Email Momentum

Hey maybe this is a bit obvious (but that has never stopped me from blogging it).

Maybe I’ve mentioned this before (same).

But if you just can’t seem to get going on your email, just get one answered. That’s it, only one. If you have to stop after that, fine, but I’ll bet ya more often that not that kicks off the momentum and you can knock out a whole bunch of them in a row after that first one goes out.

This happened to me with house chores the other day. I just couldn’t get started, but I just forced myself to empty the dishwasher and after that, before I knew it, I had the power drill out and was fixing a cabinet door.

9000 Unread Emails to Inbox Zero

There is no easy to find publish date on this site, but from the metadata it seems like it’s circa June 2014.

Pat Flynn talks about his struggle with email, starting with hundreds of unread emails, and creeping up to many thousands. He tried tooling, and it helped a little, but not enough. The answer, after years of doubt, was to hire an executive assistant. After the hiring, it took 3 weeks to get down to 0 unread emails.

His assistant, Jess, had a nice strategy. She focused on different types of emails, which was discovered by actually reading the email. A lot of it was spam, so that’s easy enough to trim down. Turns out only 5% of it needed to be dealt with. Still, a big job when 5% is 500 emails, so they did ultimately declare “email bankruptcy” (delete it all), and start fresh. I’d think they probably plucked out the very most important emails before doing that.

They talk about getting over a hurdle of trust to let someone else have that kind of access to your inbox. I get that. I’d probably never do it for my personal email, but a business inbox, sure. The other obvious hurdle though is cost. I’d bet most of us don’t have an income-to-email ratio that supports the idea of hiring someone just for this.

Fun quote from the show:

Email is just another way to organize other peoples adgendas.

The trouble with mailto email links and what to do instead

Some interesting thinking from Adam Silver and Amy Hupe. They see some some issues with mailto: links:

Firstly, mailto links make it hard to copy the address, for example if you want to share the email address with someone else.

Secondly, some users use more than one mail app, and the link just uses whichever has been setup as the default, without giving them the option to use the other.

And finally, many users don’t have an email application set up, which means the link can take them to a dead end or down a rabbit hole.

For that first one, personally, I find it easier to copy because browsers provide that right-click “copy email address” UI. But I can see how that isn’t know by all and not exactly mobile friendly. Two and three seem like edge cases. Not enough to give up on the links for.

But! Where they end up after a couple of iterations makes good sense:

  1. Show the email, so it’s obvious what the link does
  2. Offer to copy the email address, which is nice UX, and solves the edge cases.

“This email will be my last for a while.”

Oh no, Brian, whatever will I do without your aggressive marketing spam.

It’s funny though. While this is so obnoxious to me I’d never work with Brian or Awesome Pros (it tells me a lot about how they operate as people, and I don’t jive with it), I bet it works. I bet Brian could give a shit less if I’m annoyed by him or not, as this he probably drums up clients right and left by doing it. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be doing it.

RSS with “Reply via Email”

Jonnie Hallman decided to add a little link to the bottom of each RSS entry:

It’s just a mailto: link, so…

This seemed to strike a bit of a nerve…

I think the idea is pretty cool, particularly on a site without on-site comments.

If you have access to your own RSS template, this should be a fairly easy thing to add. On a WordPress site, you could always add a filter (or other ways). But I happen to use the Yoast SEO plugin, and this is a default feature:

Inbox zero and the search for the perfect email client

Just noting this 2018 article from Ars Technica.

I’ve still been on my kick that the email client you use doesn’t matter that much. It’s the 20% compared to the 80% representation your habits and technique for being good at email.

But there is some counter-evidence here. Like Jonathan Gitlin saying that Inbox (RIP) was anti-helpful in cleaning house:

… like all webmail interfaces (to me at least), isn’t nearly as conducive to a good bit of spring cleaning as an actual desktop application. Automatically bundling emails into groups—Promos, Updates, and so on—kept them out of my way, so in addition to never being read they never got deleted.

What I needed was a good email client, at least to bring my work account back into control. Apple’s has suffered from a general if nonspecific malaise for years, and so I canvassed my coworkers for suggestions. On OS X, Airmail 3 seemed to get the most recommendations, and that’s the one I went with. After it spent several hours downloading my messages, it was another day or so’s effort to sort, cull, and then mark-as-read roughly 3,400 unread emails. At the end of it, I felt a small measure of accomplishment.

In Jonathan’s case, the email client (and a day of hard labor) actually helped him get things back under control.

A lot of votes for Airmail here.

Straight to Spam


Love emails but hate people? Don’t want someone 🤡 at your party 🥳 but have to invite them 🤢 cause your mom 💁‍♀️ made you? Trust Straight 2 Spam to send your v important email 📧 straight to their spam 🗑

Some text you can auto-copy to put in an email so that it definitely gets caught by the spam filter. So you can say you emailed and not be lying.

I’ll just paste an image here.

Setting up a Gmail recruiter response template

Jules Forrest:

If you’re privileged enough to get recruiting emails, consider taking a small, nearly automated step towards better representation in tech design by setting up a template response in Gmail. In your template, include links to directories focused on highlighting accomplished but underrepresented design talent.

Great idea, Jules, I’ll absolutely do that.

Once I set up a LinkedIn account just for honeypotting recruiters. The whole point was for them to try to recruit me, and I tried to recruit them into using the CodePen Job Board to find candidates. It didn’t work that well but it had side-benefits like forcing me into having a nice little pitch deck to send to companies that were hiring.

But that was a self-serving play, Jules is actually trying to help people which is much better.


A BuzzFeed article from 2015 with a poll in it:

16% with over 1,000. I’d say 1,000 is a good cut-off line for uh yeah this is a problem. If you’re in the hundreds, that might be because you’re just back from vacation or you’ve neglected it for a little too long. But hope is not lost, you can probably knock through it fairly quickly if you focus on it.

Plus, you can make it into an opportunity. Focused time on whacking down a huge inbox means you’re also probably in the mood to be unsubscribing from things and changing notification settings so this situation is less likely to happen again at this scale.

Over 1,000 though, it might be an unreasonable ask of your time. You’re probably in a situation where you want to scan scan scan, find anything that looks obviously super important and save, then declare bankruptcy on the rest and archive.