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? πŸ˜‰ 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).

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Leah S March 11, 2008 at 3:23 pm

I’ve actually managed to get some library fines waived. I took out 4 magazines, and promptly returned them. For whatever reason, it didn’t register in their computer that I no longer had them. So I went to the library and asked them to waive the fees because the magazines were ON their shelves! And I was able to prove it. πŸ™‚

mrsmicah March 11, 2008 at 3:29 pm

@ Leah, any self-respecting library should definitely waive those fines. Systems aren’t perfect and I know at least two ways that books can be scanned without checking in. πŸ™ *sigh* I can think of one way to fix such a hole but I don’t know how to program that.

But if a person returns late because the system which so generously sends out “your books will be due in 2 days so return or renew” e-mails doesn’t send them one…eh, they’re responsible. I’ll also waive fines for accidents and such, just not laziness πŸ˜‰

Aryn March 11, 2008 at 4:20 pm

The LA library stopped stamping books a long time ago (which I kind of miss. I recently checked out a book donated to the library in 1918, and according to the stamps, it hadn’t been checked out since 1945. I feel happy knowing that kind of stuff.) Instead you get the receipt, which they won’t let you leave without, and email reminders, and online access so you can check. And I think they call you if it’s overdue, too.

Lynnae @ Being Frugal.net March 11, 2008 at 5:04 pm

I signed up for I Want Sandy, but I haven’t really tried it out yet. Right now I enter everything in Google Calendar, and have Gcal email me a daily schedule. I also set it to send me reminders of certain events.

And then David told me about RTM for Gmail, and I LOVE that! I imagine it would integrate well with using Sandy, because RTM for Gmail lets you keep a to-do list right inside your email box.

Dad March 11, 2008 at 5:53 pm

That sounds interesting. I’m a great user of reminder programs. That one could be what I’ve wanted at home. Thanks πŸ™‚

Jesse March 11, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Alright, Im convinced, Im going to at least try it out…we’ll see πŸ™‚

Christine March 11, 2008 at 7:31 pm

My local library doesn’t stamp — in fact, there are self-serve check-outs now and you don’t even have to deal with a librarian if you don’t have to. You get a printed receipt with your books.

At my university libraries, you check-out with a librarian who verbally tells you the due-date and gives you the receipt — and then you get an emailed reminder two days before your due date. They seem more serious about getting books back — and we’re more serious about it, too. The flat rate to replace a book is $145!

Your Sister March 11, 2008 at 8:17 pm

Want to know what my new obsession for daily or weekly to-dos is? A small whiteboard! It works wonders.

It’s better than paper because specific tasks can be erased while others are left up. It’s better than post-its because it’s really hard to lose and it’s all in one place.

And hey, sometimes it’s nice to use the whiteboard for other stuff like scribbling down tables or something.

Susan March 11, 2008 at 8:55 pm

Never heard of this; very interesting concept! (Gosh I must be behind the times!) πŸ˜‰
Sandy seems especially useful for those who have a lot of different and time sensitive items to accomplish.

At work I have a generic, 8 x 11 spiral-bound calendar with good-sized boxes for each date. I write meetings, in-services, etc in the corresponding date. I like it because I can just pull it off my shelf, open it, and take glance at the entire month. If I do think of something not work-related, I’ll email myself a note with the task as the subject. I keep it as “unread” until it’s accomplished.
Seems to be working for me so far!

Guess I’m just “old fashioned” in this area! πŸ™‚

Finally Frugal April 8, 2008 at 12:36 pm

I LOVE this idea! I don’t own a PDA like a Palm Pilot, and I’m not sure I would update something like that. But I’m on the computer all day long checking email (and, of course, working) and this would be a great way to get reminders for things that I often forget (like when yard waste pickup day is, or birthdays).

Thanks for a great tip!

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