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(DIGITAL) Stop Checking Your Email!


Why does email feel like a time suck? Because it is.

You may think you are serving your clients better by responding to their emails right away, but in reality, its making you less productive. Its a convenient distraction.

Email, instant messaging, texting, and social media are all amazing tools. Unfortunately, they are tools that never came with directions or a handbook about the most effective way to use them.
These communication tools were supposed to make us more efficient, but they have probably done a better job of making us less productive in radio sales.

Im giving you permission to stop obsessively checking your email, voicemail, and text messages. Youll produce higher quality work, manage your clients more effectively, and make more money.

Try this experiment, the 10-1-4 Email Rule.

Only check your business email at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (and limit yourself to checking personal email to just once a day).

Checking emails in batches will dramatically free up your time for accomplishing quality work by eliminating those constant, yet avoidable, email interruptions.

Why 10 a.m.?

By 10 a.m. everyone else in your time zone has already arrived at the office and sent their first wave of email for the day.

Quickly scan through this batch, responding to only those that require an immediate response. Save the rest for your 4 p.m. email check.

Why 1 p.m.?

People generally dash off a bunch of emails before heading out to lunch or during lunch if they eat at their desk.

It has also been three hours since your first email check, so this is a reasonable amount of time to satisfy those who arent trying to break their email addiction like you.

Why 4 p.m.?

If anyone sends you an email after 4 p.m., they generally wont expect a response by the end of the day, unless its related to a project deadline. It can wait for your next email check tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Use this time to answer all those less pressing emails you skipped over during your previous email checks.

There are some caveats.

The point of the 10-1-4 Email Rule is to prioritize your email communications by answering them in batches, giving you more time to do more productive work like research, prospecting, writing proposals, and creating sales presentations. A few guidelines:

1. Adjust the times that make more sense for your workflow, but still respond in batches. Shut off your email program when you arent using it, so you wont be tempted to check your email.

2. This rule easily applies to other forms of communications including texting, phone calls, instant messaging, voicemail, social networks and even colleagues, stopping by your cube or office.

3. You can use idle times like waiting for a meeting to start, standing in line, or a short break in between work tasks to scan your email, turning this idle time into productive time. But be quick!

4. Get in the habit of asking your clients about their communication preferences. What form of communication do they prefer? How often do they expect a communication from you? What do they consider an emergency that requires a communication? 

Dont think you can break your email addiction?

Well even major corporations like Microsoft, IBM, and Google who have unleashed this email monster upon us think you should!  Read on. (This article was written five years ago!)

Try the 10 -1-4 Email Rule for just one week and let me know how it goes. My email is below. Please know I probably wont respond to you right away as I have work to do!

What do you have to lose? You just might be more productive and generate more sales!

Stephen Warley is the founder of, a research and training firm dedicated to helping radio broadcasters use digital tools to generate more qualified sales leads. He is also the founded of in 2008. Email him at or connect with him on LinkedIn.

(4/8/2013 12:01:34 PM)
I agree that email is a beast. But getting the genie back in the bottle is even more of a beast.

For those of us on the sales side of the business, timing is everything and we all know buyers who send time-sensitive requests and avails off the clock. Having our emails linked to our Blackberry or smart phones make it more likely that we'll see sensitive communications close to the time of their arrival (depending on our alert settings. Personal emails get ignored until I'm in my personal zone.

I think the more practical way to deal with emails (or at least what's worked for me) is to be aware of what's populating the in-box and prioritize the responses. I agree that it's an insidious problem on the one hand, and on the other, it allows us to be more efficient if we prioritize our responses appropriately.

- Larry

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