September 22, 2021

When it DOES Make Sense to Check Email First Thing in the Morning …

Three weeks ago, I posted on LinkedIn’s “Claims Management” discussion group a recent “Claims Coach” blog on why adjusters should not start their work days by checking e-mail. Many insightful responses followed in that discussion thread.

Check email

Many of the participants agreed. Some, however, did not.  Two particularly strong arguments emerged. 

First, when you know or have reason to know that many of your first notices of loss via e-mail.  My friend and claims colleague Chantal Roberts of Advanced Risk Management in Arkansas made this point. 

Second, where the boss or management has instructed adjusters to check their e-mail first thing in the morning.

I must agree that in such situations, it does make sense to begin one’s day as a claims professional by checking e-mail. In either case, customer service or job survival trumps any productivity consideration.

It does no good being productive if, by doing so, you sacrifice customer responsiveness by not getting to new case assignments as quickly as possible. This is particularly true if new claim assignments are time-sensitive.

Further, it makes no sense to strive for an abstract standard of productivity if, due to noncompliance with boss expectations, you lose your job or are downgraded in performance.

The overarching point is to be intentional about the pacing and sequencing of checking e-mail.

It has been said that “E-mail is the perfect system for other people to deliver their priorities to your attention.” 

I heartily agree 100%. However, my general advice must realistically be tempered by other considerations at times. Those considerations include client expectations and upper management/boss expectations.

Certainly, responsiveness and prompt turnaround have to be mitigating considerations.

The point is to reach a happy medium between a reflexive Pavlovian response to every chime signaling arrival of a new e-mail or an icon popping up, notifying us of a new message versus shutting down altogether. Whether the magic interval is four times a day, checking e-mail on the hour, whatever, the point is to have a more intentional approach to e-mail to stay productive while simultaneously being prompt, customer-focused and responsive.

There is a happy medium, but that medium is often violated by virtue of an ingrained, Pavlovian, knee-jerk reaction to interrupt what we are doing in order to check e-mail. When the first act of the work day is to check e-mail, it can totally derail us from more important projects that need their focused attention.

A key skill is to differentiate the urgent from the important. Often, they are not the same thing. Email tends to coalesce around the urgent (or pseudo-urgent) in my view.

Every guideline has an exception … including this one!


  1. So the iconoclast can deal with maybe? Email is a tool but many people treat it like their only lifeline to the world. Like any other tool it can be over used and much time is wasted perusing through valueless emails.

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