Don’t start your day with email.


It’s Monday morning and I’m feeling stoked to get started on some design sketches. Sketches happen in little bursts during my upfront research on any project. But I try to refrain from sketching anything too specific until I have good data in my head.

Today is the day.

Exploratory user interviews. Done.
Benchmark usability test. Done.
Stakeholder interviews. Done. 
Competitive analysis. Done.
Hypothesis and value prop. Hatching.


Throughout my weekend, I was daydreaming about getting some ideas down. Monday is here. Coffee in hand, I pull up my chair and…

…I fall into my regular morning routine. I check my email, respond to anything easy, complete any tasks that take less than 15 minutes, and so on, and so on.

Now let me tell you, my email routine is pretty slick. When I first started working from home full time, I adopted the techniques from Time Management Fundamentals. (Not shilling for Lynda. I just happened to get a lot out of this one.) I’m not at inbox zero, but my inbox is a slim to-do list on any given day. Also, I love writing in general and especially put a lot of care into responding to my clients. I am by no means an email hater.

But what happened this morning? Oh, the usual. My overseas clients are half a workday ahead of me so I have invites to (more) stakeholder interviews, a laundry list of super minor design edits on a landing page design that’s been kicking around for several months. Nothing out of the ordinary. I started on the design edits, because they’d take 20 minutes, max. But the next thing you know I feel my inspiration fizzle.

This may have happened to me in the past without even noticing. It’s work. You do your dang job the best you can, even if it’s not your favorite part. (*cough* several months of minor tweaks to one page *cough*) But this morning I started with so much enthusiasm, that anything less was quite noticeable.

So here’s my advice to myself, and if you get anything out of it, to you too.


If you’re a morning person, if you’re a creative person, don’t start your day with email.

Open your email just make sure there are not fires to put out. And then if there are no real emergencies — close it. Better yet. Turn off all notifications for a couple hours.

The greatest value you provide on any creative project is your creative energy, your enthusiasm and ideas. They have Ted talks, design courses, energy drinks and books written about how to get to that point of creative inspiration.


When the muse hits you, destroy all obstacles on your path to a sketchbook. 

Keep with the creative flow until it’s done. And save your email for the time of day when your brain is all sweaty and tired from the creative thinking you just did.