Nudgemail claims to be “the easiest way to send yourself reminders.” It is a very simple and easy to use tool that doesn’t require an account sign up and is currently free while in beta. (Their website says that when it moves out of beta, a basic user account will still be free, and additional features will be available for paid subscriptions.)
Here’s how it works. Say I want to be reminded on Thursday to pick up a library book that’s on hold only until Friday.
I send an email to Thursday@nudgemail.com with a note to myself about picking up the book. And then I can forget about this task until I get the reminder Thursday morning. The default time for nudgemails to arrive is 6:30 a.m. but you can change it to another time in your nudgemail settings.
You can address your nudgemails using dates, days of the week, or intervals. You can also set nudgemails to arrive on a recurring schedule. Nudgemail accepts abbreviations, calendar numerals, and named dates.
When the email arrives, you can click on an embedded link to snooze the reminder for a specified number of hours or days, at which point it will show up again in your inbox. You can also set your preferences to receive HTML or plain text nudgemails.
That’s it. Super easy.
Using Nudgemail for Task or Event Reminders
If you already have an effective system for reminding yourself of upcoming tasks or due dates, whether using a calendar or task management tool, and you keep up with your system, then you don’t need Nudgemail for that purpose. (Google Calendar and Remember the Milk will email you reminders if you wish, as will other similar tools)
But if you don’t have so many events or tasks that you need a full-fledged calendar or task system, you might find Nudgemail sufficient. Additionally, if you spend most of your online time with your email open, then you might find Nudgemail useful because it shows up right there in your inbox.
For instance, even though I have an office task list inside of Remember the Milk, for keeping track of things I can only do while I’m on campus, I don’t always keep up with it as well as I should. So if I absolutely must remember to bring a certain book home with me on Thursday, I’ll set a Nudgemail to arrive during my office hours, when I know I’ll have my email open. If I’ve already put the book in my bag, then no problem, I just delete the reminder. But more often than not, the extra nudge is helpful to make sure I do the task.
Using Nudgemail as a Tickler File
In Getting Things Done, David Allen recommends setting up a tickler file. A tickler file is a set of 43 folders (physical folders if you deal with a lot of hardcopy papers; digital ones if you don’t): 31 numbered for the days of the month, and 12 for the months. At the beginning of each month, you distribute the items already in the folder into specific days for dealing with them.
For instance, if I get an announcement about an upcoming workshop but am not ready to decide whether I want to attend, Allen suggests putting the brochure in the month folder for the month when I need to make that decision. Then it’s out of your way and you don’t think about it again until it’s time to make the decision.
I have very limited need for a tickler system, so until now I’ve mostly handled such reminders by adding an item to my task management system. But I really like using Nudgemail for this purpose for several reasons:
- I receive most announcements through email, rather than hardcopy. Forwarding the text of the announcement to Nudgemail keeps all the relevant information handy when it comes back to nudge me. (Again, you could also do this by attaching the email to a Gcal reminder or RTM task.)
- It’s much faster. I can read an email announcement about the workshop and can forward it to Nudgemail in seconds, rather than creating a task or reminder in another system.
- Keeping email in email makes sense for me. If I don’t have to move to another tool, so much the better.
Using Nudgemail to Track Follow Up Responses
If I’ve sent a request to someone for information, I can BCC the email to Nudgemail to send it back to me in two weeks. That way, if I haven’t received the information by then, I can resend my request. (I learned this useful trick from Mark Hurst’s Bit Literacy, which I’ll be writing more about next week.)
I expect this will also be helpful in communicating with students who are working on thesis projects. If Student Steve says he’ll have a chapter draft to me in a month, then I’ll have Nudgemail remind me in a month that I should be hearing from him, so that if I don’t, I can follow up.
Who Nudgemail Won’t Help
If you feel really overloaded by email, Nudgemail might not be a good tool for you. For Nudgemail to really be helpful, email has to be a viable communication channel that you keep up with regularly. If your inbox is cluttered with crufty old messages, then adding to your email stream might not be your best option.
GTD purists will want to track follow ups, future decisions, postponed actions and upcoming due dates in their action lists, rather than sending them off into the cloud. However, you can see a list of all your active Nudgemails and your past month’s history if you want.
Personally, I like offloading minor items to Nudgemail as it helps me truly clear my attention for priority action. Until I’m ready to decide whether I want to attend that workshop, I really don’t need to keep seeing an item about it as I review my action lists. If it’s something important where I do want to prime my subconscious mind to think about it, like a CFP I might want to respond to, then I move it to my action lists.
Although I haven’t encountered any problems, do keep in mind that Nudgemail is still in beta and some bugs may still be getting resolved.
What do you use email reminders for? Let us know in the comments!