(MoneyWatch) To paraphrase Homer Simpson, e-mail is the cause of -- and solution to -- all of life's problems. The problem with e-mail, of course, is making sense of the hundreds of messages you get each day and finding the one you need at the right time.
There are a lot of strategies for controlling e-mail. Recently, Entrepreneur discussed how to be more productive with your e-mail and recommended adding yourself to the BCC line of e-mail so it's easier to stay on top of ongoing projects and follow up with recipients as needed:
While you often intuitively know you need to follow up with a person or group you've emailed, you can make it easier to track those correspondences. Do this by BCCing yourself on the emails you want to remember to follow up with to streamline the process.
I've heard that advice before, and I'm not a fan. Adding myself to outgoing e-mail simply clutters my inbox with e-mail that's in my "sent" mail folder anyway and doesn't intrinsically solve the right-mail-at-the-right-time problem. I think there are much better options.
For example, if you spend a lot of time on your smartphone, you might consider a mail client that lets you defer messages. Recently, I've discussed bothand , and both are great apps that let you take a message and "postpone" it until some future time. Want to be reminded about a project in a week? You can do that with either of these apps.
But what if you manage your mail mainly on the desktop? Check out followup.cc. This web service lets you easily defer any e-mail just by forwarding it to a followup.cc e-mail address. Here's what I mean: Suppose you are sending an e-mail to a client and want to remind yourself about it in a week so you can follow up. Add email@example.com to the BCC line, and the e-mail will come back to you, like a digital boomerang, in a week.
The service is especially powerful because there are a million ways to defer an e-mail. You can specify days (firstname.lastname@example.org), hours (email@example.com) or a particular time of day (firstname.lastname@example.org). And that's just for starters. You can request a specific date or get recurring reminders. The followup.cc site even has a calendar to let you see when your various e-mails will come back to you.
Followup.cc offers a free service, which you can use to send up to 20 minders per month, or you can choose a subscription plan if you're a heavy user. You can get 250 reminders for $10 a month or 1,000 reminders for $15 a month.
Photo courtesy Flickr user Bryan Pocius