Have you ever saved an email in your inbox because you needed to remember it next week? Do you write email ahead of time and save it in a draft folder, only to forget to send it when it needs to go out? Is your assistant constantly reminding you of deadlines you can't miss, but you don't have time to respond right then? Email is a great tool, but it has no sense of manners or timing. It's like your Uncle Fred, that awkward guy who shows up at your door or calls at the absolute worst time. It's not that you don't want to talk to him, you just wish he had better timing.
I use to have a love/hate relationship with my inbox. It was a never-ending struggle to keep it managed and tidy. But then I found a Firefox plugin called Boomerang, and my entire relationship with email has changed.
Boomerang is only available through the Firefox browser and it works through the Gmail platform. Basically, it's a scheduler for email. You can send a message away and tell it to come back in an hour or a week - when it's more relevant. No more missed deadlines. The reminder notice will show up exactly when you need it to. Here are a few of the ways we use Boomerang everyday:
Send it later
You can write a whole batch of email messages all at once, when you have a few minutes of downtime or when you've got a certain topic on your mind. With Boomerang, you just click the "Send Later" button, schedule when you want the message sent, and move on. You can use the calendar option or just type "next Monday" and you're done. The program sends your message automatically at the time you set. Imagine sending a whole year's worth of birthday, anniversary and congratulations messages in just a few minutes.
Receive incoming mail when you need it
How often do you get important messages that you need to keep track of for a later date? Things like invitations, deadline notices, or information you need for a meeting in two weeks. It's too easy to lose track of the message by simply keeping it in your inbox. With Boomerang, you can send it away and tell it when to come back. It doesn't really go away, it's just archived until the appropriate time. The original sender doesn't know you've put it off until later, either. When that time comes, the message just reappears in your inbox as if it were a brand new unread email.
Remind me if I don't get a reply
This feature is really cool! Sometimes you really need a reply to a message for some reason or another. Maybe you need some input from an employee or some data from a client. With Boomerang, you can set a time frame on any message you send out. If you don't get a reply with in that certain time, you get a reminder so you can follow up. Nothing falls through the cracks, and you avoid last-minute panic attacks from not receiving the reply you needed. Just make sure to follow up in plenty of time.
Get reminders on the go
I do a lot of traveling, and it never fails that I'll remember something I have to do the next day while I'm waiting for a plane or eating in a restaurant. Boomerang also has a mobile version. So you can send yourself an email reminder and have it arrive when you need it to (like 8am the next morning.) This also means you don't have to pull out your laptop to take care of email work while you're on the go. If you have five or ten minutes of wait time, just pull out your phone, type some messages and schedule them to send at the appropriate time. I find this especially helpful when working with my team across different time zones and in different countries.
If you're drowning in email, have trouble remembering important dates, do frequent follow-ups, or just wish the world worked on *your* time schedule, give Boomerang a try. It makes my life simpler, and I'll bet it will help you, too.