This is a blog post draft which I typed out on my phone several weeks ago. I’ll probably polish it up and publish at some point. One addendum is that I now have my priority subscriptions delivered both to my inbox and to Yakread. That way, reading priority subscription posts in my inbox is an option, but not required. At least I’m aware of all the posts that come from my priority subscriptions, so if there’s one I definitely want to read, I can read it right away, and I know I’m not missing anything. And if I don’t feel like reading it right away, I know that it might show up in Yakread sooner or later.
I started building a reader app called Yakread a month or so ago. It works with newsletters, RSS, Twitter, and a few other things. It’s taken a lot of the burden off my email inbox: I spend much more time actually reading newsletters instead of just triaging them, and my inbox stays tidy with no effort.
However Yakread isn’t a total replacement for my inbox. They work together. I thought it’d be interesting to describe how I’ve set my inbox up to work well with Yakread and give me reading super powers and stuff.
(Some of this will also apply if you already use a traditional RSS reader–Yakread makes a nice companion to those too.)
What Yakread does well
Yakread is uses some Fancy AI Algorithm Stuff® to do the triaging for you, so you can spend your energy on reading without feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff in your queue. It works like this:
- You sign up for newsletters with your very own @yakread.com email address. (You can also subscribe to RSS feeds, connect your Twitter account, import your bookmarks, etc).
- Yakread sorts through all your subscriptions and picks five links. You pick which link to read next. After you read it, Yakread shows you five different links. Repeat.
It’s meant to give the same ease-of-use as apps like Tinder or TikTok, or even Twitter–but for long-form content. Scrolling through Twitter is easy but often lacks substance. Yakread aims to fix that.
The result is that any time I come across an interesting writer, I subscribe to them. I don’t have to worry about subscribing to too many things because Yakread stays on top of it for me.
What email clients do well
On the other hand, what if there’s a newsletter that I definitely want to read whenever it has a new post? With Yakread I probably won’t see every new post, and certainly not the day it’s published. In these cases, the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies: I just use my inbox for these.
I currently have four or five of these “priority” subscriptions which are delivered to my inbox, and everything else goes to Yakread. If I find that I’m not reading one of my priority subscriptions regularly then I can move it to Yakread, and vice-versa.
I’ve set up a few email filters that make it easy to move subscriptions between Yakread and my inbox. I use Fastmail, but since Gmail is more common, I’ll describe how to set up the filters for Gmail. You should be able to do something similar in any other email client.
Let’s say your email address is email@example.com. The first thing you’ll want to do is subscribe to your newsletters with firstname.lastname@example.org. For any newsletters you’ve already subscribed to, you can great a “feed” contact group in Gmail and add them to it.
This is the only time you need to use your @yakread.gom address in fact–all your subscriptions should go through your main email client first.
Next, create a “priority” contact group. Pick a few of your favorite newsletters and add the senders to this group. Create a “priority” folder. Now create another filter that takes emails from any sender in the “priority” contact group and moves them to the “priority” folder. This filter rule should come before the rule that forwards emails to Yakread. That way, priority newsletters will go to your priority folder and not to Yakread, and the rest of your subscriptions will go to Yakread instead of your inbox.
The final step I recommend is to create a “screening” folder, and make a filter rule that moves emails there if the sender is not in your contacts. Then if you subscribe to a new newsletter and it sends a confirmation email, you’ll see it in the screening folder right away. That also gives you a chance to add them to your priority senders if you already know what’s what you want. Remember to add the sender to your contacts at this point, otherwise they’ll keep going to your “screening” folder.
(This “screening” folder thing is similar to what Hey does–now you can get all the benefits of Hey without needing to switch email providers. You’re welcome!)
Eventually I’m planning to add a notification system to Yakread so that it can handle priority subscriptions. Then anyone can use this workflow without needing to set up email filters. However, even in that case, another benefit of using an email@example.com address for all your subscriptions is that you aren’t tied to a particular reader app. You can try Yakread out if you like, but if you don’t like it, you can easily move all your subscriptions back to your inbox by deleting the filter rule. And if you want to try out another reader app like Mailbrew, …, or …, you can do it by simply creating another filter rule.