Have you ever loved email? I have—but perhaps my experience is unique. Being born in the mid-eighties, I’m part of what is referred to as The Oregon Trail Generation. I was born into a relatively low-tech world and saw the iPhone arrive in my early 20s. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with technology and the internet in the late 90s, but social media wasn’t a concern in my day-to-day life.
I registered my first email account, and it was a beautiful thing. Every email I received was from a friend, family member, or somewhere fun. Dialing up the internet on my 14.4k modem was always something to look forward to. Those days are long since gone, and in the always-on instantly connected world, my love of email dwindled.
Instead of looking forward to seeing what might be there, I often feel like I’m opening a credit card statement to see how much I owe this month. Will I be able to pay off this email debt today? Am I overdue on any of these accounts? When we start talking about multiple email accounts, it all gets worse.
When we start talking about doing the debt reduction snowball strategy but for an email inbox, you know things have gone far beyond okay. About two months ago, I connected with the team over at Superhuman—and after giving their approach to managing email a shot, I do believe the game has finally changed.
A Universal Problem With Wonky Brain Challenges
Is it a to-do list, an electronic mailbox, or a unique identity used to access most parts of the internet? Perhaps it’s all three—and none? What I can tell you, is that whatever it is, it doesn’t work well for my brain. My brain seems to be running on overdrive—in this way, having ADHD can be both a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, I’m constantly curious, wondering about things, and considering answers. The thoughts running through my head are either working through problems, smashing ideas together, or creating solutions to things I’m thinking about.
On the other hand, it’s incredibly difficult to turn this “feature” off. Everyone has challenges with this at different levels, so perhaps it’s a familiar struggle. You might find that the only way to relax is to distract yourself or zone out with the twitch—it’s a way to check out without actually slowing down and letting your brain rest.
If anything, this is made even more difficult when there is a plaguing feeling of having forgotten something. Few things produce more anxiety for me than worrying about something I might be forgetting or a message I’ve forgotten to respond to.
For most people, whether you have ADHD or not, focusing on a single task is nearly impossible if you’re worried about a million other things.
There are a bunch of ways to remove distractions, like turning off notifications and deleting addictive apps, but there are limitations. If your job or work requires you to be on social media, it creates quite the conundrum.
In that way, it would be nearly impossible to not have (and manage) an email address in our modern world. Because of that, I’ve found that Superhuman is a great tool to help manage what might come across as a necessary evil. It works so well, that I decided to partner with them. No joke, I hit inbox zero, meaning, I had no emails in my inboxes at all, for the first time that I can remember. It has been years, and that’s why I’m writing about it here.
Things I’ve Found Helpful With Superhuman
- Superhuman is optimized to use hot keys, so you never have to touch your computer mouse.
- You can create artificial intelligence-driven rules to automatically split your inbox into different categories, so you always see the most important emails. (I use this to split out all calendar invitations)
- Remind me is one of my favorite features. I used to leave emails sitting as “unread” in my inbox if I didn’t know what to do about them yet. But if I accidentally clicked on the email and forgot to “mark as unread” it would disappear and likely be gone forever. With reminders, I can pick a specific date and time, typed in natural language, and it will come back and remind me then.
- With Attention Collective, our online community, I schedule loads of Zoom calls through email. Whenever I start typing a date, Superhuman automatically pulls up my calendar on the side and offers to create an event (with an automatic Zoom meeting link built right in) and takes care of everything.
- Finally, everyone that signs up for Superhuman gets a one-hour onboarding session to quickly learn all the hot keys and functionality. It’s a premium product, and this onboarding session helped me overcome the “false first step”—where you sign up for something, but then get overwhelmed and don’t use it. It was a huge benefit for me in getting started quickly.
There is one thing that might prevent some from trying it—it’s definitely on the high end of software when it comes to cost. Right now, it’s $30/month for the software, which is definitely pricey. For how efficient it is, I find that saves me more time and anxiety than any other solution I’ve found. There’s no perfect solution for everyone, so you’ll have to decide if the cost is worth the benefit for you personally.
Productivity At Large
Productivity doesn’t always mean working—to be more productive it means being focused on work, fully present in play, and truly relaxed during rest. To achieve that, you have to set up your life in a way that allows you to slow down, be where you are, and focus on doing whatever it is you need in a given moment.
Superhuman has helped me a lot—I can’t see myself using anything else from here.
If you’re interested in giving it a try, I have a unique referral link: superhuman.com/anthony — use it to sign up, and you’ll get to skip the waitlist and get started with superhuman right away. It is a premium email client with a premium price, but I’ve found it to be well worth the cost.