You know the scenarios: You’re sending an email to someone, and you have to check that they have responded; You’ve just received an invite to a meeting in 2 months, and you need to remind yourself to do some prep for it; or you want to remind people to do some work that you have sent them by email. All of these situations require you to find a way to set reminders in your diary or app of choice. Worse, often you’ll completely forget until it’s too late. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ve written before about my use of GTD, and how I have my email system set to get my Inbox to Zero every day. I use a variety of methods for setting reminders in the future, but for emails that fit certain criteria, I use the excellent service from followupthen.

Let me start by saying I am in no way affiliated with this service. I use it and it makes a difference so I wanted to share it with you. Followupthen is a free service (a paid product does exist, but I haven’t found the need to use it), that I can use to remind me to do things by email. It is simple to join, and even more simple to use.

Firstly, I only use it for reminders about emails. It is easy to use to remind yourself to pick up some milk, but I have a robust Todo app for that. Secondly, I tend to use it for emails that I need to follow-up on in less than a week, or more than a few weeks. This is because the way I have my system set up, I copy e-mails that I will follow-up on in the next couple of weeks in a @Waiting folder, and they are picked up by my weekly review.

So how does it work? It couldn’t be simpler. First you go to followupthen.com and sign up. This is free, and is only so that the system knows your e-mail address. Then you simple send an e-mail to timeframe@followupthen.com (where timeframe is one of any natural language periods). Let me set out some examples.

Example one: I am sending an email to a client to see if they can meet me for coffee tomorrow at 1100, as I am in the area. I just wanted to make sure they have replied before my first meeting starts at 10:00. I write the email as normal, with their address in the ‘to’ field. Then I BCC it to tomorrow0930@followupthen.com. What this will do is send me a copy of my email, tomorrow morning at 9:30.

Example two: I am going to a meeting with a prospect where I have to do a presentation. The meeting is not for a couple of months (on June 30th) , and they said they will send me some pertinent information 2 weeks before. I send them an email confirming arrangements, and BCC it to jun16@followupthen.com. That way, my email to them will be sent back to me two weeks before my meeting, reminding me that I’m expecting information from them.

The reason I put the followupthen reminder in BCC, is that if I put it in CC, it sends the reminder to everyone. I use this when I am sending something to a group of people that I want to be reminded of something at a specific time.

The format can have a specific date or time or both; it can be relative (3days or nextmonday); it can be recurring (everymonday). The good things is that it sends you confirmation that it has been set, so if you get the format wrong, you can amend it. However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll settle into using only a couple of versions of the format.

Followupthen is not an alternative for a robust Reminder or Todo application, however, for reminding yourself about emails that you are sending anyway, it is a real time saver and something anyone interested in productivity should look in to.

Try it and let me know via ‘comments’ what you think. If you have found this post interesting or useful, please use the social medial buttons to share it. Lastly, subscribe to get updates every time a new post comes up.