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Experiment 20

Avoid inbox until afternoon

What does it involve?

Clearing emails at that start of the day can feel productive but it often squeezes our most important work into the end of the day.

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Why do it?

  • Reset people’s expectations of you being instantly available via email whenever it suits them, and shift things closer to your own terms.
  • Stop the feeling of reaching the end of the day without having begun any of the work that you are actually meant to be doing.
  • Reduce anxiety by letting go of the idea that you will always be able to respond to every email with a yes—you can’t always please everyone!

How does it work?

  1. Decide on a length of time at the start of the day that you would like to have to focus on your own projects and accomplish deep work.
  2. Let others know your new email schedule (using your email signature for example) and then be disciplined with yourself in sticking to it.
  3. When you do start your emails, prioritise which emails to spend time on and become comfortable with letting less important ones wait longer.


You may feel limited in your ability to run this experiment if your role demands being available throughout the day. In most cases there is still a certain extent to which you can delay emails, even if it’s just for the first 30 minutes of the day. The point is to push back a little within your means and shift communication closer to your terms. Website and app blockers can be helpful if you struggle not to peek at emails earlier in the day.