Email is one of the most powerful tools we have. With this 50 year old technology, we can share everything from quick one-liners to complex presentations.
At Superhuman, we are building the fastest email experience in the world. Our customers — most of whom are founders, CEOs, and leaders — get through their inbox twice as fast as before, and many see Inbox Zero for the first time in years. Since the start of 2018, they have saved over 900 years of human productivity.
How do they do this?
1. Write for mobile
We send three times as many emails from our laptops than our phones. However, we open our email app eight times more on our phones than on our laptops.
In fact, we check our phones 58 times a day — and over half of these happen during work hours.
What does this mean for you?
As a sender: Keep your email as short as possible. We highly recommend the three sentence rule.
As a reader: Be mindful of how much you check your phone. We recommend triaging your inbox twice a day — once in the morning and again in the evening. If you use Superhuman, use “Remind me on desktop” to save hard messages for when you have a keyboard.
2. Aim for 9 am
The most common time for Inbox Zero is 9 am — and it happens most often on our phones.
As a sender: If your email is critical, you can use “Send Later” in Superhuman to schedule it for just before 9 am. That’s when we are most likely to be online and reading email.
As a reader: When you triage on your phone, attempt to achieve a state of flow. Flow is the state of mind when we are focused, enjoying, and fully immersed in an activity. In practice, this means always knowing what to do next — and always knowing how to do it.
To achieve flow with mobile email, we recommend this:
- Mark Done (i.e. archive) if no response needed.
- Reply if you can in under 1 minute.
- Triage (e.g. set a reminder, or star the email) if the message needs more time.
- Repeat until you hit Inbox Zero!
If you use Superhuman on mobile, you can go even faster with custom actions. For example, if you always star messages or move them to folders, you can create swipes and taps to do these in one motion.
3. Do the hard stuff at 10 am
On our laptops, we hit Inbox Zero most often at 10 am.
As a sender: Nobody wants to read a wall of text with links and asks on their phone. So if you are up late at night penning a tome, use “Send Later” to send it at 10 am. Your recipient will most likely be on their laptop and engaged with their inbox.
As a reader: You rapidly triaged your inbox at 9am on your phone. Intentionally book time on your calendar at 10 am to tackle harder messages. If you snooze your emails, have them come back at 10 am so you are ready to work on them. If you use Superhuman, set the default reminder to 10 am!
4. Invest extra effort on Tuesday
Our weekly email activity is an arc: we ramp on Monday, hit full speed on Tuesday, and slow down towards the weekend.
We hit peak email productivity on Tuesday:
On Tuesday, we not only send the most email — we also achieve Inbox Zero the most.
As a sender: If you send emails later in the week, expect a response by next Tuesday. If you don’t want to remember to follow up, you can use Superhuman to remind you if you don’t get a reply.
As a reader: We recommend making a particular effort to hit Inbox Zero on Tuesday. You can digest important notes, unblock your colleagues, and help everybody around you make progress.
5. Be aware of seasonal shifts
Our yearly email activity is also an arc. However, unlike the work week, the month with the most email is very different to the month with the most Inbox Zero.
We send 30% more email in January and February, but we are 20% more likely to hit Inbox Zero in October:
As a sender: Do not send your most important emails in the slumber of summer or the doldrums of December. You may stand out from the crowd, but your readers are likely to be behind on their email.
As a reader: In the first half of this year — particularly in March, May, and June — ask yourself whether you are responding to colleagues and customers fast enough. And if the holidays backlogged your inbox, just let us know. We will be happy to help!
6. Hit Inbox Zero on Tuesday October 6th
In 2020, the most likely day to hit Inbox Zero will be Tuesday October 6th. So, we are officially designating Tuesday October 6th as “Inbox Zero Day”!
If you’re interested in hitting Inbox Zero this year, drop us a note. In 9 months, we will reach out and offer everything from kicking off a mass archive, through optimizing your workflow, to sharing the latest features you’re not yet using.
Bonus Strategy: Split Inbox
If you use Superhuman, try organizing your email with Split Inbox. You can focus on important messages, experience fewer context switches, and hit Inbox Zero even faster. It’s like a digital assistant that organizes your email before your day even starts.
These are the most popular splits:
The most popular split is “calendar”. To create this split, search for “filename:ics” and hit Cmd+K → split. Your calendar notifications will now be in their own separate space.
The second most popular split is Google Docs. To create this split, find a Google Docs email and hit Cmd+K → split. Now you can clear all your document mentions and notifications together.
The third most popular split is for tasks. Some people use stars (i.e. split on the search “is:starred”) and some use labels (e.g. a split on the search “label:to-do”). You can use this split as a place for emails that require real work.
In the long tail, we see key workplace tools like JIRA, GitHub, Asana, and Intercom. Create and use splits like these to process notifications together, ensure you never miss notifications, and — ultimately — streamline your day!