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Americans spend way too much time on email, and it’s breaking our creative flow and making us less productive. In this episode, we talk about the reasons why this is, and how you can break the cycle and spend more time out of your inbox taking action on the things that really matter.

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Cheat Sheet

  • Why the corporate email culture is so unhealthy
  • The amazing results people have been getting from our inbox zero challenge
  • The real reasons people spend so much time in email (and how you change your mindset to escape your email)
  • How to create more time to spend doing work that actually adds value to your business
  • Why email often functions as a to-do list that other people can write on and how you can change this so you can be more intentional about your work
  • The unconscious (and unproductive) behavior patterns that people fall in to when it comes to email
  • How email breaks your flow and what you can do to stop your focus train from being derailed
  • Thanh’s personal email horror stories
  • How you can get people to communicate with you over email on your terms


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Asian Efficiency Team

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  1. You really do need to use a larger sample size for your email study. The # of emails I received per day peaked in 2003 and a close second came in 2014. Both times the bulk of email came from automated systems delivering system status reports, automated batch processing job status reports, plain old data analysis reports, and so on.

    Very few of these emails required me to take action unless it was letting me know a data import failed, a data export profess failed, a system went offline, or a file called to arrive from a customer or to be picked up by a customer.

    A small percentage of the email was from people. Usually something about troubleshooting a failed data processing job, a special request for data, scheduled downtime for a special software deployment of internally developed software, and the like. ‘ Turn in your time sheet!’ reminders from HR are pretty annoying, but I do get so busy that I forget to do it, like last week I signed mine a day late, I vote that I still get paid!

    Anyway, email is not that big of a problem in my health services industry anymore. It’s maybe 50 a day and I can process that in 15 minutes. 2 minutes per email is way too long, where did that number come from?

    I’m like delete, delete, archive, put into waiting for folder, delete, delete, put into reply folder to reply later, etc. It doesn’t take long at all!

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