I’ve been evaluating various web tools for reminder systems. One of the more creative ones I discovered was IWantSandy.com, where “Sandy” is your executive assistant.
Once you’ve signed up, you get a special e-mail which you use to communicate with Sandy. You simply e-mail her messages with something like “Remember to read blogs in 5 minutes” and sure enough you’ll get an e-mail reminder in 5 minutes.
Or you can tell her that you want to do something at 3pm on 03/15/08 and she’ll e-mail you 15 minutes before (you can customize the lead time and also get all your day’s stuff in a bonus morning e-mail). You can set a default time for any messages which only specify the date. She comes with 7am, but that might not be early enough for you.
To see more examples of how to set up reminders, visit Sandy’s example page. You can get monthly bill reminders, or have her remember contact information/random facts if you need to.
Sandy can also communicate in other ways (texting, twittering, etc), though I haven’t explored anything but e-mail. (Btw, you’ll automatically get responses to every e-mail you send, confirming your request, but you can turn that off).
Why she’s cool — you never leave the comfort of your inbox. I like Google Calendar, but I have to open it in another window. Remember the Milk can be incorporated with Gmail, but it doesn’t do as well on the next point.
Another reason why she’s cool — timed responses. I like remember the Milk and Fruitful Time (trial period) and have been keeping certain to-do lists in those as well. I think they’re very useful for items that I don’t need to be reminded of as much. For instance, I could put in “Pay Cell Bill” and the due date, but it doesn’t grab my attention the same way an e-mail does. Google Calendar does e-mails, but it requires opening a new tab, since I don’t have it constantly available like I do my e-mail.
She wouldn’t be as good for a general “Things I’d like to get done today” list unless I wanted to make a specific schedule (in which case, awesome1).
I’m a big fan of reminder programs that help me pay my bills on time, return library books, etc. But a word for personal responsibility. These are great but it’s still your responsibility to do what’s due when it’s due or pay the consequences.
For instance, just because you didn’t get an e-mail saying that your books would be due soon isn’t an excuse to not pay fines. You’re an adult for goodness sake. Unless e-mails are the only thing that contain the due date i.e. books aren’t stamped and you didn’t get a receipt either and you can’t access account online. Can you tell what people have been asking me lately? I nicely point out that the books were stamped so they had the due date and explain that if they know the due date my boss doesn’t let us waive fines (except for severe illness, hospitalization, death in the family, etc).