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Calling Your Future Self to Account

One of the tools we have at our disposal to support our efforts in productivity is the sending of messages to our future selves. These messages can often be very effective.

There’s a variety of ways in which this can be done. The easiest way for most of us is by email. You can use apps like Evernote or Outlook to to send you an email on any date you specify. Or you can get websites like FutureMe to do the same. The advantage of using an external website is that you won’t be tempted to cheat by looking up what you wrote, and it’s much more likely that you’ll entirely forget that you sent yourself a message so it comes as a surprise. Hopefully a pleasant one!

What sort of messages can you send to yourself? The only limit is your imagination, but here are a few suggestions.

You might want to jolly yourself along on a long-term project. In which case you could send yourself a series of emails on different dates:

What have you done about x this week?

What have you done about x this month?

What have you done about x this quarter?

What have you done about x this year?

or check that you are still making progress:

Are you still keeping to your diet?

How many pounds have you lost?

Are you still learning Chinese? If not, why not?

How much money have you given to charity?

Have you done anything about your idea for a sponsored run?

Or you might give yourself a prize:

Do you remember you said you would buy yourself a new camera if you lost 20 lbs this year?

Other uses might be to remind yourself of your new year resolutions a month down the line, or reminders of action such as buying your significant other’s birthday present. You could even send yourself study notes, poems, or vocabulary lists for revision.

My experience of sending myself a future message like this is that even after quite a short period I forget that I’ve sent it - which greatly increases its effect when it arrives. This of course diminishes if you send yourself too many - so don’t deluge yourself with messages - you don’t want to become your own backseat driver. Keep them as an occasional weapon for maximum effect.

If you’ve got any ideas for other ways this idea could be used, let us know in the comments.

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