Current Role

After I sold CSS-Tricks, I get way less than half the email I used to. Relatively, it now feels absolutely trivial to manage my email. I don’t need any fancy techniques, organizing concepts, or special software to stay on top of things. I look at my email and just deal with it. I even get to keep my bad habit of reading it as it comes in with even less consequences.

But I just talked with a fella this weekend who is experiencing the exact opposite. He’s 3 months in to a new job. From a company of 100 to a company of 5,000. His inbox is completely loaded at all times. He even literally called it “spam”, even though it’s internal emails from real people from his own company. I have not experienced this personally, but it seems completely awful. Now you don’t have “email from my own company” as a metric for “important or not”. You’re back to needing to sift through the noise for the signal, and you have to because you’ll be bad at your job if you don’t. Ooof.

It’s amazing how big life changes effect your email life. I guess that’s no big surprise but it’s still interesting to feel it first-hand.

built for mars: A UX case study on Gmail

I enjoyed clicking through the slides that Peter Ramsey put together. All good points, I think. It’s mostly about the onboarding process, which has some pretty hilariously bad issues, like these FIVE DEEP popups:

lol

There is a good bit about how Google warms you up with agreeing to an easy-to-agree to feature before hitting you with the “give Google data” question where you’re likely to agree to it because you’ve been primed to.

I might argue that the actual day-to-day usage of the product is actually pretty good and doesn’t suffer this same level of messiness. So much so, that every time I try to switch away, Gmail somehow has such gravity it pulls me back. And its not usually about features, it’s usually about accomplishing some task. I was on Shortwave for quite a while. It’s good! But Gmail eventually got me back because of the odd task here and there I just couldn’t get done in Shortwave.

Talk about having range

Tucked away in a listicle from Clo S. titled How to Make your Email Inbox Calmer:

We outsource to inboxes the storage of memories, to-dos, information streams to stay in touch with our favourite topics, and more. Your inbox is your own space on the Internet, private by default, with a key – your email address – that lets you access the rest of your Internet identity and spaces: social media, medical platforms, forums, state institutions, entertainment with your own playlists and tailored algorithmic suggestions, amongst others. You may use it both to pay your taxes and to log in to an intimate anon account on a kink-specific Mastodon server. Talk about having range.

The actual tips in there are pretty good too. They have a certain vagueness that is required when attempting to deliver advice on something like email where everyone uses it so differently.

Do you use a combined inbox app?

I gotta ask around about this more. For a long time I managed a bunch of very separate email addresses. For example, my personal email at chriscoyier@gmail.com, a general CSS-Tricks email at team@css-tricks.com, and my CodePen-specific email chris@codepen.io. They all happened to be Google-based, so that made it easier-ish. The mobile Gmail app was happy to let me look at a combined inbox, but apparently, there is no desktop version of that? Isn’t that weird?

I’m curious if people like/prefer combined inboxes (however they “host” their email), or prefer looking at inboxes separately. One challenge surely is making sure that when you send email it goes out from the proper account. That seems manageable enough if a bit error-prone.

Jeff Su’s “How to Write Better Emails at Work”

I was kinda preparing to roll my eyes at this, but it’s pretty good!

What I like are the actual examples, even if they are made generic. Definitely prefer seeing good/bad examples rather than just stating a tip without backing it up with an example.

This is a good line:

Therein lies the beauty of a well crafted email. Not only does it help you, the sender, come across as more capable by showcasing strong communication skills, but it also saves the read so much of their time by only surfacing information relevant to them.

These are the tips, but watch the video for the context and examples:

  1. Have a “Call to Action” in the subject line (and potentially estimate the time to do it)
  2. Use only one email thread per topic (for context)
  3. Tell people who you are adding/removing from a thread and why
  4. Start with the main point. Even if it needs context, do it below
  5. Summarize in the reply
  6. Hyperlink when possible (gotta love actual linked text vs barfed out entire URLs)

It ends with some kinda cliche all-time-classics like not reply-all-ing on accident (by changing some default settings).

An interesting thing about all this: it’s all about sending email. I like that in one sense. You should be good at sending emails. That’s a good place to be when you’re honing those skills. But in general, I find most people’s actual problem with email is on the receiving side. They get too much, it’s unorganized and overwhelming, they miss important things, anxiety prevents useful replies, etc.

Getting your receiving house in order alone will help your sending as you’ll have more time to focus on it.