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Welcome! I am Jason Nguyen, a graduate student in ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Bloomington, and this blog is where I make observations about music, culture, and academic life.

Schedule Gmail delivery with Boomerang (feat. my MCAT students)

Boomerang Gmail LogoSo I’m trying to be more proactive with some of my MCAT students, getting them to make realistic, tangible goals that will drive them to succeed on the test and into their medical careers.  (Folks who recognize my abilities of procrastination will find the fact that I am giving this advice greatly ironic and you are welcome to laugh at me.)

Anyway, I want them to (1) email me one tangible goal at the beginning of the week, and (2) reflect on that goal at the end of the week.  However, if you know college students, that’s actually FOUR emails from me.  The first one to tell them to send me the goal, the second to remind them about it, the third to tell them to send the reflection, and the fourth to remind them to send the reflection.  I’m envisioning this as a weekly thing, so I don’t want to take out 4 times a week to remember to do that.  But I can do it all at once by scheduling emails for the future!

* * *

I’m basically whored out to Google, for better or worse, so I needed to find a way for Gmail to do this, because it doesn’t schedule emails natively.  Luckily, I’ve been playing around with a Gmail extension (Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome compatible) called Boomerang for the past month or so, and  it works really well for what I need.  It adds buttons to Gmail that allows Boomerang to send your email at a later, specified time.  Security-wise, my understanding is that they don’t actually store the email,  just the email header and subject line, so they can use Gmail’s API to send it on your behalf.

I’ve also been using it to send myself email reminders (which is probably better done through Google Calendar’s reminder system, but whatever).  It also can remove an email from your Inbox for a specified amount of time (e.g. you get an email about your phone bill, but don’t need to see it for another three days).  Really useful stuff.

Thanks: Inspiration for parts of this post come from Ramit Sethi at I Will Teach You To Be Rich for the advice on his blog about “automating positive scripts” and Techie Buzz‘s post on Boomerang from August 2010, “Schedule Emails in Gmail and De-clutter Your Inbox with Boomerang“.  The former provided the strategic motivation, while the latter gave me the tools to make it happen for my students.

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