I have a terrible short-term memory. As such, I’m constantly afraid of forgetting something important – all of my open loops stress me out.
For events, keeping a calendar is a godsend. I use Google Calendar, which is accessible at home and at work, and automatically syncs with my Palm Pre so I can access it anywhere. Having constant access to my calendar makes me a happy guy! (before getting the Pre I had tried Google Calendar and gone through phases of disuse)
For a todo list, though, I’ve tried a number of different things without much success. My current theory why nothing has stuck is that a lot of my todos are things that I need to take care of in the next few months. So putting them on a list and staring at them until I finally decide to do them is almost as stressful as having to remember them.
One thing I’ve done that’s worked well is putting time-based todos on my calendar. The easiest example is for checking on a rebate that I send in – after I send it I put a calendar entry 6 weeks from then to follow up on it. It means I have zero to remember, which is the goal. If I get more information about it (i.e. I get an email saying it’s in processing with a URL) I can just add that to the calendar entry and resume forgetting about it.
I suppose I could do the same thing with general todos (pick a date for each one and add it to the calendar), but they’re generally so flexible that I might want to do it early, etc.
Similarly, I’m terrible at dealing with email. I currently have around 25 emails in my inbox. (although it was up to 40 before I made a concerted effort to scrub them last night) Some of these are just general information that I need to capture somewhere. I tried setting up a personal wiki for this, but it never really got traction because I don’t visit it enough. Many of these are reminders of things that should really be on my todo list. And just like todos, having a bunch of emails in my inbox with stuff that I should really do at some point stresses me out.
So I was excited to discover followup.cc yesterday (which is what prompted this post). followup.cc is a service that lets you forward them emails with a date, and on that date they will send you a reminder. This is brilliant for a few reasons:
– In Gmail, it shows up as the next thread in the conversation of the original email, so you have all the context you had when it was in your inbox.
– The way you specify the date is by where you forward it – if I want a reminder on December 17, I’d forward it to Dec17@followup.cc. There’s a whole section of different formats you can use, including time from now and future day of week.
– The original message isn’t gone, of course, so if you need to access it before the reminder fires you always can. I think I’ll label them with a special label to make this easy in Gmail.
Anyway, I’m going to try integrating this into my daily email checking routine for a few weeks and see how it works. Hopefully it’s as useful as it seems right now!
What are your techniques for keeping on top of things?