Switching

Within a few days of each other, I got these email notifications of acquaintances praising different email clients.

Here’s Julie loving Edison (not sure if it’s Edison Mail or OnMail or what).

(Edison is so wild in that they are like: we read your email and sell the data, but, like, anonymously, and they spell it out in a way that somehow makes it seem like that’s OK. But of course, one tiny screwup and 🤮).

And then Luky, on liking Spark:

I’m just guessing here, as I haven’t spoken with either of them, that they like the email client switch because they felt a productivity boost. Like they have a better handle on email and it’s feeling less cumbersome in some way.

That always makes me think: is it really the email client? Or is it that switching clients just awoke a little spark in your email handling habits that has you taking care of business for a while, feeling good about that, and thanking the client instead of yourself.

I wonder about that because it happens to me. Any little switch-up in my normal email routine (new client or otherwise) can give me little bursts of productivity that leave me feeling good.

Does inbox cleanliness have anything to do with actual email productivity?

I’m tempted to say: yes, of course, absolutely.

But I’m not entirely sure.

My wife is a good example. I wouldn’t call her inbox a mess, but from the glimpses I get of it, there are an awful lot of unread emails in there. I don’t get the sense that she spends all that much time on inbox cleanliness. Yet, if I email her, I tend to get a response in like 3 minutes. She’s fast, and I’d call that a trait of email productivity.

I’d like to correct my own thinking on this, and not make sure peddle an idea that you have to have a super clean inbox in order to be good at email. I think I’ll be able to unearth more about this once I get into doing more interviews. If you have thoughts though, I’d love to hear them.

Is it possible to highly productive with email but have a messy inbox?

Email Design Accessibility: Why It Is Important to Improve It

Nataly Birch on Designmodo:

Not only do pandemic and legal enforcement bring this issue to the forefront. There are some other reasons why email design accessibility matters.

• Any kind of disability, even a temporary one, makes it hard to interact with email. Therefore, you won’t get a proper response on your strategy and campaign, to say nothing about driving traffic to the landing page.

• Almost 1.3 billion people worldwide live with some form of impairment. It is a colossal share of the market that you overlook.

• Inaccessibility in email design may lead to a disappointed, frustrated, or angry customer. For example, if you do not provide your images with ALTs, people whose email readers ditch all kinds of visuals by default won’t see your smart pictures, backgrounds, and accompanying material. Therefore, you will lose the click, the sale, and damage or ruin your relationships with the contact.

Email accessibility matters on all levels. It is increasingly vital for your business to thrive, to say nothing about its unintended benefits. Therefore, it should be taken into account each time you create a digital newsletter.

I think this idea has seemed into the global developer consciousness, but just to be clear: accessibility isn’t just about building digital things that work for blind people using screen readers, although that’s important. There are infinite variations of disabilities, temporary and permanent.

On this site that is vaguely about collecting ideas around email productivity, I’m curious both about email construction accessibility and how that effects people’s ability to deal with your one email effectively, but also about disabilities and how they effect people’s ability to be productive with email as a whole. I know almost nothing about this.

Zombie Email

Stephen is so right on all levels here.

If if it’s not your day off, but just late in the evening when your brain is already fried. Or during your lunch break when whatever the email is about you can’t do anything about it anyway. There is a strong chance an email might start chewing on your brains and steal away vital rest periods.

Not-Really-TODO

I email myself all the time. A half dozen times a week at least. Looking at my sent items box now, I did one this weekend when I ran across a neat hike I wanted to do from a Reddit post. I actually have a place I keep stuff like this (a special project in Things) but I didn’t feel like putting it there right then. I wanted to email my wife about it too, and who knows, maybe look into it a bit more first. That’s for future-self to deal with.

In that case, it’s sort of like my email is my TODO list, but it’s more like a “deal with this later” list. That’s distinctly different to me. My TODO list items are specific tasks with context. An email, to me, isn’t a TODO list, it’s a “deal with this soon” list.

Notice I had to look in my sent items box to find that email about the hike, not my inbox. That’s because (probably just hours later) I did what I wanted to do with it (read the article on a larger screen, emailed wife, put on my real TODO list of places I want to go in proper context).

Misdirection

I had one of those days last week where I had to go to war with my email. There were a lot in there and I wasn’t making good headway. It was a slog to get through and I don’t think I was doing my best work.

My general philosophy is that email shouldn’t be a slog. That if you manage it well, at worst, email is boring, and at best, it’s productive and fun. But never something that gets you down and feels like a waste of time. So this was a nice reminder in how that can feel.

The thing was: it wasn’t the email. That was misdirection. It was all the work I had to do in order to answer those emails. For example, editing an article that was super rough shape, so I could move it along in an editing schedule. That slog was about the sloppy article, not about the email. Fixing that slog is harder. It means saying no more to articles in that shape. It means adjusting our workflows to share that load. It means being more clear upfront about expectations. It’s people stuff, not so much email stuff.