Don’t Check Email First
I know I am guilty of checking my email first thing on a daily basis. And as I read this article from LifeHacker (thanks to the referral from 43folders), I realize that Gina is right. In the Covey Time-Management Matrix, work email is typically a QIII or QIV activity. I personally get some QI tasks in email, but by and large most email falls "below the line."
The idea of focusing on your most important task first seems like an excellent idea, though really most of my "important tasks" frequently take less than an hour. And also, what is "most important" often time-based. For example, when I get up in the morning, the thing that is most important on a school morning is to make sure my son gets breakfast and gets ready for school. On mornings where I have an early-morning meeting, particularly if I am running the meeting like I did this morning, that is the most important thing. And, ironically, I need to open up my email to run that meeting since there is some information that comes in via email overnight.
I am presuming, therefore, the most important thing should be done in your first unscheduled hour of the day.