Superhuman is, apparently, the email service that every VC in Silicon Valley is talking about. Fair play to them, but I live in leafy Sussex and I’m not a VC. I’m not even sure I know what a VC is. At first glance, Superhuman is not for the likes of me.
But I love it.
What do I love most about it? That it costs me $10 a month. That’s £7.41.
But wait! Isn’t GMail free? Isn’t Outlook.com free? Why am I happy that Superhuman is charging me money for a service I can get for free? Well, partly because the headline price is $30 a month. Yes, $30 A MONTH! FOR EMAIL?! ARE THEY INSANE?!
Maybe. But probably not.
Joining Superhuman – not as easy as just clicking!
I first heard about Superhuman in the summer of 2019. Remember those heady days? Those days when we could go out for a meal, or to the cinema, or to the swimming pool? When we could meet up freely with friends and family, and hug, and shake hands?
Anyway, I digress.
I read about Superhuman and I was intrigued. Could an email service really be that good? I figured I’d sign up, try it for a month or two, and find out.
It transpires that it’s not that easy to sign up for Superhuman!
I first had to join a waiting list, which supposedly had 200,000 or something. Fine. I signed up and settled in for a wait.
Surprisingly quickly, I received an email inviting me to complete a survey. I filled in the survey and waited. Again, the wait was short. I soon received a message from Sahar at Superhuman inviting me to a 30 minute consultation “as the final step” to joining Superhuman.
Wait, what?! This is absurd! I ignored the email. I didn’t want to join a cult, I just wanted to try out an email service!
Sahar was nothing but persistent. Five days later I received another email from her saying “I noticed your consultation isn’t yet reserved” and urging me to reserve my time.
Nah, not joining. $30 a month is an absurd amount of money to spend on email.
Four days later I got another email from Sahar, telling me “we just have a few slots left for the week and I know you’ve been waiting :)”
Fine, you win. I filled out the form, booked my slot and handed over my credit card details.
Zoom (what on earth is Zoom?)
Next I received an invitation to a consultation with Siyarin on something called Zoom. (How strange to think of a time when not only was I not spending hours of every day on Zoom, but actually had never heard of it before!)
So on 8th August I loaded up Zoom and had a 30 minute consultation with Siyarin. I attempted to be cold, unimpressed and indifferent, but WOW! Siyarin was so warm and friendly. She was so helpful. She was so full of wisdom about better email management. And Superhuman was just so darn impressive!
I was an instant convert.
My plan to stay for just a month or two was thwarted by the sheer brilliance of Superhuman. As it was I stayed until January 2020 when I decided that yes, $30 a month really was too much to justify spending on email.
I actually email Rahul Vohra, the founder and CEO of Superhuman, and told him that I loved his service, and if he ever introduced an education plan with a reduced price, I was sure he would get loads of teachers signing up. Much to my surprise I had a response saying that he would give it some thought.
Jump forward to January of this year (2021) and I happened to notice on Twitter that Superhuman had indeed introduced an education plan at $10 a month! Count me in! I emailed the team who quickly reactivated my old account, at the reduced price.
As soon as I opened the app, it felt like coming home. I just love Superhuman. But why? Here are my thoughts:
I get the philosophy of Superhuman. This really came across in my onboarding with Siyarin, as well as the weekly emails I received from Rahul Vohra during my first month or so with Superhuman. They have a specific view on how to manage email, which, whilst it may not appeal to everyone, really appealed to me.
Check your email, triage, star, action, or mark done. Get through everything as quickly as possible. Get to ‘Inbox Zero’ i.e. an empty inbox. As someone who previously had a decent number of emails in my Gmail inbox, all waiting for me to do something with them. It’s really true; keeping my inbox empty really does reduce my cognitive load.
Actually, when I left Superhuman, it became just how much I had been inculcated by their philosophy; this really helped me manage my inbox, even without access to the app.
I LOVE the splits. The idea here is that rather than having a single inbox, it is possible to create several ‘split inboxes’ which funnel defined messages into a specific place. Whilst my personal account only has the default Important, Starred, and Other, plus another for News, my work email account also has splits for emails from our school information management system notifying me that my pupils have gained a merit, another for demerits, one for pupil communications, and another for (highly filtered on Gmail) notifications from Google Classroom. This makes my life so much easier, and it’s so much easier to keep on top of my messages.
Indeed, when I left Superhuman it was the splits that I missed the most. I tried to replicate this set up in Gmail, but it just didn’t work as well. Indeed, it produced a complete mess which proved almost impossible to pick my way through.
I believe that programmers use keyboard shortcuts a lot. It’s not something I’ve ever really used before (other than the standard control-c control-v type shortcuts that we all know and love). Superhuman changed my attitude here. It is built on keyboard shortcuts; there’s one for pretty much everything, beginning with command-k to bring up the command centre.
I’m now a real convert to keyboard shortcuts and really appreciate how they have sped up my work flow (especially working through all those wretched Google Classroom notifications!).
This seems to be the major selling point for Superhuman. The headline on their website is “The fastest email experience ever made.”
Initially my reaction to this was – meh. I don’t need my email to be fast. Email generally seems fast; does it need to be any faster?
I think I had probably misunderstood what they were getting at here. What with the splits and the keyboard shortcuts, it turns out that it’s ME that’s faster, not my email. And this really does make a difference! I really can get through my email so much faster – noticeably so. I hadn’t really appreciated just how much of my day is spent processing email. With Superhuman, it is considerably less.
Seems a bit daft, but for me, this is a significant part of the experience.
But what do I mean, graphics?
Whenever inbox zero is reached, Superhuman throws up a stunningly beautiful image, a new one each day. These really are lovely to look at, and a real motivation to clear my email. It pains me to see a large white expanse broken up with text when my inbox is full. It calms my soul when I clear my email and get to see the gorgeous daily photo.
Superhuman’s app is just the best I’ve used, whether on desktop or on my phone. I’ve tried a significant number, but definitely place Superhuman at the top of the pile. It looks good, it works well, and is just a pleasure to use.
As someone who uses both iPhone (my primary device) and Android (my secondary device), it pains me that Superhuman is not currently available on the latter. I believe that they’re working on this; I hope they launch soon!
Again I come back to this. Seems daft when I could use any number of free apps, but I am really thrilled to pay $10 a month for my email – a significant discount on the regular $30.
It’s probably clear that I am a massive fan of Superhuman. I couldn’t recommend it more highly – especially if you are able to take advantage of the education pricing. Indeed, if you are a busy teacher like me, I would urge you to check out Superhuman.
If you’re keen to give Superhuman a go, I can help you jump the queue – and sign you up for a free month’s trial (not ordinarily available). If you would like to have a try, drop me a message and I’ll get you sorted! (N.B. At present Superhuman is Mac only (although it will work on Chrome on Windows), iOS only, and only works with Gmail/G Suite).