Recently, I wrote about an email overload solution that did not impress me, but here’s one that does: AwayFind. While it’s not necessarily the absolute be-all end-all solution to today’s information overload situation, it certainly has more usefulness than Attent’s virtual economy where emails are given prices.
What AwayFind offers instead is the ability to step away from your email without missing the really important items – the “emailed emergencies,” so to speak. The service works via an auto-responder which simply states something like:
Messaging me about something I need to know today (like a canceled meeting)? Please click here to get my attention:
You can, of course, edit this message to include other details like when you plan on checking email, whether you’re on vacation, or the phone number to someone else who’s available to help.
If the email was indeed very urgent, the sender will (hopefully) click the link to get in touch with you. This takes them to a web page where they fill in their contact info and the message (which they will likely copy-and-paste from the original email).
The form is not too cumbersome to fill out, but has just enough fields that people will consider whether or not it’s worth their effort. This should help address the slew of email senders who tend to think that their emergencies are your emergencies. If anything, they’ll just go find someone else to get them through their current crisis.
The AwayFind service comes in two variations: a basic, free service and a professional version for $5/month. Most people will need the professional version, as the free service only offers 5 text messages per month. Of course, even the Professional version is somewhat lacking in that department, too, as it only provides 30 texts per month. Then again, hopefully, you don’t have 30 emergencies every month – that’s one emergency per day! Still, it would be nice not to be limited considering that you’re paying for the service.
You can also have email notifications sent to you when someone fills out a form. Ideally, these would be sent to an alternate address (like your personal address), so you’re not tempted to read your other work emails when you receive these alerts. The service actually supports as many different email addresses as you would like.