The human memory is an awesome tool, but it isn’t perfect. We all need gentle reminders now and then, so that we don’t forget what we need to do and where we need to be. It would be nice if there was one source that could be the end-all, be-all when it comes to sending yourself reminders. I find, though, that I use a mix of tools to remind myself of what I need to do. Here are four that I use.
Photo by Sarah DuMay.
I’ve previously professed my love for Toodledo. Almost all of my tasks make into into Toodledo, so most of my reminders find their way into Toodledo. All you need to do with Toodledo, when setting up a task, is to give the item a due date and time, check the box indicating that you want a reminder, and then select how far in advance you want to receive the reminder. The reminder then will be sent to the inbox of the email account that you have associated with your Toodledo account.
Google Calendar, with Gmail filters
There are some reminders that are regular enough that I don’t want them cluttering my Toodledo task list. For example, as silly as it sounds, I have a reminder set up to “return phone calls,” which is sent to my work email address every day at the same time. I have another weekly reminder to download any new podcasts and sync my iPhone. I use Google Calendar for this.
Google calendar makes it fairly easy to set up reminders. When you enter an event into your calendar, simply click the “Edit event details” link, and then fill out the information on the screen that appears, which will look like the screenshot above. You then can set it to notify you in advance via either email or a pop-up. I use the email option.
You also can create multiple calendars. I’ve set up two calendars dedicated exclusively for reminders. One is for my personal reminders, and the other is for work reminders that for one reason or another I don’t want cluttering my work calendaring system. My personal reminders go directly into my personal email inbox, so long as I’ve selected that option when setting up the event. For work reminders, I’ve created a Gmail filter, so that any work reminders that hit my Gmail inbox are automatically forwarded to my work email, and deleted from my personal email. It’s a handy way to keep my work and personal lives separate.
Sometimes you want to be able to set up a simple reminder, very quickly. For example, last week, before running out of the office, I wanted to remind myself to schedule a haircut the next morning. Instead of logging into Toodledo or Google Calendar, I quickly headed over to Remindr via a bookmark in Firefox, and set up a reminder. I learned about this handy tool from Digitzd. Remindr is a web site that does one thing, and one thing only, but it does it well. It lets you enter a reminder, the time and date on which you want to be reminded, and where you want to be reminded. It supports notifications via email, Twistter, and Jabber (or Gtalk). It has an entry box for SMS notifications, but the site indicates that SMS reminders are currently disabled.
Smart Phone via calendar or SMS
Smart phone – built in calendar
As great as web apps are, you might not always be near a computer. Even if you get email on your phone, you might not notice the reminder message when it arrives. There are a couple of tricks to getting more prominent notifications on your phone. First, you can use your phone’s built in calendar app. Just make sure, when you create the event, that you set it up to send a reminder or alert.
Smart phone – email via SMS
Another way to get an alert on your phone is to have the email reminder from one of the above apps, such as Google Calendar via a Gmail filter, sent to you via text message (SMS). Most carriers assign each cell number a special SMS email address. For example, to send an email message to an AT&T user by way of SMS, send the message to firstname.lastname@example.org (where 7175551212 represents the recipient’s cell phone number). Just use that email address when setting up your reminder. If need be, set up a filter in your email account to filter calendar reminders to your cell phone. Just make sure that you take into account the cost of text messages on your mobile plan.
There you have four tools to send yourself reminders, and keep yourself on track. How do you keep track of your reminders?