We were getting married in Hawaii—half a world away—in less than two days. We were also ten minutes from the airport and on a trajectory to completely blow through our final check-in window, and ultimately, miss our flight. It was not supposed to be going down like this. In fact, I spent the last six months of my tour in Iraq planning the perfect wedding (a toes-in-the-sand, khakis and flip-flops, zero-stress wedding) precisely so this would not happen.
Every detail had been locked down, months in advance:
- Limo and driver scheduled with on-time pick-up at the hotel? Check.
- Flowers and minister prepositioned at Waimanalo beach? Check.
Everything was all teed up. All we had to do was make our flight.
That that we were about to become the single point of failure was not something that was sitting well with me.
Regardless, here we were, flushing all of my detailed planning and all of my perfect preparedness down the drain. Murphy was exacting a trifecta upon us, the likes of which could only be replicated in actual combat scenarios. How did we get to this point?
The opening salvo began with the late wake-up, the reason for which, to this day I still cannot explain to anyone who asks.
The next barrage was the missing suitcase. I mean, how do you misplace a suitcase? A question or consideration for another day perhaps.
Finally, Murphy’s attack was culminating with some absolutely confounding, for-no-good-reason, bumper-to-bumper traffic in the exact middle of a workday. I know lunch rush-hour can be a thing, but what we were experiencing was just uncalled for.
In any event, fate was conspiring against us and the outcome did not look hopeful. Nevertheless, we pressed on, relentless in our effort to make the flight we seemed destined to miss.
But what if I told you that despite the odds, we made our flight? And what if I told you that the lifeline that saved our wedding day from destruction was an email address?
That’s right, a simple email address. One that in fact, looked exactly like this: firstname.lastname@example.org
This email saved our wedding day. Would you like to know how?
But in order to tell you how this email saved my wedding, I need to tell you a little more about the service behind this email address. The service is called followupthen.com.
What if I told you that with this service, you could also one day save your very own wedding, someone else’s wedding, or an equally important life event of your own?
What if I took a brief moment to explain to you how this simple service holds your key to outsourcing every single one of life’s ankle-biting, death-by-a-thousand-papercuts, I-thought-it-would-be-so-easy-to-do-or-remember-that-I didn’t-bother-to-write-it-down, tasks. You know the kind I’m talking about. I’m referring to those oh-so-tiny-but-often-critical “remembering” tasks that are seemingly so simple we casually commit them to memory and then go about our day.
These tasks range from the completely mundane (renew my WIRED subscription) to the potentially critical (validate checking account balance before credit card auto-payment hits on Monday) tasks that, in the moment, actually only take a brief number of minutes or even seconds to complete. Over time the minutiae of day-to-day simple to-dos such as these pile up in our working memory causing unnecessary anxiety and continuous wonderment (aka stress) about what it is we’ve committed to memory and are subsequently forgetting.
One of the many problems of committing tasks to our flawed human remembering/operating system is that we do not control when we recall these tasks. This is why when something absolutely must be done we put it on our calendar, or on a sticky note that we stare at every single day until the task comes due, or we simply get sick of looking at the note and complete the task.
I’m sorry, where was I? Oh yes, making a small but important point about our human inability to control our subconscious recall abilities. I will reach the end of this story shortly, so please oblige me just a little bit further.
When we rely on our memory to surface tasks for us to complete, it generally happens at an inopportune moment, and often, can bring with it a small moment of panic.
When this happens, it often sounds [inside our heads] something like this:
- Did I remember to move cash from savings into my checking account to cover that extra-large credit card auto-payment tomorrow?
- When did I send in that Nest rebate? Shouldn’t I have received that refund by now? Whatever happened to that?
- Did Bob in accounting send the IRS payment I requested last week?
We all deal with these types of tasks. Simple to execute, but in the hurry and blurry of life or work, they get temporarily forgotten, only to reappear at less-than-convenient moments.
The lifeline that saved my wedding that I’m proposing to you is so incredibly simple that I wrote everything above just to fill some space. That’s because, as you’ll see, the mechanics of this are so simple it feels patronizing to write it down. The application and impact however, are both tremendous and 100% life-changing (I’m specifically not using the term game-changer here so that you don’t roll your eyes and discontinue reading, but technically speaking, the term is actually applicable with this service).
This lifeline is going to give you absolute dominion over your subconscious, or at least, the power to control the exact timing of when these reminders come back to you. All with near effortless front-end requirements (as profoundly simple as, surprise surprise! Sending an email).
Oh, and it might also save your wedding.
Followupthen.com is the website, domain name, and back-end of a magical collection of seemingly infinite email addresses that represent dates (February 14th), days (Friday), or time intervals (365 days, 4 hours, 1 month, etc.). A tiny fraction of that infinite list is detailed for you right here: followupthen time formats.
Followupthen.com also has a short domain (the combination of letters following the @ symbol) that make for easy thumb typing: fut.io
But none of this helps you understand what FollowUpThen is or does… or how it saved my wedding.
FollowUpThen allows you to grab an email from your inbox (imagine with me, the Hulk, grabbing a rag doll), determine when you’d like to see that email again (for example, 2 months from today, at 2pm) and using the corresponding followupthen.com email address (email@example.com), to hurl the body of your email into cyberspace without ever thinking about that email again. All stress, anxiety and remembering associated with that email melts away with the push of the send button.
