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E-mail: The Biggest Time Waster

In my last Do What You Love Tip, I asked the question, “why is it that some people succeed while other don’t?”

Today, I want to go deeper and talk about a seemingly benign aspect of work that is probably sucking too much of your time and energy: e-mail.

E-mail has been a great boon… an invention that completely transformed our lives. But it’s also been a curse. It’s a double-edged sword that, when used improperly, can ruin all of your chances for success in making a living doing what you love.

One of the main reasons why people are not able to find the time they need to take to start their own website and business is because of lack of focus. When you’re juggling with too many things at once, you can’t properly concentrate.

I’ve explained previously that once you’re set up properly, running and building your business could take you about 3 hours a day. But that’s three hours of completely focused time!

So where does e-mail come into play?

It’s a big sucker of time and emotional energy.

Let’s say you check your e-mails first thing in the morning. Big mistake!

If you’re running a business, you’re inevitably going to find a *problem* in those e-mails.

Your webmaster is informing you that your site doesn’t work. One of your customers didn’t receive their products. One of your subscribers doesn’t like what you wrote and is letting you know. And so on and so forth.

These problems are going to take up a massive amount of your emotional energy and are going to stay with you for hours, if not days.

How can you then concentrate to work on writing your ebook? To build your opt-in page? To create your website? To send a newsletter to your mailing list? To find ways to drive traffic to your website?

You can do it, but you cannot do it properly.

There’s worse, because what I just explained just assumes that you just *read* your e-mails.

If you start answering them, then you’re going to get caught up in a web of time wasting, not being able to differentiate between what’s really important and what appears to be important (but is not).

As you answer your e-mails, you’re going to receive more, which in turn are going to require more of your attention. Is it going to end?

You probably check your e-mails several times a day.

Don’t do it.

If you’re a regular “civilian” who has no ambition of ever building their own business doing what you love, then sure, check your e-mail all day if you want.

But if you want to actually *accomplish* projects, you need to limit this activity.

Recently, I made an experiment. I went from checking my e-mails only once a day to checking them several times a day. I experience an immediate drop in productivity.

Now, I don’t even check my e-mails until about 1 or 2 p.m. I take maybe 45 minutes and sometimes much less to answer ALL of my e-mails, and then I don’t check them until the next day.

Oh, and I also don’t check my e-mails on the weekend! (Except for my “personal” account for friends only).

What I used to do was to check my e-mails several times a day, out of curiosity to see “what’s new”. But often I would neglect to answer.

Now, if a project requires back and forth, I’ll use Skype for instant messaging, but only when it’s absolutely necessary.

If you want to build a successful business, you need to be completely focused. If you just have 1 or 2 hours a day at your disposal, then make this time ultra productive. And e-mail is NOT a productive activity!

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.