ONE OF THE MOST USEFUL but least used features
of some e-mail programs, including Microsoft Outlook, is the
ability to send and forward e-mail to a specific time and date
in the future.
I'll tell you why in a minute, but first
I'll tell you how. In Outlook, open a new message and click the
Options button on the toolbar. Under "Delivery options,"
click the "Do not deliver before" box and choose a
date and time. Click close and address and send e-mail normally.
After you click the "Send" button,
Outlook puts your mail into its Outbox. It will sit there until
the time and date specified and, if Outlook is running, be sent
normally. If Outlook isn't running, it will sit there until the
next time Outlook is launched.
So why would anybody want to do this? Here
are six reasons to forward or send e-mail to the future.
1. Send reminders to yourself. If
you get an e-mail from your spouse that says "we're having
dinner with the Joneses three weeks from Saturday," what
are you supposed to do with that information? Simply forward
the e-mail to yourself so that it arrives a day or two before
the event. You can forward and forget it, knowing you'll be reminded
again when you need to be.
2. Send reminders to others. If
you have co-workers, family members or others who don't follow
up on requests or who let things fall through the cracks, send
them your request and copy yourself. When your copy comes back,
forward it to yourself or to them in the future
as a reminder.
3. Memorize things. Let's say you
want to remember something difficult such as the original
name of the city of Los Angeles (which is "El Pueblo de
Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de la Porciuncula,"
which means The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the
little church that St. Francis rebuilt). You can learn it now,
but in three weeks you probably won't remember it anymore. So
forward it to yourself in the future to quiz yourself. If you
still don't remember, memorize it again and forward it again.
You'll eventually retain that information permanently. (Note:
don't use this technique to memorize personal information, such
as your PIN numbers, passwords, or social security number
you don't want this information traveling over the public Internet.)
4. Smart procrastination. Some things
are more urgent than others. If there's something you want to
make sure you do just not right now forward a reminder
to your future self.
5. Keep your inbox empty. Are you
one of those people who reads e-mails, then leaves them in your
inbox as a reminder? Next thing you know, there are 2,365 messages
in your inbox. That makes the task of finding things very time
consuming and defeats the purpose of keeping reminders in the
first place. You'll be far more efficient, productive, and relaxed
if you empty your inbox every day. Create folders in Outlook
or on your computer, and file e-mails that you're keeping for
reference. (Use an indexed search tool like Google Desktop to
find things quickly.) Place very time-specific reminders into
your Calendar. And for everything else, choose a date in the
future to deal with them and forward accordingly.
6. Separate work and personal e-mail
according to time. If a friend sends you a wacky video while
you're at work, it's probably not a good idea to sit there watching
"TV" and laughing while you're on the job. Forward
the e-mail to the weekend and enjoy it on your own time. Likewise,
if you get something work-related on Sunday, forward it to Monday
and deal with it when you're being paid to.
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