04 Apr 2016

Tools and Resources

My Rules for Newsletter Sanity

Over the years, I’ve subscribed to numerous newsletters for subjects like cooking, programming, and science. However, I always fall into the same trap that goes like this.

  • I see the new edition of the newsletter in my inbox
  • I have a sudden spike of anxiety at another thing added to my TODO list
  • To fix that anxiety, I mark the newsletter as read, promising myself that I’ll return to it when I have more time
  • I ignore that edition of the newsletter forever

This cycle obviously has a negative net effect on me, because I never learn anything new about this subject I’m interested in, but my daily anxiety level was nudged ever so slightly higher. Plus, as the number of newsletters to which I subscribed grew, this small effect began to compound.

To combat this increasingly negative pattern, I’ve set up some simple rules for myself.

  1. I only subscribe to newsletters that have a weekly (or longer) release schedule.
  2. I keep the email marked as unread until I actually read (or at least skim) the message body.
  3. Any interesting links, I open in separate tabs to go through gradually throughout the day.
  4. If I fail to do steps 2 and 3 for three consecutive weeks, or if I am even slightly unimpressed with the content, then I unsubscribe immediately.

Following these rules has led me to only subscribe to two newsletter at the moment. The first is The Data Science Weekly Newsletter, which provides a really comprehensive list of relevant articles and tutorials on data science and its sister subject of machine learning. The second is a very focused newsletter called Data Is Plural that sends out a handful of interesting or newly-released datasets with brief descriptions.

I will try new newletters occasionally, but I follow my above rules strictly, which really helps trim the fat that is newsletter junk in my inbox.

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