The Cure for Inbox Overload

This is a short post about HEY. Starting with facebook and youtube…

A while ago I had a social media meltdown of sorts. I did the unthinkable: I deleted my instagram with 10,000 hard(ish) earned followers.

I was properly obsessing over insta. When I wasn’t planning activities just because they’d be good on the gram, I was scrolling endlessly. If I couldn’t sleep, I’d scroll insta. It is a catastrophic attention suck. So I deleted it.

I tried url blockers that limited facebook and youtube, but they’re too easy to turn off. That, and I reluctantly have to use facebook professionally. And youtube is the best source of useful information I know. But both are amazing at capturing and holding your attention for longer than you want them to. You have to fight it. So as soon as those blockers were temporarily lifted, they won that fight for attention literally every single time.

I discovered two perfect firefox plugins: facebook feed blocker, and distractify for youtube. I can access facebook and do all the work stuff I need, but there’s no feed. No feed means my attention remains where it’s meant to be: where I intended it to be.

I can visit youtube for specific videos. But there’s no "up next". No recommendations. No subscription bell. No stealing my attention.

These two plugins have, with zero hyperbole, transformed my day to day life.

The only thing left to fix is email. I just logged into my personal gmail. I have 7900+ unread emails in my inbox, literally not a single one of which is important. They represent 7900 attempts to pervert my limited, precious, attention.

Comically, I have 826 just from king of all spammers, LinkedIn.

I could select all and delete. But there will be more tomorrow. And frankly, why should I have to?! Why is it up to me to stop you hammering on my door?

I turned notifications off on my phone which helped stop the grabbiness of incoming emails, but much like the fabled inbox zero, it forces me to actively triage my inbox as a result, just to make sure I’m not missing anything important. And, frankly, I shouldn’t have to.

This is what HEY is about. Ending this bullshit.

I cannot overstate how good this product is. It’s perfect. (Also the marketing for it has been a masterclass to witness: link to thread). The level of thought that has gone into every feature is inspiring.

Features I love:

1 There are no notifications by default. Instead you specify who or what you want push from. This is my favourite feature.

2 I regularly have to trawl through emails for files. The Hey way they just surface by themselves.

3 Contacts with a history: under a contact is a list of every email sent and received. Holy shit, this is what I’ve been missing from my life. Whoever thought of this feature, I love you.

4 Screening. All first-time senders get screened. They can be directed to the imbox (for important), the feed (for newsletters etc), the paper trail (for receipts) or (presumably) a black hole ne’er to be seen again.

5 Privacy. No tracking. At all.

6 Note to self. Adding personal notes to emails in the emails thread. This will be WAY more useful than you’re currently thinking.

7 Sticky notes: annotated INBOX. Add a note that sits over an unopened email i.e. "Don’t forget to ###"

8 Reply later: create a stack of email to attend to later. Just like you would with physical mail. Soooo much better than marking as unread.

9 Set aside: emails you don’t need to reply to but want to reference later. aka this is important but I don’t want it in my face or buried.

10 The feed: all your newsletters opened in a scrollable feed. Nice.

There are other features but these are the game changers for me. Hey is better than I imagined it would be, and better than I could’ve come up with in a million life times.

I’ve been a fanboy of Basecamp, David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried for years, but this has exceeded my high expectations. I’ve spent far more than $130 on software that has given me far less. To everyone who worked on HEY, thank you for making the last piece of the puzzle.