My Goal is to Get Zero Emails

Good morning!

I don’t like email. I generally don’t like having email addresses, I don’t like receiving emails, I don’t like having to check and reply to emails.

An email in the inbox could mean anything from nothing to multiple conversations of coordination and followup between multiple people. And they just stack up.

The tone of emails is weird. Tone shifts from email to email from formal to casual, complete to off-hand. The power dynamics in emails (work emails in particular) are opaque. Everyone's received a one line email that you know is going to take you paragraphs and hours to respond to.

So I just don’t want to get emails. (One aside, late last year I did get an email from a middle school friend I hadn’t talked to in decades and it was one of the best parts of 2020. Brad gets a pass.)

I can’t control emails at work, other than to be structured in my own communications and how I process email. I’m always trying to figure out how to better manage work email.

But life email I feel like I’m getting a handle on. Over the past year, I've begun to shrink life email down to the size of a walnut so I can put it in my pocket, and I think I’m getting there.

Here’s how:

Hey

Gmail’s not cutting it. It’s got the different tabs now, but the list format still triggers compulsive reading, archiving and cleaning for me. Don’t like having tons of unread emails no matter the tab.

I’ve been trying out Hey (made by the Basecamp crew) and I recently made the splurge ($99/year, ech) to work it for a year.

Hey's been great! Email’s become more of a stop on my reading rounds rather than something I dread opening because it’s full of chores.

Emails aren't tasks or things to do in Hey, they're just content.

Stoop Inbox

I gotta get some newsletters, but email’s just not a good format to receive or read those. I use Stoop as an inbox just for newsletters. Ithas an app and it’s just become part of my app rounds like Twitter or a news app. Better than that, the stuff I don’t read can just pile up and be passively archived without me worrying about it.

Ruthlessness

By default, I look to unsubscribe to any email that comes in. I relish defeating the dark patterns that try to get you to stay subscribed. I treat well-meaning nonprofits the same as the biggest enterprise email list: if one email isn’t something I’m actively happy to see, I am OK never seeing their emails again. At first you feel like ‘well I’ve been interested in some of their stuff. This is a cool nonprofit or small business I want to support’ but trust me: shed the guilt. I’ve never missed out on an email.

What I’d Love to See

Decouple my calendar from my email

I don't want to think about my schedule while I'm processing emails. I'd love it if calendar apps got better for processing incoming invites and scheduling. The email address as the marker for who you're inviting to something will likely have to stay, but beyond that I don't want to think about my calendar in my email workflow, and I'd like a sane calendar workflow that does not involve my inbox. 

Improve my newsletter experience

I love me some Stoop Inbox, but newsletters still feel weird as a separate stop in my content rounds. Part of me still wants it part of something else. Hey has a cool feature called The Feed which treats emails as almost a social feed where missing things is OK and implied. But there's still a grey area for me with newsletters where they're not quite "important emails" but I do want to make sure I get to them. 

I'd actually love if Pocket gave me an email I could sign up for newsletters with and just pipe them in there. But I could also see moving my newsletter subscriptions over to Hey at some point with a new feature or two added. 

Work email is a whole 'nother beast that I have had to use different tactics to manage. I've cracked it less than personal email, so if you have any tips let me know!