Self-addressed emails: a sticky note substitute

Photo by Ferenc Horvath on Unsplash

I find that if I don’t write something down or have a “place” for it to exist, I lose it or forget about it.

Certain items make sense to store in a Google Drive (like recipes, project plans, personal budgets), others are better sited regular file folders (house documents, reference docs), though some are more bite-sized (pick up an HDMI cable, tune up the bike, schedule vet appointment, call Dad back).

When I get an email from someone, it’s usually one of those bite-sized items: “let’s schedule a time to chat?”, “can you give me your thoughts on this newsletter?”, “when do you want to schedule your teeth cleaning?”.

If emails are short-term requests someone else is asking of you, what’s to stop you from asking yourself similar bite-sized requests?

  • Fleeting thoughts (add calendar event later, pickup toilet paper, call the vet)
  • Reminders for later (call Dad, pay credit-card, pack phone charger)
  • Lists (grocery store, hardware store, weekend to dos)
  • Notes (movie recommendation, new recipe, ask Joe something)
  • Future ideas (install shelf in kitchen, try new restaurant)
  • Things to categorize later (add Spotify to budget doc,
  • Articles/videos to read/watch later

Since I already know the context of the request, I can usually skip the body of the email and stick to 2–3 words in the subject line

Screenshot of an inbox with examples
Screenshot of an inbox with examples
  • I usually have my phone or a laptop with me
  • I check my email several times a day
  • “Sync’d” across my devices
  • Doesn’t require a stand-alone app
  • If you archive the email, you can search or look it up later
  • Can include attachments, URLs, etc.

To be clear, I’m not calling for the eradication of paper. Just like you can’t use screwdriver to hammer nails, there are times where notebooks, paper pads, or whatever other medium is a better tool for the job.

That said, next time you find yourself reaching for a sticky note, consider sending yourself an email instead.

A guy with keyboard and dog curled up in the corner.

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