The best-kept secret of the business world? Email reminder services, which can help turn overloaded inboxes into productivity powerhouses.
No, really. I’ve been using these services for the past couple years, and I’m constantly amazed at how helpful they are--and how few people know they exist.
See, I use my inbox as a kind of to-do list, marking as unread any messages I don’t have time to answer now or need to act on later.
The problem is, as my inbox fills up with other mail, these messages get pushed lower and lower, until eventually they're forced out of sight--and out of mind.
A reminder service gives you a kind of email snooze button. All you do is forward a selected message to a particular e-mail address; at the designated time, it’ll return to your inbox.
For example, suppose a PR person emails me about a new product launch that’s happening next Monday. I decide to write about it, but not until the actual launch day. Instead of spending a bunch of time setting up a reminder in my calendar or to-do list, I simply forward that email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Monday rolls around, presto: There’s the email again.
Different services have different syntax for the kinds of delays you can set, but for the most part it’s pretty straightforward: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and so on.
What’s especially nice is that if an email arrives (make that re-arrives) and you’re still not ready to deal with it, you can click a snooze-delay link right inside the message.
So, what reminder services are available, and which ones are best? PC World’s Liane Cassavoy recently reviewed three free email reminder services: Boomerang for Gmail, Followup.cc, and Followupthen.com. (Keep in mind that “free” gets you just the basics; for more-advanced features, you’ll want to look at pro-level accounts. Worth every penny, in my humble opinion.)
I’ve tried all three of these services myself, and while they’re all great, I have to give the nod to Followupthen. That said, I also recommend checking out Nudgemail, which has been in beta forever but continues to be fully free while it is.
Seriously, if you’ve never tried one of these services, do yourself a favor. This is truly the kind of thing you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.