E-mailing yourself reminders for future actions with Google Calendar

In the comments section of an old post, reader Diana recently left a tip about a creative way to use Google Calendar in conjunction with Gmail. Since the post might be off your radar screens, I wanted to highlight it on the main page because I found it to be a terrific tip.

Simply stated, she suggests that if there is a future action you wish to accomplish (call your mom each Sunday, pick up the dry cleaning, follow up about a job lead) that you add it as a single or recurring event in Google Calendar with an e-mail reminder. In Google Calendar, select “Create Event” in the left-hand column be sure to set the reminder to “E-mail.” It might look like this:

I really appreciate reminders that are pushed into my e-mail account because I have a tendency to forget to check my calendar, especially when I’m traveling. Google Calendar also has a nice feature where you can have your daily calendar e-mailed to you each morning.

35 Comments for “E-mailing yourself reminders for future actions with Google Calendar”

  1. posted by Rue on

    I do this all the time, especially for things like bill payment reminders and TV shows that I want to watch. Google Calendar also supports having reminders texted to you, so you don’t even have to have email access to get them!

    I like having reminders emailed because that way I’m reminded of them every time I open up my inbox (whether in front of the computer or on my phone). Just seeing it is a good memory jog.

  2. posted by Nisha on

    A good idea is to also create a filter in gmail to automatically delete the calendar notification emails on days with no events. This way you don’t ignore the calendar emails and get a notification only when you know you have planned events that day.

  3. posted by Rue on

    Oh, and just for the record I keep the email notifications in the inbox (marked as read) until I’ve completed the task or it has passed. 🙂

  4. posted by Gumnos on

    I keep such reminders on their own calendar so I can show/hide them as needed. It’s helpful to have reminders that it’s the day to dust, mop, sweep, clean bathrooms, or wash sheets/towels. For the recurring ones that require being at home, I don’t bother with notifications, but for those that need to be done even when I’m on the road, I set up email reminders as well.

  5. posted by Charley Forness on

    I just started using Google Calendar this past weekend, with the express reason of reminding me to do some recurring tasks related to my 2010 Resolutions. i.e. I set up an event for going jogging, doing yoga, writing thirty minutes a day for a book manuscript, etc.

    I think that the Google Calendar is a great tool and I get the reminders sent right to my phone.

    Thanks for bumping this article to the top again.


  6. posted by Oscar on

    I usualy use the reminder by e-mail and SMS too! It depends of action. Meetings I remember me by SMS, bills and birthdays by e-mail.

  7. posted by Joe P. on

    I’ve been using this approach for the last year or so to mark key home maintenance tasks like cleaning gutters, changing air filters, washing windows, cleaning refrigerator coils, etc. Great way to keep things on a schedule so they don’t slip through the cracks.

  8. posted by Ahava on

    For household tasks and other such things, I have a separate calendar set up with a default email reminder. So that they are not quickly read and then forgotten, I keep the reminders starred in my inbox until I complete them.

  9. posted by elissa on

    Sounds like Google calendars is a great way to duplicate the calendar and to do functions on Outlook. Can Google also handle the contacts function? I currently have my contacts in a Googledocs spreadsheet, but it is not ideal. Thanks!

  10. posted by Cowboy Bob on

    For Elissa, no, you’re on your own with contacts. I double up on everything, having filled in Contacts online as well as in the Thunderbird address book. Hint: Add birthdays, they can be made to show up in Gcal.

    Further extra work (at first) pays off later. I use Gcal and sync it to Mozilla’s Sunbird on my desktop as a backup. Tasks will not sync, so either put them in the calendar itself (how often do things get done without a target date, anyway?) or enter tasks in both places until they get the task sync problem figured out.

    My final double-up is that Gcal will not only e-mail me, but if it’s important enough, it will send me a text message on my cell phone. Great stuff!

  11. posted by Rebecca at Alice on

    I’m a huge fan of doing this and set reminders up for myself all the time to add a certain task to my to-do list that way. A great resource.

