Gmail Goes Back to the Future with Email Scheduling

I've been calling on Google to add e-mail scheduling to Gmail for some time. Now help is on the way in the form of an upcoming service called Boomerang.

A company called Baydin sells a $14.95 product for Outlook called Boomerang for Outlook, which enables you to reschedule the delivery of e-mails you've received and also to schedule the sending of e-mails for some specific time in the future.

I'm sure Boomerang for Outlook, which I have not tried, adds convenience. But Outlook doesn't need e-mail scheduling, because that functionality is already built-in.

Gmail, on the other hand, desperately needs it. Which is why Baydin's Boomerang for Gmail will probably be very welcome. The product is a browser plug-in for both Firefox and Chrome currently in beta mode. If you sign up at the Baydin site, they'll send you an invitation code. Or so they say. I'm still waiting for mine.

To use Boomerang, just click on a "Receive Later" button that the plug in adds. Then you select a date and time. Boomerang moves your message into Archives until the specified time, at which point it moves it back into your inbox, marks it "unread" and puts a star on it.

When in Gmail's Compose mode, Boomerang offers a "Send Later" button. Clicking it lets you choose exactly when.

What's the point of all this?

I got into sheduling e-mails years ago when I used Outlook full time. The habit can be surprisingly useful and powerful.

E-mail scheduling resolves a conflict: 1) an empty inbox is one key to clarity of mind and high productivity; and 2) some things can't or shouldn't be dealt with right away. People who leave things in their inboxes end up with inbox diarrea, and waste too much time finding things.

E-mail scheduling also enables you to target messages to yourself for just the right time. One classic example is while traveling you want airplane, hotel, rental car, parking, restaurant location and other information available to yourself at just the right time so you don't have to stand there on the sidewalk like an idiot searching e-mail for the right information.

You can also schedule reminders to others. For example, if it's Friday evening, and you want to send an important message to a co-worker, it will probably get more attention if you send it Monday morning. You can also ask someone to do something in the future -- say, two weeks from now -- and at the same time schedule a reminder to land on the day of the task. You can wash your hands of the whole thing right then and there, while your co-worker is auto-needled about what she needs to do. Sweet!

Some e-mails contain complex tasks with multiple steps. You can do one step, and while you're waiting for someone else to do their bit, you can have that message come back later as a reminder.

I have found e-mail scheduling to be a central part of my overall productivity and communication process. I'm thrilled that Baydin is finally adding the feature that Google should have included long ago.

Subscribe to the Daily Downloads Newsletter

Comments