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Zack and Mike go in-depth on some new workflows that the Asian Efficiency team has been developing regarding our most time-intensive task: email. Email often takes a huge chunk out of your day, and we’re here to fix that. Learn how you can ruthlessly process your inbox to move on with your tasks and increase your productivity.

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Cheat Sheet

  • A recap of the original AE email workflow and why it needed to be updated
  • Startling statistics about how much time people actually spend dealing with email and how you can escape your inbox
  • How to effectively use triggers to make sure you see emails at the right time
  • How you can achieve (and keep) inbox zero
  • One simple trick which can make your inbox processing MUCH simpler
  • Why you should always archive messages after you process them
  • The real reasons why you NEED a task manager when processing email
  • Criteria to use when trying to decide if you should send emails into the reference folder
  • When to delegate actions from emails you receive instead of doing the task yourself


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  1. Great stuff. I was trying to work with the folder system and found that I wanted to get my tasks in a place I could check them on my phone. with folders it’s complicated to check an “action” folder.

    I was working on a helpdesk management software and used it to create tickets for those actions. Not a perfect thing yet but works for now to remind me of things and to handle my tasks, specially when I have to send my actions to someone.

    I do use folders to archive, I usually find it that way faster than the search functionality because sometimes I don’t remember the from or the subject or the spelling for a keyword that would pull the file but I do know the general concept and the relative date (Before my email of xxx I got the email of xxx). So that works. Still if I can’t find it I use search but rarely does it work well for me in those cases.

  2. Hi Zach,

    I heard this podcast and I too believe that we need to spend less time in our inboxes. I work on 4 folders in Outlook – Inbox, Action, Waiting For and Archive. I use Asana for task management, and when I record the task in Asana, I keep the email in Outlook in the appropriate folder and just save the Outlook search term in Asana. For example, I receive an email, move it to Action folder using a keyboard shortcut, copy the subject line, create an Asana task with an action-based title and then add a search term like subject:”Service Recovery Risk” to the top of the task description. If I need to find the original email, I just copy the search term from Asana, paste it into the Search field in Outlook and voila, all related emails found.

    Tip 2 – Conversation view, more than just an annoyance. When I receive an email that relates to something in Action or Waiting For, it shows up right underneath the email in my Inbox. Very handy.

  3. Hi guys, an excellent podcast, although 90% of the others are very good, but this explained a lot. As with Ashley above, I use Inbox by Google, combined with Google keep ,Drive and Calendar. Email management is easy with 3 scheduled checking times per day and always inbox zero after the last check and before winding down for the evening. Everyone has their own system, but this lays it out very clearly. All I have to do now is convince colleagues and collaborators to listen to this podcast and adopt the methodology and then they might actually get around to dealing with emails effectively.!

  4. Have you guys seen google inbox? Inbox.google.com

    It does for me a lot of what you talked about without having a separate to do list.

    This allows me to:

    – file or “label” my emails to sort them.
    – delay messages to pop up when I need to deal with them (as a trigger)
    – add a message to the email if I want to remember what I needed to do with the email when I wanted, so no having to re read to figure out the plan I already made
    – delay to time or place, so when I am somewhere specific it will pop up.
    – add reminders separate to emails like links that I want to get to goo through later

    Either you need a gmail account or some form of domain manager that receives and sends through inbox.

    I couldn’t live without it. And when I am at zero (which is daily because I clear to neutral) I get a big sun pop up which is oddly satisfying.

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