On the most recent episode of The Thrive Global Podcast, Thrive Global founder and CEO Arianna Huffington sat down with television and film actor, venture capitalist, philanthropist, producer and—the role that matters most to him—father Ashton Kutcher. In a wide-ranging conversation, Huffington and Kutcher spoke about everything from family, social media and privacy to sleeping, time management and what it means to truly relax.
Kutcher previously told Thrive Global that he considers email to be “everyone else’s to-do list for you.” And when Huffington asked if he still feels that way, Kutcher said yes. And he has a straightforward strategy for keeping his inbox from overwhelming him.
“When I wake up…I spend the first hour of my work not looking at email, and actually just writing out what it is that I want to accomplish in a given day,” Kutcher said. “And then before I go through my emails, I’ll do all my outgoing, outbound stuff, which is what I want everyone else to do for me. And then I’ll go and get reactive to whatever’s going on.”
“That is such an amazing productivity hack,” Huffington said. “I want everybody to pay attention, because I know how inundated we all become with email.”
Kutcher said that before he adopted this strategy, he found himself spending two hours of his morning responding to email.
“It became an impossible hole to get out of,” he said. “Because then every response I had had three more responses. All I was doing was other people’s work all day long, and I never actually got to the things that I wanted to accomplish.”
Now, Kutcher said he makes it clear to people that if they email him, “You may not get a response from me.”
He’s also set clear email guidelines at his venture capital firm, Sound Ventures. When they bring a new company into their portfolio, they send a mailer to every founder that says, “Here are the team members. If you want X, go to this person. If you want Y, go to that person. If you want Z, go to this person,” he said. “If you go to me, the likelihood of my responding within 24 to 48 hours is very, very low, so go to these individuals who are responsible for these things. And it actually creates efficiency inside of our organization.”