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Getting Things Done (GTD) recommends using a tickler file for things that aren't immediately actionable but should be dealt with at some point in the future.

How can the equivalent be done with email? For example, what should be done with an email that doesn't immediately need reply/review, but should be replied to on a certain day next month? I'm using Gmail, but answers for any email provider or client would be helpful.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Open the message, Click "More", select "Add to Task", click on the new task, enter due date. Switch back to the message and move/archive. That gives you a task with the link to the original message. (Also, first time): Switch to the calendar and ensure Tasks show up on the calendar.

Now, just review the Calendar daily as per normal GTD rules.

That's the Gmail way. But basically just copy your email (content or link) to a calendar all-day reminder. That's the best way I found to deal with these things.

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I'm using FollowUpThen for such e-mails.

Email followups, scheduled as easily as this: 2minutes@followupthen.com. Clear out your inbox by forwarding emails to FollowUpThen. Make sure your emails get responses. SMS Reminders. Easy reminders — an email away.

See this video for a quick introduction.

Some examples:

  • "This email is sitting in my inbox, but I don't need it for 2 weeks!"
    (Forward it to: 2weeks@followupthen, then archive the message).
  • "I have to have a response to this email!"
    (Forward it to: 3hours@followupthen, or bcc 3hours@followupthen.com on the original message).
  • "I need to call someone while I'm in the car."
    (Email 10am-sms@followupthen.com with the phone number in the subject-line).
  • Sales Person: "Hi Customer, I understand there's not a need now. I'll follow up in a few months."
    (Bcc: 3months@followupthen.com).
  • Project Manager: "Please do important task xyz as soon as possible. I need to hear back asap!"
    (cc: 3hours@followupthen.com)
  • Sales Person (to self): "I should follow up in 3 days to make sure he got the proposal."
    (Bcc: 3days@followupthen.com on proposal email)
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Welcome to Productivity.SE. One-liners aren't really helpful in our format. If you think something is worth using, please write about it, don't just paste links at people. The idea here is to provide answers, not just the same list a search engine would provide. –  HedgeMage Jul 5 '11 at 16:14
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:::Clipped from the site::: Email followups, scheduled as easily as this: 2minutes@followupthen.com. Clear out your inbox by forwarding emails to FollowUpThen. Make sure your emails get responses. SMS Reminders. Easy reminders — an email away. –  Dan Williams Jul 7 '11 at 18:17
    
Thank you for the warm and friendly welcome, HedgeMage. Nothing better than to be welcomed to a community with a reprimand. I think the idea of the stackexchange upvote system is that short answers don't receive any upvotes and so I would learn on my own. Instead of trusting this system you went the extra mile to make me feel not welcome. –  Sandra Jul 7 '11 at 18:57
    
+1 for the nifty site - I might have to try integrating this into my workflow. –  jasedit Jul 7 '11 at 19:55
2  
@Sandra don't feel offended or not welcome. All we are trying to do is to make the SE experience as useful as possible for the community as a whole. This is especially important on a new site like this one since we get a lot of SE-first-timers. You have now received a couple of upvotes for your answer which is great and means that the site you linked indeed has some good information re this question. Why not provide us with the summary in your answer to make it even better and more valuable? Thanks! –  Dmitry Selitskiy Jul 21 '11 at 12:30
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Create a folder, e.g. @todo, @someday. cc: yourself and create a rule to put such messages only sent from yourself in there. Review the folder weekly.

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I star the email and archive it, then add an event in Google Calendar (More -> Create event) for the day I want to follow up. It's helpful to include the email's subject in the Google event description or title to make it easy to find.

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You can copy paste the email url to the calendar event –  Bernard Vander Beken Nov 23 '12 at 15:19
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Check out the Inbox Zero methodology, which mentions the following step

Defer (Sometimes, you can't do things right now, create an appointment/task, delete the mail.)

although you could keep the mail labeled Deferred or in a Deferred folder, it's discouraged to do so as the information of your e-mail should in a note book and the only resulting data of the mail should be a task or an appointment. Don't keep the e-mail to reply to it later, as if you must do a task then it's no longer an e-mail conversation and you could as well write a new mail informing that you are done...

But, these are all generic guidelines which you don't have to follow that strictly. If you are a teacher, for example, you might need to keep e-mail submissions which you will correct by a certain date and send back those e-mails witch corrections. In which case having a Deferred -> Home Task X label or folder structure makes sense...

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