Checking email

Stop Checking Your Email

Today I talked to one of my writer/business friends who was telling me about how she feels like she’s in a groove with her writing routine for the first time in a long time.

She gets up every day at 5 a.m., gets to her writing desk and computer by 5:30 and writes until 8:30. Then she takes a break for breakfast and a long walk before returning to her computer and digging in on business/work tasks.

She was SO happy.

I asked her what she was doing differently; what was she doing before she got into this groove that has changed?

She said that right before settling into this routine, she was getting up closer to 6 a.m., and she would check her email first thing when she got to her computer. Then she would be off into the tedium of her work day, without getting any writing done.

She also did some math. She wants to have a draft of her manuscript done by July 1, and has an estimate of about how long it needs to be. She subtracted the number of words she currently has from that estimate to determine how many words left she has to write. Then she divided that by the number of days she plans to write between now and July 1—this gives her a daily word count to meet her July 1 goal.

I asked her how many words per day she needs to write.

Around 350, she said.


And, the best part, she usually writes more than that, closer to 700-1,000 words per day.

I was SO excited for her, because she’s created momentum, continuing to be motivated by her own progress. She’s even keeping track of her word count progress in a spreadsheet—which is huge, because she can actually SEE the progress she’s making.

I told her that she basically just described everything I do with my clients in the first two months that we work together. First, we talk about the WHY behind the book they are writing. Then we set GOALS (the July 1 deadline, the daily word count), then we create a SCHEDULE to support executing on the goals.

But there is an essential key here, and I wonder if you caught it. There is one small thing that she did to fuel this progress:

She stopped checking her email.

Not altogether, of course. But she stopped checking it first thing.

Now, we didn’t talk about this, but I’m guessing there is a secondary, more subtle benefit to this change: It’s probably easier to get up earlier, because the energy of her mornings has shifted from utter dread (HAVE to check email) to sweet anticipation (GET to make progress on manuscript).

So what can we learn from this?

Most of the time the problem is all in our head: We make the problem bigger than it actually is by telling ourselves we have to get up earlier/we have to write every day/we have to have an uninterrupted eight hours, etc. [Add your excuse here.]

When, really, all that needs to happen is one small change.

  • You stop checking your email.
  • You figure out exactly how many words you need to write a day to meet your goal.
  • You write 350 words a day.
  • You stop telling yourself lies about what needs to happen.

Okay, so that last one isn’t exactly a small change, but I think you see what I mean.

Tell me: what is one small change that you can make TODAY that will have a huge impact on your writing or creative process? Let me know in the comments below!

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