8 unusual strategies for taming your inbox

TBD Conference
3 min readOct 19, 2023
Source: Sankey

Newsletters have exploded in recent years thanks to services like Substack and Mailchimp. Many journalists, experts, and just interested parties can now build up successful readerships, communities and livings doing so. All this does mean it’s a more crowded space and it’s easy to suffer from not enough time to read them all.

Here are eight (hopefully!) not-so-obvious ways to still be informed and still keep as much time as possible for other things. Of course, you can just unsubscribe from the ones you don’t ready every week!

  1. Fully utilise the Substack app. Most people don’t know about the inbuilt text-to-speech reader which turns any newsletter into a podcast fast. The app also allows you to bookmark articles for later or just archive them —after all — you don’t have to read things instantly for them to be useful later. Changing your mindset about how you’ll use the Substack app (or others — see below) can help you
  2. One app to rule them all. If you don’t use Substack, use a service like Stoop or Matter to pull them all together for you. This makes scanning them and picking the right ones a breeze. Boomerang for Gmail is also a good way of stopping interruptions.
  3. Forget filing — use folders. Gmail is also helpful in either culling or sorting the newsletter glut. Use filters and folders to keep newsletters in one place so they don’t disturb your flow them they pop in at various times of the day. Set a reminder to check it once a day/week/month and you can catch up. Getting rid of the FOMO is half the battle with newsletter and infoglut.
  4. Create a space for your news. Similar to the above, this is an example I saw recently is a personal Slack news “dump” (what the user called it). She pulled in a ton of useful RSS feeds and just scanned them once a day. Here’s how to do that on Slack. Equally, you could use something like Flipboard too.
  5. Notifications. Turn them on for the ones you want, and off for the ones you do. This takes forever, but you’ll only be alerted by the ones you want to know when they drop. The rest can happen and you can use it to search if you’re doing research or interested in finding further information on a topic.
  6. Move the app. This move increases the likelihood of you engaging with any app and not just newsletter ones. Simply move the app you want to pay more attention to either in the dock at the bottom of the home screen or the first page. Statistically speaking, you are 40% more likely to interact with apps on this page. Bonus tip: Don’t forget you can have a folder on the dock that includes a lot of apps.
  7. Use AI to determine whether the newsletter is relevant for you. Create a prompt that helps evaluate the contents and give it a score out of ten. You could pump all the newsletters into ChatGPT and bring out the salient points.
  8. Use the rule of three. If you don’t read the newsletter three times in a row — make a conscious decision either to read it or unsubscribe. Twice may be an off period, three issues aren’t relevant and it’s likely it’s not for you.

What’s your top tip for keeping newsletters from becoming something you just delete? Leave a comment with your tip and we’ll pick the best one to win a prize…

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