The Relief (And Boredom) Of An Empty Inbox

Hey screens all email and lets you cover up read messages with an image

I use Hey for email, and it screens emails by default. You have to approve every new sender, and file them as Imbox (important), Feed (newsletters), and Paper Trail (transactional stuff). After a week of this admittedly manual labor, my inbox was quite organized. And surprisingly empty. Right now I have two things in my inbox. I usually have zero.

It’s remarkable how little truly important mail from humans we get, and how much our inbox is clogged with bots.


The Imbox name still makes me immediately cringe, but the concept is not cringe-worthy at all. By filtering emails I set what’s important, and that’s the only email that gets to interrupt me. Everyone else is there, they just have to shut up. I didn’t realize it until I stopped, but with normal email we’re bombarded with messages.

You bought this…
Do you want to buy that?
Did you hear the news?
Behold, a cat!

We of course leave them unread, and then our Inbox looks full, even though it’s 90% not important right now. And the important people and priorities in life get buried. Manually filtering senders in and filing them does wonders for one’s email experience. Compared to GMail, it’s positively Zen like. Honestly boring. Please email me, most days it’s crickets.

Hey is a great and brave implementation of this idea, but you could theoretically do it on GMail or whatever. The experience just wouldn’t be built around that from the ground up, so it would probably suck.