I am a big proponent of smartphones and keeping your office mobile so you can work when you are not at work. Being mobile, however, does not mean you need to be checking email at 6AM when you get up, or 10PM when you go to sleep.

As this article points out, checking your work email in the morning is never a two minute task. Something will require your attention and before you know it you are running late to work. You are also engaging your mind in work earlier then you need to.

Unless you need to see if a meeting was cancelled, there is no need to check your mail before you get to your office. If something needs a reply, it can happen when you get to the office.

Same thing at night, do not check your work email once you are home unless absolutely necessary. Replying to email after hours will only encourage the recipient to respond. Next thing you know, you just spent an hour of quality family time on something that could have been taken care of tomorrow. Worse, your brain is focused on work when it needs to relax.

Keep yourself sane by tuning out when you are at home.

(photo: ilmungo)


  1. I have to say that I disagree. Although it may be the fact that we are managing a new law firm and trying to get a solid client base (and the fact that we have no life). We find that checking the phone, e-mail, later in the evening to be a helpful method of ensuring that we are always on the right track, and they we are never rushing to get things done.

    Instead of pushing ourselves to get everything done in a 9-5 we find that answering a few e-mails or doing a little research before going to bed will make the next work day go that much easier.

    And checking the phone in the morning gives us an idea of what awaits when we get to the office (as long as you don’t get into the feel that an answer must be out before you get to work). If you are working at a firm where you may be assaulted with requests as soon as you arrive at work, it may be helpful to be aware of the potential problems before you get there.

    Then again, I’m not sure we are focused on staying sane at this point, so my points may be irrelevant.

  2. Sam Glover Sam Glover says:

    Sanity may be something we all gave up when we took the LSAT.

    But I think the point is that e-mail tends to lead us down a rabbit hole of 2-minute tasks, so it makes sense to relegate e-mail to the time of day you are least able to focus on a single task for a chunk of time.

    Instead of planning your morning based on what shows up in your inbox, plan it the night before (or, better, at the beginning of the week), and check your e-mail later in the morning, after you have already knocked out a couple of important tasks.

    Easier said than done, of course. I find it nearly impossible to avoid the internet, no matter what time of day.

  3. Avatar Randall Ryder says:

    @ Landon – if your practice grows out of checking phone messages and emails late at night, then maybe its the thing to do. But I also think you have to force yourself to tune out at some point, for sanity’s sake.

    @ Sam – you nailed it – focusing on what you have planned for the day will lead to more productivity as opposed to just reacting to whatever happens (although half of the day will still be spent doing that anyway).

  4. Avatar Larry Port says:

    More of this kind of content!

    To paraphrase the climactic scene in every bad technological nightmare movie: “We’ve spent so much energy asking *could* we do it, we never asked *should* we do it.”

    Even though I peddle an Internet app and work in the guts of software and datacenters for a living, I believe we’ve gone too far. Connected technologies have disrupted the rhythms of life, time with family, communication, mealtimes, and the way we interact face to face.

    There’s a time and a place to be connected. And it’s not 24-7.

  5. Avatar Larry Port says:

    BTW, for those interested in the topic of being responsibly connected, you may be interested in the following piece I wrote recently on our blog:

    How to Keep Social Media from Dominating Your Life

    A lot of these thoughts come from my own struggles to balance work, family, and connectivity.

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