The Inbox Deception

It is seductive. You get up in the morning, pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit down in front of your computer, and suddenly you are busy.

Modern communication technology

But what are you busy doing?

Working on your agenda, supporting your goals and objectives, or supporting those of other people?

It's so easy to confuse activity with accomplishment.

Your inbox is a fantastic productivity tool-for other people. It's a way for them to hand off their “to do list”… to you.

This is the reason you can work hard all day, and yet reach the closing bell and wonder, “Why do I feel as though I got nothing done?”.

This is The Inbox Deception.

How do you escape it? Simple. Follow my Three Rules of Email:

  1. Check email last each day.
  2. Do not check email first each day.
  3. Refer back to rule number one.


Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at

Grow Your Business

Grow Your Business

Proven teaching. Inspired approach. Free Course.

Click Here to Subscribe

  • Lol! Nicely done Ray! Got a good chuckle from that one. And it’s so true.

  • Ha. Inboxes can sometimes be the modern day equivalent of the…….”tag, you’re it” game.

    Especially when you have multiple email addresses. I’m trying to figure out a way to have only one email address or one central inbox point that could disperse email to a personal and business account.

    • I use Gmail to filter all my email accounts. That means I only need one login, and the Google spam filter is impressive.

  • William McPeck

    Unless we are mindful of its power, the inbox will certainly be our downful. What totally amazes me is receiving email from the person in the next cubicle.

  • I love your three rules, Ray. This is a great post—and something I am trying to practice.

  • Erik Fisher

    So, is this only about managing the receiving end of emails, or do you have ideas about sending as well?

    What about training others you work with on your preferred practices?

    • You’re spot on, Erik. It needs to be about both!

  • mike ritter

    Good advice for certain professionals. Some industries rely on knowledge now. But we use Twitter for that.

    The irony of the prominent ads to sign up for a copywriting guide newsletter right below. And we wonder how that email box fills up.

    • Good point – although the idea is not to get zero email, but to limit the way email controls your focus.

  • Rob

    Careful email is quickly becoming the modern day equivalent to a phone call to make the sale or gain the client you must answer the phone when it rings.

  • Guilty of spending too much time in my inbox but I don’t think it is possible to go the entire day without checking email but can cut it down to twice a day and see how that works.

  • Clint Pagan

    This is great advice Ray. It’s like a can of Pringles, once you pop, you can’t stop. Once that inbox opens, it is like a mission to check and respond to every last one. Thank you again for your insight!