Regarding Email

Unibox for Mass-Deleting Emails

Recorded on May 19th, 2016

Grey told Myke on Episode 29 of Cortex about (yet) another new iOS email app he likes: Unibox. The twist with this app is that it arranges email by recent senders instead of by the last individual messages that arrived. It’s an actually new way to think about displaying and processing email:

(Screenshots stolen from their App Store listing)

screenshot of Unibox app

screenshot of Unibox app

I just tried it and I don’t know if I’d want to live in it over the stock Apple Mail mobile app. My brain just needs to know unambiguously how close it is to truly cleaning out the inbox. But, I can see that Unibox could be really handy for deleting a clump of old messages from a single sender (especially automated notifications or old newsletters that never got read in the first place). I don’t know of an app that makes that easier to do on iOS.

Keith Rarick’s “Inbox Zero for Life”

Recorded on May 3rd, 2016

I’m pretty sure I first ran across Keith Rarick’s Inbox Zero for Life closer to when it was first published in 2013. I’ve fallen so far off the wagon in the meantime that it feels new again. Yes, it’s another “inbox zero” method, but it’s ruthless and hardcore, and yet it doesn’t argue with the reality of more coming in than you can deal with. I fought every urge I had this afternoon and tried it at work and, amazingly, it worked.

I think this paragraph towards the end explains what makes it good:

Staring at a bold to-do-list inbox makes it all too easy to throw up your hands and close the browser. After all, even if you were to pick one of those emails and take care of it, it’d probably be replaced with 3 more, like a hydra, by the time you returned to your inbox. The ground is constantly shifting under you. On the other hand, your starred items folder only ever contains things that you put there. You can look at it, pick one thing to do, do that thing, and look again: there is now one fewer thing! You and you alone decide when to process incoming mail and star new messages.

The “Good Morning, RVA” Newsletter Is So Good

Recorded on March 10th, 2016

I have discovered an email list I look forward to getting every morning. This isn’t one where I see the subject line and think, “ugh, another too-long, hard-to-read-on-mobile email subscription that hides too much content behind hyperlinks so they can lure people to their website for clickthroughs”. The Good Morning, RVA newsletter from RVANews is the opposite of all that. I don’t know how long it’s been around. Probably years. But if someone had written about it like I’m doing for you now, and if I had read that then, I would have signed up long ago and had many happier mornings in the meantime.

First, the usefulness. They get out of their own way by linking not only to RVANews items, but often to other local and national news sources. It doesn’t matter where the content comes from. They just look for the good stuff and put it all in one place, and give you enough context to easily know whether you want to commit to the dreaded hyperlink tap. And they do it without taking forever to get through it all. It’s just the right length for something you get every day.

The end always includes a link to some longread that is well-chosen and usually irresistible and Instapaper-worthy, followed by a morning Instagram from a local Richmond person.

Every day, the whole message has a breath-of-fresh-air unstuffy tone. It is eerily, happily like a buddy who’s eager to tell you about what to watch for in town today. They’re not too cool for school and they don’t spare the exclamation points. This was their weather report yesterday:

Good morning, RVA! It’s 54 °F, and ALERT: Today we will experience highs in the 80s! If ever there was a time to wear a tank top or take your happy hour outside, that time is now. It is your duty.

^^^^^ THAT is the only kind of weather report I need. Talk about aligning with the values of your readers.

The one they sent out this past Tuesday opened with this head and subhead:

Good Morning, RVA: Oh it’s sprung
Not wearing socks today, I’ll tell you that much.

Who wouldn’t like to see that at the top of an email? Reading through the rest of it, it’s clear that it is written by a person, with a personality. If it’s not all done by the same human every morning, they’ve pulled off an amazing Borg-mind trick whereby their fun, approachable editorial voice is totally unified. Whenever I browse RVANews articles on the website, I get the feeling that they’ve nailed a consistent voice everywhere, not just in email.

Enough of reading me describing an email newsletter. Go sign up for it. I haven’t tried the “Good Evening, RVA” email yet, but it’s probably great, too. They do such a good job.

Today View in iOS Apple Mail App

Recorded on February 20th, 2016

I just discovered the “Today” inbox in Apple’s Mail app on iOS. If you use that instead of the regular “Inbox”, you see only the emails that have arrived today. Everything older falls away.

screenshot of mailboxes in Mail app

This is hugely calming, as I hardly ever keep up with my email. When I look at my inbox normally, I see thousands of unprocessed messages sitting in it, which makes me feel like there’s no point in chipping away at the pile. But with this “Today” option, there’s a new state of emptiness to “protect” every morning, even if it’s only imaginary. Seeing just a handful of new messages gives my lizard brain hope that it can manage those few. If I can get through those, then I go back over to Dispatch to deal with anything older. The pile is still available there, but at least I have a shot now of keeping up with what was added since midnight.

Go and sin no more!

screenshot of Today inbox in Mail app