Case Study: How An Overworked Executive Cut Her Time on Email from 8 Hours to 30 Minutes a Day

Meet Lisa.

How an overworked executive cut her time on email from 8 hours to 30 minutes a day.

Why Lisa Came to AEHow Lisa Used AELisa’s Results
Lisa was spending 8 hours a day on email and managing a family of four. She had no time for herself and often worked late nights. She maintained Inbox Zero—but she was chained to her inbox every day until 8 or 9pm.Lisa used our Escape Your Email course and personalized coaching to implement new email management strategies.Lisa decreased her daily time spent on email to 30 minutes.

Now she gets to cook and enjoy dinner, and she has time for reading, yoga, and time with her family.

Her exhaustion and stress are way down, and she feels a freedom and control she never had before.

Not enough hours in the day for this busy working mom

In 2012, Lisa and her husband had two teenage kids at home, and her husband was often traveling for work. Lisa was in charge of keeping track of four schedules, including three work schedules (her daughter was working) and two sports schedules, plus managing most of the responsibilities at home.

At work, Lisa is a senior executive at a Fortune 500 company, where she reports to the CEO and the board. Her work is critical to the company—one mistake on her annual report could mean million-dollar fines and jail time.

With her home and work responsibilities combined, Lisa was under a lot of pressure to keep all the parts moving. Sometimes she wished she could wave a magic wand and be in two places at once.

How do you manage time when there are so many inputs?

“There’s a lot of unhelpful information about productivity out there.”

That’s what lead Lisa in 2012 to look for information on productivity. But after a while, she got tired of seeing the same information on time management, email management, and what apps to use. Everyone works differently, she says, so it’s not about what app, pen, or notebook you use.

Eventually, Lisa came across Asian Efficiency. What she liked about us is that we take, “A completely different spin on productivity. It’s not just how to be more productive at work, but how to be productive in life. How to design the best life for yourself so that you’re living your best life.”

Asian Efficiency is about finding what’s right for you.

For Lisa, that looked like getting rid of the stress and exhaustion in her life, being a good wife to her husband, a good mom to her kids, and having time for things as simple as cooking dinner or going to yoga after work.

Successful at Inbox Zero, but chained to her inbox and feeling unproductive

One of the biggest areas of improvement for Lisa was email. But interestingly, she at first didn’t think it was a problem.

The cost of maintaining Inbox Zero was high

As Lisa says, “I thought I was managing email, because I did have Inbox Zero every day.”

The problem was that Lisa was in her inbox all day—to the tune of 6-8 hours a day. And while she was able to focus on work, that only lasted until she got an email notification. Then she’d leave her work to go take care of the email in her inbox, and it would take awhile to settle back into her work.

That toggling back and forth all day had a real cost: what we call a “switching cost.”

What if not responding to email immediately made her look bad?

At first, Lisa was afraid to disconnect from email for even an hour. What if not responding right away made her look bad?

When her CEO or any of the other executives email Lisa, they expect a response right away—or Lisa thought they did. But when one of our coaches posed the question, “Do you know for sure that they expect an immediate response?” Lisa wasn’t sure.

So she tried an experiment. She disconnected from email for one hour. “What’s the worst that could happen?” she thought.

It turns out the worst didn’t happen. In fact, Lisa was able to focus better for that hour—and no one was upset with her.

As Lisa continued to disconnect from email for 1-hour increments, she realized that that most of the time, her colleagues don’t expect an immediate response, and on the rare occasions they do, she knows ahead of time. Lisa had set expectations for herself that others didn’t have for her.

Those expectations were costing her her productivity.

What happened when Lisa didn’t check email for one hour

How Lisa got back 7.5 hours a day: Escape Your Email

From her 1-hour experiment, Lisa moved on to other strategies that we teach in our course Escape Your Email. Lisa learned new ways to process her email, organize the information in her emails, and manage her to-dos.

How Lisa spends only 30 minutes a day on email

In 2 weeks, Lisa went from spending 8 hours a day on email to 30 minutes a day. And even better? “Nobody said a word to me—has ever said a word to me—about not responding to their email in less than an hour or immediately.”

It was her own expectations (not the true expectations of the job) that were imprisoning her in her inbox for 8 hours a day. Now that she’s free of those expectations and has a system for managing email in only 30 minutes a day, Lisa feels two things:

  1. Freedom. “I escaped my email. It was fantastic.” Now Lisa goes home on time every day and has time to cook and enjoy dinner, spend time with her family, and do things for herself, like yoga.
  2. Control. Instead of Lisa’s schedule being dictated by emails people send her, she controls her day.
Lisa’s inbox at the end of most days.

And even though email communication is a big part of Lisa’s job, she’s been able to keep this up for two years now. Between her work and personal inboxes combined, she only spends 30-40 minutes a day on email.

Lisa spent a long time (years) spending 8 hours/day on email but she was able to bring this down to 30 mins/day for two years now. How much time are you spending a day?

Is Escape Your Email Right For You?

Lisa recommends that 3 types of people consider taking the course:

  1. People who are lacking processes for managing their email.
  2. People who have Inbox Zero, but are spending more time on it than they’d like to be.
  3. People who look in their inbox and feel overwhelmed by the amount of email there.

Ultimately, Asian Efficiency is about freeing up your time to focus on the important things in your life. After all, what’s the point of having an empty inbox if you’re spending 8 hours a day in it?

We were able to help Lisa because we’ve helped 13,000 other people improve their productivity in countless ways. Our team of experts is able to tackle problems from multiple angles, and our solutions are tailor-made for the modern worker (like many in the corporate world, Lisa is forced to use Outlook and a PC—you don’t need a Mac to be a productivity superhero).

What could you do with hours’ more time a day?

Imagine getting up to 7.5 hours of your day back.

If that seems like a lot—what about getting just 2 hours of your day back? What would you do with that time?

Most people accept hours of email a day as a fact of life, but like Lisa, you have another choice: Escape Your Email. We only open enrollment a few times a year, but to be added to the waitlist, simply enter your email here: Escape Your Email Waitlist.

See Lisa’s Whole Story Here