It is fast, it is different, and it is not backwards compatible. It protects your private data. But what matters the most to me, it saves me a ton of time by providing several productivity-boosting solutions. Does your email save or waste your time? Or quite the opposite, it’s your alerting system? I am saying “bye” to the oldie but goodie email to say hey to Hey. Let me explHEYn.
Oldie but goodie? 📬
Email is one of the oldest services on the internet. It revolutionised communication. Initially, people (called users in computer jargon) were able to send messages to others only on the same computer. A bit later, in the mid-’70s, this functionality was extended to everyone who had a unique address – an email address. All of a sudden people were able to exchange ideas, and thoughts, and connect with one another in a relatively short time.
A few decades later, big companies started providing various services to “lay” people. The PC – personal computer – was making home to more and more people. Internet connectivity was cheaper and affordable, and email service was one of the most popular to be used. The original email service was excellent. People were looking forward to having a message from someone across the globe.
Nowadays, email service is a different beast. It is more like yet another instant messaging system. People want to see a reply immediately. Some services will help to track if and when people open and read specific messages. It became yet another marketing tool. The original purpose of the email has been rotten.
A new take on the old idea 💌
And this is precisely the reason why creators of the collaboration tool Bootcamp get interested in creating their own take on the email.
When I saw the message about why they wanted to create a new, fresh take on emails, I was excited. I was willing to pay for an email to be able to start fresh. To avoid being a part of the “free” product” that other companies offer today.
My anticipation and excitement were similar to when I was waiting for my Palm Pre to arrive ages ago. Finally, I was able to set up a new Hey email and start playing with it. After a few days, I bought the annual subscription.
Here are some of the main features that I believe are worth my money.
Screener – thanks but thanks 📥❌
It all starts before we start reading any message yet. The idea behind the screener is that we can decide who can send us a message. It helped me to unsubscribe to unwanted services. It helped me with my cognitive capacity. I don’t need to read emails over and over again to decide if I want them or not. I can decide once and forever. It is like setting your phone to ignore a phone call from unknown numbers. It is worth mentioning that the screener decision could be changed.
User experience – productivity booster 🆙
Then, we go to the central portion. It is called Imbox (it is not a typo). The idea behind it is that the Imbox has only messages that are important to me. They are from the people that matter to me the most and I want to hear from them immediately. The messages that I should focus on. I should have them in a place that is not the catch-all bucket for everything else. Again, it helps with cognitive capacity. So, how we can achieve a relatively small amount of messages in Imbox? The other parts of the Hey philosophy come in handy.
The feed – your never-ending wall of unimportant and not urgent reads 📰
When a new email comes to our screener, we not only can decide to allow the sender to send us messages in the future 👍 or to quietly reject it 👎. We can also choose when particular types of emails (based on the sender) shroud go. One of the options is the feed.
This is a sort of separate container that is dedicated to slow reading of unimportant stuff. Newsletters, marketing promotions, and loyalty program upgrades should go there. It is something that we don’t want to see straight away in our inboxes, but they can wait. If we miss them altogether, it’s not going to be the end of the world either.
The paper trail and attachments – all important but not urgent stuff 🧾
Another very similar concept is called the paper trail. The mechanism is the same. The first time we see an email from the supplier with an invoice, we should screen it as yes, with the option to go automatically to the extra drawer in our email systems. It should be there in handy when we need it. And it should not be hanging around with other messages that are important and maybe urgent. When it comes to attachments: it is just represented as another “wall”. Easy to find out, forward or download.
Relax, set aside or reply later 🛋
I am now in the stage where I sorted incoming emails to the feed, mainly newsletters, the paper trail, mostly invoices and things that matter the most – emails from real people. It goes to my Imbox, but I don’t need to act on them immediately. Only some of them will require some action.
For instance, I am trying to cancel part of my trips this year. It is important, so messages come to my Imbox. Some of them are actionable, I put them in “reply later” stack. Some of them eventually would go to the paper trail, but for now, I will put them on another stack called “set aside“. They are my references for various cases that I am dealing with now.
When I have dedicated email time, I open the “reply later” view and here the magic comes. I am in clear view where on the left I have all emails in a beautiful card-like view and on the right there is a corresponding “reply here” space. It is one context. I work through all emails that need my attention. I move things forward. It is pure gold from a productivity standpoint. It is such an easy idea, and I needed to implement many hacks to do it with other email systems. Now it is there by default.
It is your email system, you can amend, modify and add notes 🔖
It took us so long to invent it. In a classic email system, I can do a lot to reply to others, to add all the needed information. When it comes to searching for something within the email message, I need to remember what I am looking for. If I have tens of thousands of emails, it is mission impossible. I need to ask people to send me stuff again or spend hours trying to figure things out. Another scenario: I receive an email, and I know what it is all about. I leave it in the inbox because I want to do something later. A week passes, and I have no idea what I wanted to do. I need to spend time and read it again.
It’s fixed now. I just add a note to any email message as a reminder. The massage looks like another email sent to me. The notes are invisible to other people in the email thread. They are just for me. Another neat feature is sticky. They are visible from the email list view. I use them mainly to remind me what I need to do with that particular email or to highlight an action that I need to take based on what is in that email.
The next similar feature is called clips. I receive an email. There is plenty of information in it. However, often, it is just one sentence, one piece of information that matters the most. I can highlight it. A new action called “clip it” pops up. I click on it and voila. That sentence goes to a separate place where all clips are saved. I can go there any time and check why these messages were so important. What was the thing that I needed to remember? No more guessing, and searching forever.
I am in charge who can bother me 🔕
We all have been there. Upon installation time, every single application would ask to allow notifications. It is a constant battle to keep us busy and occupied with that app (BTW, I highly recommend checking this blog post: How to Configure Your iPhone to Work for You, Not Against You). The email system is not an instant notification system. We should check emails when we decided to. We should reply to emails when we decided it. People should not be offended if a reply comes days after the original message was sent. With a traditional email system, we have a choice of allowing notification for the entire system or switching it off.
Now, there are circumstances when we are in the middle of something important and urgent. Sometimes we want to know if someone replied and we may want to take immediate action. In a traditional email system, I would temporarily switch on the notification. Then every time I receive an email message, I would check my phone or watch to check if it is this message. It adds to anxiety and stress.
These times are over now, as I can set up personalised notifications. This is a game-changer for me. I finally can allow notifications for the whole app. And within the application, I can decide who can disturb me at any given time. I can change it per email address. I can allow it temporarily depending on what I am currently dealing with. And finally, I can switch it off entirely if I want to.
Does your email save you time? ⏳
All of the above are simple things. The email system has not changed fundamentally for ages. However, what the creators of Hey have done is very interesting. They decided to break backwards compatibility with other systems. Obviously, we can still send and receive emails to any other email system.
However, with all notes, clips, dedicated “focus containers” and other functionality, it is a separate system that treats email holistically and offers a completely different user experience.
The last thing I would like to mention is that the whole application stack is super lightweight, mainly based on HTML. And thanks to that incredibly fast. It all comes down to saving me my time – the most valuable currency that I spend wisely. Does your email save or waste your time?
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it on social media and spread some positivity.