Bit Literacy — part 9 — Requiring an Email Response

One of the mysteries of managing my email has been trying to figure out how to manage follow-up email.

The scenario is well-know to users of Outlook or any other email program.

You send an email to someone who you need a response from.  To compound matters, the response is needed by a certain time so that you can get on with doing other important activities.

As I say here in the 2Time blog, the point of high quality time management is to get to the point where you don’t have to remember anything whatsoever. Sending an email and trying to remember to follow-up if there’s no response by a certain violates that principle entirely, yet it’s the option I use more often than not.

There are, however, better choices available.

One is to blind copy yourself on the email and store it in some folder or, even better, in your calendar with a reminder.

Another option is to put some kind of code in the body of the email, and use a filter to place a copy of all the emails with that special code in a special folder.

Yet another option is to use some third-party software that does all the above once you remember to active the option when sending the email.

Finally, there is a fourth option I recently discovered in Microsoft Outlook 2007 in which a reminder can pop up a set time after the email has been sent.

I have tried all these “solutions” and I find them to be inadequate.

The main reason is that it’s difficult to remember to take the extra step  just before hitting the Send button. They ALL require me the remember t odo something specific that I currently don’t  have as a regular habit.

Instead, I wish there were a way to set the extra option as the default, because most of the email messages I send do require some kind of response.

Here’s how it would work.

When I click on the Send button, the program would offer me either a chance to enter the date and time of the followup reminder, or allow me to reject the reminder completely.

An added bonus would be for the program to recognize when a response to the email comes into my inbox with the same subject line.  If it recognized the response and immediately deleted the followup reminder, I’d be ecstatic!

If anyone knows of any program that provides the functionality I described, please let me know, as I’m sure that I’m not the only person who is trying not to use their memory for this particular task.