not to check e-mail until noon, I would get fired (as I work for an online university), but at least I can start waiting until I get to the office, rather than being one of those people who rolls out of bed and stumbles to the computer.