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Summary:

In my never-ending quest to remember all the multitude of tasks I have to complete each day, I’ve tried my hand at jotting down To Do lists and have explored a few of the frills-free email reminder systems such as Memo To Me. Nothing really seems […]

In my never-ending quest to remember all the multitude of tasks I have to complete each day, I’ve tried my hand at jotting down To Do lists and have explored a few of the frills-free email reminder systems such as Memo To Me. Nothing really seems to work for me.

A few months back, I heard about the site IWantSandy.com. It’s a free “personal e-assistant” that helps you remember the details “so you can focus on what’s important,” or so says “Sandy,” the digital go-to gal.

iwantsandy

I have to be totally honest with you. There are two things that keep me from properly using this email reminder system…

1. The Time Suck: It is such a hassle to enter all the things I need reminding about – like putting in all the cellphone numbers from your old phone into your new one. Just brain-numbing, tedious work that I consistently avoid.

2. The Learning Curve: Sandy has her own “language” or ways that you can phrase emails or commands to her, and my brain is much too full already to try to remember how I’m supposed make requests of her. The only thing I can remember is to phrase my reminder requests as: “Remind me to…”

Here’s the “cheatsheet” from the site for communicating with Sandy:

  • Remember something: “Remember Alaska Air mileage card number is 1234567″
  • Set a reminder: “Remind me to take out the garbage on Sunday evening”
  • Add an appointment: “Remember yoga class thur 4pm”
  • Add a to-do: “Remember to pick up the dry cleaning @todo”
  • Add a contact: “Remember Dad’s number is 503-555-1212″
  • Make a reminder, appointment, or to-do repeat: “Remind me to pay the credit card bill on 9/1 @monthly”
  • Add tags: “Remember to add tags @example”

Something I see as a temporary downside to Sandy: when you first start using her (okay, is it just me or is it weird to be referring to a Web app as a “she?”), she is pretty chatty. The email reminders you get as well as the occasional tickler emails to pay attention to your IWantSandy account are cute, but she kind of gets on my nerves. Luckily, there is a way to reduce her chattiness. If only real life was like that!

Sandy not only sends email reminders but, like other email reminder systems these days, she is tied into SMS if that is your preference. You can also enable a private iCalendar feed of your reminders, appointments, and to-do lists so you can subscribe from and synchronize with your favorite calendaring program like Google Calendar or 30Boxes.com. You can also hook into Sandy from your Twitter or Jott accounts.

I’m still a bit unsure of how Sandy interprets my requests and yet when I type in:

“Remember to upload Web Worker Daily blog post Mondays and Wednesdays at 12pm”

…she sends me reminders 15 minutes before each day’s event like the diligent assistant she claims to be. Smart Sandy. I guess I can’t really complain if she is doing what she says she is going to do.

The rest is really up to me, that is, I have remember to input what I need, to make sure I am clear when events are recurring so I don’t have to keep inputting them, and to check the emails I get from Sandy.

So I can remind myself of recurring events like the events I hold weekly in Second Life, of “one-off” events like a business phone call or, in the case of this week, my massage on Thursday morning (yay!). I can set my reminders for 15 minutes or 30 minutes or any increment of time prior to the event so Sandy can nudge me into action. I can basically dictate when and how Sandy reminds me of the very important things I need to know.

And truth be told, I just spent the last half hour composing this blog post and entering all my most important recurring events into IWantSandy.com at the same time, and I didn’t even break a sweat. Sometimes, the things we fear most are really not so bad after all.

  1. I’ve been using Sandy since “she” started =) and I’ve been happy so far. I don’t use it for everything, but I do like the reminders part. I reach my Backpack limit quickly so Sandy helps with no visible limit on the number of reminders.

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  2. As someone who has a memory issue and is responsible for 3 kids and and elderly father on top of my work, Sandy has been a godsend. I can remind myself of my father’s appointments and prescription refills. Kids special dates are always remembered. And I’ve become much more efficient with customer relations due to reminders to call and email. Sandy rocks!

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  3. Sandy rocks. Using her services via Jott makes scheduling stuff with my voice while I’m on the run a snap. They still need to work on a total sync solution with GCal, but once that is complete, it will be perfect for me. Best app in a looong time.

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  4. The combination of Jott and Remember The Milk works perfectly for me. I looked at Sandy but was turned off by the anticipated learning curve. Jott and RTM – dead simple.

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  5. I LOVE Sandy. I have been searching and searching for a good to-do list program for years now. The closest I came was Remember The Milk, but the problem was that I never remembered to check it.

    The great thing about Sandy is it builds around the absolute most used application for nearly everyone – email. Email is the one item I check every time I’m at the computer, and that I check often.

    I don’t use any features besides “Remind me … at 5:00″. I haven’t visited the website since signing up and configuring my preferences. Still, I love this app.

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  6. I’m a Sandy fan too. I find the Twitter integration to be most useful. I can SMS to Twitter or type into Twhirl something that begins with “d s r” and Sandy deals with it for me.

    I’m also getting a lot of use out of the daily schedule for those things that I’m not having Sandy send me an overt reminder.

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  7. Sandy has worked great for me too. Thy’ve also proved to be pretty responsive when I post a support issue, too.

    That said, I’m not using it to remember all my contacts and stuff like that. That would be a nightmare! I use Sandy to remind me of stuff like deadlines, incidental tasks that I would otherwise forget, and appointments. I use a combination of emails sent to stikkit (a to do list manager that I learned of from this very blog!) with a bcc to Sandy. Works great!

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  8. I’ll echo others and just say that Sandy is great. The twitter integration is really nice so inputting remembers and notes is a breeze.

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  9. I wrote a piece with a UK perspective on ‘I want Sandy’ recently at Bedouin Lounge.
    It’s a great app, but getting it to work properly with UK mobile phone reminders was a total pain!

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  10. Remember the Milk and BackPackIt are good alternatives, although I doubt they have Twitter support.

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