68: My favourite emails of all time
Plus tools for processing them + how to reach "Inbox Zero"
I spend far more time in my email inbox than I would like - and I'm on a constant mission to change that.
Today I'm going to share (1) what I've found helpful and (2) my favourite email newsletters.
It still blows my mind just how much high-quality writing is now instantly accessible thanks to the internet.
We no longer have to rely on central sources to curate information for us to consume - we can do this ourselves by subscribing to an idiosyncratic panoply of information feeds based on our interests.
However, abundance itself can be problematic.
I sometimes find myself subscribing to lots of different sources, only to later develop information fatigue after spending too much time trying to process them all.
It typically happens after I discover a new area of interest. A few months back, for example, I dived into blockchain/web3, so went on a rampage of subscribing to all the popular web3-related newsletters.
What I found helpful was to define my current areas of interest, and to prioritise them. Right now, this is:
Technology for healthcare
Business / building a company
Blockchain and web3
Machine learning more broadly
I then looked through all my current newsletter subscriptions and checked how well they matched these.
I forced myself to be ruthless about eliminating newsletters which didn't fit this pattern.
When I subscribe to a new newsletter, I'll give it about a month to grab me - if I doesn't, I'll unsubscribe again.
My favourite newsletters
There's a small number of mailing lists that have made the cut until today. These are emails that have consistently provided value and align with my interests.
Here they are, roughly divided by category:
Technology for healthcare:
Doctor Penguin: A curated list of the top recent research papers using ML for healthcare
ExplainThisPaper: Simple explanations of cutting edge research applying technology to healthcare (full disclosure: I helped created this, so am definitely biased - but I still think it's super high-value)
The HealthTech Pigeon: Like doctor penguin but with more of a business angle
Rock Health: Top healthtech headlines and funding announcements from the week
Business / building a company:
Out of Pocket: Great deep dives into healthtech companies and concepts
Paul Graham: The OG of YC. Insightful essays on building businesses.
Blockchain and web3:
NotBoring by Packy McCormack: Very high-value deep dives into all things web3
The Batch by DeepLearning.AI: The latest ML news, with thoughtful forewords each week from Andrew Ng.
Individuals (mixed subjects):
Astral Codex Ten by Scott Alexander: Impressively consistent high-value content across many domains. Highly recommended.
Dominic Cummings: Somewhat of a polemic figure, particularly in UK politics, but provides some genuinely interesting insights into politics at a macro-level
Nat Eliason: Thoughtful reflections on a wide range of subjects - often centered around work, money, crypto and meaning
Christian Bager Bach: I found Christian through his Obsidian plug, and enjoy his short-sharp emails about productivity
Mustafa Sultan: A friend of mine who's also a medical doctor with business ambitions. Consistently insightful emails.
Getting emails out of the inbox
I've heard people say that newsletters don't really belong in the email inbox, and I'm inclined to agree.
Emails become about too many different types of task, and the cognitive switching penalty can be hard. For some emails it's a quick reply, for others it's a prompt for a larger task - and I don't really want to add reading + thinking as another.
Thankfully, tools have emerged to help with this:
Instapaper is a tried-and-tested tool that's been around for a while. With one click, you can add any article or email to your personal Instapaper feed - and then read it later on any device you want.
Matter is a more recent player, that's still being built and improved. It goes one step further: you can set up your email subscriptions to go directly into Matter and bypass your inbox entirely - effectively going from one-click to zero-click.
I've been using Instapaper for years, and am in the process of switching to Matter.
After this, my highlights and favourite articles will end up in Obsidian for future reference - more on this in the future.
Getting to Inbox Zero
I'm a huge fan of Tiago Forte's popular blog post "One Touch to Inbox Zero" and the methodology he outlines. I switched to it a few months back, and have been ever-happier for it.
I also enjoyed his video about it too which is part of a wider 5-part series on doing an effective weekly review.
Now an ask: What's a good newsletter I should check out? (feel free to shill your own, if you have one 🙂)
Have a fantastic week!
👋 Hi, I'm Chris Lovejoy.
I'm a medical doctor 🩺 -> machine learning engineer 👨💻 -> start-up founder 💡
I'm on a mission to improve how we manage our health - and share my learnings and experiences here and on YouTube.
I also throw in my favourite things from the internet, and the occasional joke (humour is work-in-progress).