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.
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.