Why is this?
Because whatever day, date, or time interval you placed in front of “@followupthen.com” (or fut.io) is precisely when you’ll see the email again.
For example, if you —
- Need that email in 5 minutes?
📝 Put firstname.lastname@example.org in the To line.
📨 Send the email.
- Need that email in 3 days?
📝 Put email@example.com in the To line.
📨 Send the email.
- Need that email every year?
📝 Put firstname.lastname@example.org in the To line.
📨 Send the email (recurring events ftw!).
- Need that email every other Thursday at 2pm?
📝 Put email@example.com in the To line.
📨 Send the email.
And when does the email return? Exactly when you told it to… just like Ubu.
Sit Ubu sit. Good dog. 🐕
Although both application and execution are at best, overwhelmingly elementary, so many fail to personally realize the benefits to be reaped by the enormous amount of potential energy sitting idle behind the Send button.
Why is this? I can only guess it’s because of a simple lack of imagination, or perhaps some of the “so what” is just not immediately obvious.
Assuming the latter is your situation, I’ve provided some “tiny” examples for you below.
Gains to be had from using followupthen.com —
- The flawless ability to follow through on your promises (No matter how small the task!)
- Your management of others’ assigned tasks become errorless (subordinates, peers, and boss!).
- Mindless but important tasks are never forgotten (Never forgotten. Ever. To an almost annoying degree.).
- Any of the tasks listed above that would normally be on your to-do list, disappear completely (Like gone baby gone. Only more gone. Completely gone).
I see the glimmer of recognition in your eyes. Kindly allow me to present some practical, real-world use cases along with some of the very few, very non-technical details necessary to get you spun up on using FollowUpThen with the proficiency of a Jedi Knight.
People Management – How Can FollowUpThen Help Me?
FUT Basics: Scenario. You have a request for someone that must not be forgotten. By putting the FollowUpThen email (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Bcc line (as opposed to the To or Cc lines), the email request returns only to you, bringing with it, the full complement of related emails in your threaded conversation (assuming you have conversation view turned on).
As such, when the email returns (2 days, 2 weeks, or a year from now) to future you — who by the way, has possibly forgotten the request completely, which is in fact, the point — by reviewing any new emails present in the threaded conversation (received after you flung the original FollowUpThen email into cyberspace), it’s very easy to validate if what you requested has been accomplished.
How? If after you sent the request, the respondent replied with an answer or a confirmation of task complete, that response would also be in the conversation thread, and obvious to you, the requestor, negating any further follow-up and allowing you to archive the email and move along with your inbox processing regimen.
If there was no response in the conversation thread, a simple reply all to the original email with a friendly, “Hi Bob, how are we doing on XYZ thingy?” and another @fut.io in the Bcc keeps the flawless follow-up never-forget-it cycle in motion.
By the way, if you don’t share this magical tool with your team (we do not recommend hoarding this superpower), they will believe you are a full-on 3rd level wizard with a mind-bending, flawless ability to never forget to follow up on any assigned task. Ever. To an almost annoying degree.
In any event, here are some examples of how to employ FollowUpThen for the furtherance of your people management duties:
Email: Hi Team, here is the summary of meeting due outs. Please note, John owns the first suspense that is due Friday at 3 pm. I’ll follow-up then if I don’t hear back beforehand.
Email: Hi John, do you mind sending out that white paper to the team by 10 am on Friday? I’d like everyone to be able to consider your ideas before we meet on Monday.
Email: Hi Staci, I just received your pay request. I will call you tomorrow by 4pm to discuss.
Email: Dear HR, I noticed my March pay was incorrect. Will you please remedy this mistake in my April paycheck? I’ll follow-up with you to validate I was paid correctly on April 1st.
A nice byproduct of using FollowUpThen and never forgetting any tasks is that your employees will trust you. They will trust that anything you tell them you will do, you’ll do. They will also trust that anything you request of them won’t be forgotten by you.
Reminder for Brainless Tasks / Just in Time Remembering
Email: Hi future self, please don’t forget to log your time every day before leaving work. For your convenience, I’ve included the website hyperlink below.
Email: Hi future self, the rebate I mailed yesterday promised payment in 2-3 months. Please validate I received the $20 refund on my credit card.
As you can see, the use cases are limitless. Hopefully, it’s also clear how FollowUpThen could help you save your wedding. If it’s not, I’ll tell you how it saved mine:
Email: Hi future Josh, in 6 months you’ll be checking in for your 12 pm flight at around 11 am. For your convenience, I’ve included your flight record locator: 2UBQXT. I’m sure you’ll be plenty early for your flight, and I’m sure you won’t need this helpful reminder, but just in case this helps save you a few seconds looking this up, here you go. Oh by the way, congrats! 🙂
So on January 8th, 2010, “future” Josh and Adrianne Evilsizor checked in for their flight with exactly 3 seconds to spare.
They were married in Waimanalo, Oahu, exactly two days later.
Josh and Age both continue to use FollowUpThen… as if their future wedding day depended on it.
This article originally appeared on joshevilsizor.com.