When it comes to getting the information (such as news or articles to read) I need, I prefer emails. Not blogs, feeds, social media, or apps. I like email because it helps me manage my time better.
For one, I get thousands of emails each week. I can sort my inbox, save emails, or snooze them to read or action later. I use Spark as my email app. It can also schedule emails, set reminders, follow threads, and offer quick “one-word” replies. Something I really like with Spark.
Gmail, which I’ve used for a long time, does most of the same things. But it fails in one important area. Its desktop version doesn’t combine multiple accounts as it does with its mobile app.
I prefer to see everything in one centralized place.
The only way around it is to have one Gmail account forward emails to another, which I don’t want to do. I like to keep them separate and independent, but I still like to see and manage them inside Gmail.
Perhaps it’s just a compulsion or my ADHD. But dealing with multiple, scattered sources of information can be dizzying and distracting for me. Just as with combining multiple calendars and task management together, I think linearly and prefer one location for managing stuff.
(As a sidenote, Spark also integrates my calendar inside it.)
Now, why do I prefer emails?
I’m subscribed to about 80-100 email newsletters in my field (news, marketing, and digital marketing mostly). I used to be addicted to RSS feeds. Feedly was my favourite tool (and still is).
Feedly’s inexpensive paid version allows me to manage, prioritize, and save posts. I used to have over 8,000 feeds, but I’ve pared them down to about 1,000.
However, if I can subscribe to a blog by email, I’d choose that instead of subscribing to its RSS feed. Most newsletters to which I’m subscribed come from blogs or are eventually posted to them anyway. Much like what I do with my own blog. (This article was first written as an email, for example.)
Another sidenote, Feedly’s premium version has a newsletter-to-feed capability.
Now, Spark also has a “smart inbox,” which sorts and labels emails by categories, much like Gmail. So it categorizes and groups all my email newsletters together. I can easily select all emails within a certain category and bulk-snooze them. Very handy.
What about social media and other sources?
When it comes to getting information from social media, I prefer avoiding them.
To me, some networks — I won’t mention any names, but let’s just say one of them starts with a Face and ends with a book — can feel like one big doomscrolling-driven distraction.
Other than LinkedIn, which I like, I’d rather stick with email.
If I find something on social media that interests me, or anything on the Interweb that I want to read, I read it then and there. If I can’t, I use Pocket. The cool part is that Pocket sends me digests of my saves, so I can read them from within my email, too.
With my ADHD, I prefer to “listen” to my information. Reading long texts can become tedious and distracting. That’s why I prefer audiobooks and podcasts.
For online articles, I use a tool called Natural Readers, which offers a voice reader, a Chrome extension, and a document uploader. When I come across an article I want to read, I click on the extension and it reads it aloud to me.
Incidentally, both Feedly and Pocket show lighter versions of the content. No inline ads, overlapping layouts, oversized images, or popups. This prevents me from being distracted but also makes it easier for my voice reader.
When a page is filled with ads and odd stuff, a voice reader can parse it as one single piece of linear content. The result can sound like a bunch of Frankenstein-ish nonsense.
Finally, aside from Spark, Feedly, and Pocket, I’m also subscribed to several YouTube channels and get emails when someone posts a new video. That’s another reason I love email.
But one issue I had was managing a thousand subscriptions.
Sure, I can save individual videos to Pocket or YouTube playlists. But I’m subscribed to hundreds of channels. Some I don’t care about. Others I want to watch right away, without having to wade through the new subscription-notification minefield.
It’s no different than most social media.
Then I discovered Pocket Tube. It’s a video subscription management tool that allows me to group YouTube channels, filter groups, search within groups, and even switch them on and off. What I also like is that it can hide videos that I “already watched.”
One final recommendation.
I discovered a tool called ListenBox. It basically turns YouTube videos into an audio-only podcast. I prefer to watch videos, but sometimes I just want to listen to them in the background as I do other stuff, like working out or driving my car.
Hopefully, some of these suggestions are helpful.