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Have you ever received an email that you didn’t want to deal with immediately – but didn’t want to forget about? Defer it! Perhaps you want to forward it to somebody else to do but need to set a deadline and a reminder to follow up that it was done? Delegate it! How about sending yourself a reminder for some future date? Schedule it! All by email, here’s how …

My simple time management rule of thumb is Do it, Dump it, Defer it or Delegate it!

  • If the task can be done quickly then Do it! right away, saves you having to remember to do it later.
  • Not everything which comes your way needs a response, Dump it! if you choose not to address it.
  • More often than not you’ll need to Defer it! to some future time.
  • Perhaps you may want to Delegate it! to somebody else with a due date.


There’s an email reminder service called, ( for short, which lets you do all of this in email, simply by sending or replying to emails which include a special email address in the To:, CC: and/or BCC: fields.

I’ve been using FollowUpThen for several years, it’s basically free and very useful at that level. There are also premium features which you may want to pay for, so take the referral link to earn a $5 credit to explore their premium features

Here’s how it works, after creating your free account at FollowupThen: Defer an email to some future date by forwarding that email to using an address which specifies the date and time you want to have it emailed back to you e.g. or or or (there are many more permutations of the date format, but you’ll get the idea from these examples).

When you put the address in the To: field, the reminder comes back only to you, when put in the CC: field then you and the all To: recipients will get the reminder and, lastly, when put in the BCC: field only you will get a private reminder.

Some examples of how I use it …

  • Defer an email to some future date by forwarding that email e.g. To: – only I get the reminder by email on the due date.
  • Reply with a deferral/deadline reminder scheduled to all parties e.g. CC: – I and all my recipients get the same reminder by email on due date.
  • Immediately reply to yet privately defer an email by including a BCC e.g. BCC: – only I get the reminder on due date.
  • Delegate a task with a deadline, including several public and/or private reminders e.g. CC: and BCC:, – I and all my recipients will get a reminder on Feb 14th at 2pm but only I get the 5th Feb 11am and Feb 7th 2pm reminders.
  • Schedule monthly or annual reminder by prefixing the date with the word every e.g., perhaps the premium text/sms feature would benefit you here if it’s your wife’s birthday, which works by including a -sms postfix e.g. – you’ll have given FollowUpThen your mobile number for this purpose.


When a reminder gets emailed back to you you’ll be given the opportunity to defer it again from a link provided in the email. Premium features include being able to text/sms yourself reminders and to include attachments to your reminders.

Sign up to FollowUpThen here — you’l get a $5* credit towards testing out premium features before committing to them. For most people the free version will suffice. Business users will likely prefer their premium services. Your choice, but use the free credit from this link to explore the service without risk.

*Full disclosure, we’ll both get a $5 credit when you use this link.





  1. Thanks Harry – very useful

  2. Thanks for the post, Harry! This is great.

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