When the semester hits its peak, the amount of things you must mentally juggle seems to multiply exponentially. What if you could take 15 minutes now to not only do work your future self will thank you for, but also mean you never have to remember to add routine items to your to-do list in the first place?
In this post, I show you how to give your future self the gift of fewer things to remember (and shorter future to-do lists!) by using a time-saving tool: Gmail’s “send later” feature. Taking 15 minutes now to implement this time-saving tip means you get to devote your precious mental bandwidth to the activities you find most meaningful later.
What is Gmail’s “Send Later” Feature?
During summer 2019, Gmail added the “send later” feature to its email service. If your school uses Google Apps for Education, you have this functionality for your school email.
It works just like its name announces: instead of clicking Send, click the downward arrow next to the “Send” button and schedule a time for the email to be sent.
And yes, don’t worry. You can always see what upcoming messages will be sent and modify those messages at any time. (Note, though, that you always have to click “Cancel Send” text before you can do so).
How to Use this Time Saving Tip: Your Future Self Will Thank You!
Idea #1: Regular Service Responsibilities
The more service and advising responsibilities you accumulate (chairing committees, coordinating events), the more emails will have to send. Most of these emails, though, have relatively routine content and happen on predictable schedules, making them ideal candidates for the send later feature.
Here are some types of emails that fall in this category:
- Calls for agenda items
- Meeting reminders
- Advisee deadlines (apply for graduation, sign up for appointment slots)
- Upcoming scholarship deadlines
- Reminders about extracurricular events (students, clubs, etc.)
Idea #2: Follow Up with Others or Remind Yourself
Ever make mutual plans to follow up on a conversation with someone at a later date? The problem is that one or both of you must remember to do so. Instead, use Gmail’s “Send Later” feature to send the follow-up email now, while you’re thinking about it.
Or, have an important deadline or exceptional event you must remember, but don’t trust yourself to see it on your calendar? Schedule an email to send to yourself so you’ll be sure not to miss it!
Idea #3: Send or Respond before You Forget
Happen to be writing or responding to email at a time you’d rather not announce to the world? (Ahem: I speak from experience here). Or, suddenly remember something coming up in 3 weeks that you need to remind someone about in 2 weeks? Use the “send later” feature to get the email off your plate now, while it’s fresh in your mind and have it appear in the recipient’s inbox at a more ideal time.
Idea #4: Keep up Connections across Semesters (and Beyond)
I am proud to work with passionate scholar-teachers who want students’ learning to extend beyond the walls of their classroom and the confines of one semester. So, I frequently ask students to reflect on their own progress and write letters to their future selves to remind them of the lessons they learned in my courses.
With Gmail’s send later feature, I can scan those documents at the end of the course, while those letters are still fresh in my mind, and schedule them to send to students in the first week of their next semester. Using the send later feature in this way helps students tangibly see their progress and encourages them to reflect on the metacognitive lessons they are (and will always be) learning.
Do These Now to Shorten Your Future To-Do List
Today or Tomorrow: 15 minutes
✓ Scan your calendar for important deadlines you must remind others about by email.
✓ Make a list of the dates those emails should be sent.
This Week: 30-60 minutes
✓ Pre-schedule as many of those emails as possible.
Once you’ve scheduled your first couple batches, leave a comment below or email me to let me know how this time-saving tip has impacted your overall productivity.
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