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I'm doing a 30 day challenge where I don't send any email after 9 p.m. I discovered that around 8 p.m., I hunker down and really crunch on finishing the emails that I have to send.

I think that setting a hard deadline means that I'm more productive instead of alternating between surfing and email. And when 9 p.m. rolls around, I can relax and enjoy a movie or a book without worrying about email.
Last month (June 2012), my 30 day challenge was to try to eat mindfully (eat more slowly, don't eat while distracted by TV or web browsing, chew more, stop eating when I'm full, etc.). It turns out th...
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I absolutely agree! I use Astrid tasks and set a deadline for tasks. That way I fill my time well with tasks that are more urgent and spend less time on not so important tasks. It also keeps me focused. I think most people would agree that deadlines are good motivators.
When asked why he took off the entire month of August while on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Brandeis is supposed to have said that he could get more work done in 11 months than he could get done in 12 months.  Focusing your energy rather than spreading it probably is more productive.
It is a great idea.  I started a similar rule.  I don't check email in the morning until I start work.  For some it might sound trivial but I was constantly checking it first thing and would begin to reply right away.  I found my whole morning routine worked around pre-work work.  My new habit means I spend needed time on myself and my family before I focus on the 'ole inbox. 
I like this idea, thanks! Going to try this out tomorrow
I want to read that novel.  bad or otherwise.
Were those work emails or just emails in general?

During my time at Google I found myself on the computer close to 18 he's with little to no sleep. Since then I've stopped work once I leave the office (an 8 to 9 hr day). Any compute activity was purely for entertainment. If I can't get it down within the work day then it wasn't important enough and could wait until the next day. This allowed me to truly focus on getting thing done within the work day.
I don't understand why you Googlers have so many damn emails. Why don't you pick up the phone and talk to each other like they do at IBM?
Why make one phone call when you can have 10+ conversation within the same time.
Greg S
Sending emails is productive?
I make Wednesday evening from 6pm no Tec night no internet tv phones all switched off and no work.
Go a walk read a book go see friends the list go on but no Tec.
A great way relax in the middle of the week
I've been trying to get more productive myself. I turned off all notifications on my phone and only try to check my email a few times per day during normal business hours. Helps me get my work done and less distractions. Also just started using a desktop and mobile app called rescue time that shows me how productive I really am.
I should really try something like this. Timezones make it difficult for me though as many people I work with won't work to the same principle and often require responses really quickly.

Might be worth mentioning to them.
We live in a world in which we become more and more connected everyday. This leads to us checking various phones/tablets/computers on a constant basis. If we are out and a phone bleeps to receive a message then everybody within earshot seem to check their own phone within two minutes even though they haven't bleeped/vibrated.

+Matt Cutts, yours is a good idea. Technology has helped to make our lives easier and made us more productive, but we all need to remember to keep our work/life balance in proportion.

I've found that deadlines matter. If you don't have a definitive stop point, the job never stops.
Depends on what you do for a living.
I think sending any e-mail after 6pm is a waste of productivity to be honest ;)
Thanks for sharing Matt, you are quite inspiring.
Great idea. Information overload and the constant stream of e-mails and news to digest means knowledge workers need to be more disciplined about web habits. Good luck.
Hi Matt,

A few years ago I was project manager on very large projects with thousands of people involved all around the globe. Emails were weighing me down so I decided to take drastic steps:

1: I let everybody know that I only read and respond to emails twice a day for one hour. If I don't respond it means that it isn't important enough for me and it gets archived.
2: If the email doesn't contain a clear and precise Call-To-Action in the header or the first sentence it is automatically classified as For-Information-Only.
3: My out of office message told everybody that I possibly can't read this message and that it got deleted. If it was important please re-send when I'm back (I added a day on the actual day I return).

This created a storm of complaints (especially from all the politicians out there that abuse email for all the wrong reasons) and got elevated to the top of the company. I defended the policy reasoning that my position demands action and not reaction and that a few years ago somebody in my position had a secretary that would do exactly what my policies enforce.

I got through with it and something very interesting happened: People adjusted to these policies in a matter of days and I managed to get back into actively steering my projects. All other PM picked this up very quickly.

Why not take your 9 pm rule a step further, create an email policy and communicate it with your network.

I think the 30 days challenge could be even more demanding with a max time per email and max words per email criteria included.
I have the same rule but my deadline is 5pm. My wife made the rule up.
+Sean Doherty Sean for me email is just one form of communication and it can be part of "getting the job done" but most of the time it's just noise. By limiting the use of email to 2 hours a day you are forced to prioritise what email you spend time on. By telling others what you expect to act upon you set a clear expectation what they have to do to get your time. It filters out all the noise like a secretary used to do. I find 2 hours a day way too much time if you consider that there's also meetings, video conferencing, telephone and other means of communication too fit into a working day.
This method also wouldn't work if you are a "foot-soldier" or "working-bee". This method only works if you have some form of power as manager where people expect you to set up rules and enforce them.
In the 3 years of being PM with this set of rules I did not miss an important email once by the way.
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