Remind yourself to follow up on important emails
Followup.cc is a service that allows you to schedule emails to arrive in your inbox when you want them. It is similar to the previously reviewed Boomerang for Gmail, but differs in some important ways.
I have been using both free and paid versions of followup.cc for several months and find the tool to be an indispensable part of my attention management strategy, as applied to email. The email inbox tends to be a great way for other people to express their plans for my (limited) attention. Liberal deleting and short responses help a lot, but sometimes I need more time to either think about the response, or work on some larger issue before responding. Being able to re-send email to myself in the future, when I know I’ll have the time to devote to the message, has become super helpful. It’s also really useful as a prompt for followup with others (or myself). I can send a note to a colleague with a bcc to followup.cc and then forget about checking in again in three days (or whatever), because I know the note will come back to me as a reminder to follow up. So handy.
Emails are scheduled with special email addresses. If you want an email to come back to you in one week, the address is email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want a specific date, send it to that date’s address, ie email@example.com. If you want a specific date and time, just throw the time in there separated with a dash, ie firstname.lastname@example.org. All your scheduled emails can be viewed and edited in a calendar format in your followup.cc account. This calendar can also be ported to your Outlook or Gmail calendars, if that appeals to you.
I find that using the followup.cc addresses in the *bcc:* field of my emails works best for me with emails that include other people. However, if you want your other recipients to also see the email when it comes back around, just drop the followup.cc address in the *cc:* field and the note will come back to you and everyone else at the appropriate time. The service works fine in the *to:* field as well, and I frequently use that to send quick reminders only to myself, to be delivered later. Attachments are supported in the paid versions, and if you include them in a scheduled email they’ll return to you intact when you need them.
Unlike Boomerang for Gmail, followup.cc works with whatever email host/client/device you choose to use, though there is a special plugin for Gmail if you desire. The free version of followup.cc allows for one email address to be used, while paid versions allow multiple addresses. Multiple addresses come in handy when using the service for both work and personal email, or if you want to share the service with a spouse or partner.
Here’s the thing with this tool: it’s usefulness is limited by your existing email habits. You may be tempted, as I once was, to send more messages to the future than are needed in an attempt to buy yourself some breathing room in the email deluge. This only postpones and compounds your misery. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way. Practice good email hygiene, and use followup.cc to help leverage your attention appropriately.06/24/15