  12. posted by titine on


  13. posted by L. on

    Google Contacts is actually fabulous. It is integrated best into Gmail and Android telephones. It rocks.

  14. posted by Fern on

    I’ve done this for a few things, but for things that need doing once in a while rather than always on the same day, I prefer hassleme.com. You can set it up to hassle you ‘about every X days’ to do something, which creates a welcome break in routine and switches things up a bit.

  15. posted by Alli on

    I do this for everything.

    Bills to pay. Dishes (Sun/Mon/Weds/Fri repeating.) Standing social engagements. Expirations of auto insurance. Spa appointments. Recurring hair cut appointments. Everything.

    And a lot of phones now will coordinate with Google Calendars, so I can add events to my phone, that will email me the morning of – or I can add events on my laptop, that will ding on my phone with as much or little heads up as I like.

    One can also repeat on third Thursdays and other relative dates.

  16. posted by Gillian on

    I use resnooze.com to do the same thing but its much quicker and simpler and will email you every day until you tell it to stop.

  17. posted by allen on

    I use this for studying & reminding myself about exams. I like to set up more then one email reminder; normally a week before the exam, three days before, and a day before. Just a little tap on the digital shoulder. 😀

  18. posted by Sheryl on

    You can also do this with Yahoo! mail and calendar – I’ve used it this way for the last few years, though I’ve just also started using TeuxDeux (http://teuxdeux.com)in my browser.

  19. posted by Sheryl on

    OOPS! The parentheses and “in” collided with the link…

  20. posted by Peter on

    I just have RTM email me.

  21. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Peter — Remember the Milk is awesome, too.

  22. posted by luxcat on

    actually, Google will email to any email address you use to set up the account, so if you don’t have a gmail address it works just fine emailing you reminders at yahoo, your work email, or whereever!

    i don’t use it for day to day stuff, but i ended up having to plan my wedding in less than 12 weeks. once i made my to-do list and plotted out everything in google calendar (to do date and a follow up or due date) it is easy to keep track of each item

  23. posted by Brandon Green on

    It’s a cool trick, but does anyone else have reservations about trusting too much to Google?

  24. posted by Ellis Godard on

    Using a calendar and email to keep track of tasks, is like like using a toaster and a blender to make pizza.

    Someday Google will unveil a task/todo service that can be taken seriously, with reminders pushed to email, SMS, IM, wrist watch, and/or wherever else you might want them.

  25. posted by Jen on

    I do this almost daily, but with my cell phone calendar. I don’t know what I would do without the helpful reminders each day of what I’m supposed to remember. I never remember to look at a calendar on my own.

  26. posted by Nancy on

    You can also set Google calendar to text reminders.

  27. posted by Kathy on

    I was thrilled the day I learned how to synch up my google calendar and the calendar function on my iPhone. Now my iPhone just reminds me, but google is still the master calendar that my husband and I use.

  28. posted by ms on

    In Google Calendar, you can create separate calendars for different topics (i.e., personal, work, home maintenance, etc.). It is then possible to allow designated people to view whatever calendar(s) you want.

    This feature works very well for our family members as we coordinate ongoing care for an elderly relative.

  29. posted by Drew on

    This is a great tool to keep on top of your to do lists. I use this method whenever I have something that needs to be done at a later time.

  30. posted by Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com on

    Great little hack this. I’m just using paper diary this year as I’m a bit of a Luddite.

  31. posted by Lilliane P on

    I’ve been using the google calendar for awhile now and love it. I also use a small pocket planner for small daily stuff that doesn’t repeat and isn’t important enough to go into the GC.

    Thanks for the tip about home maintenance and chores. Will set up a separate calendar for that. Great idea. For those of you not using GC, you can have these separate sub-calendars, and show them or not as you wish on your screen so you don’t have to open a cluttered screen.

  32. posted by elissa on

    Has anyone found a google calendar already loaded with annual maintenance/spring cleaning type entries? I’d love to copy it.

  33. posted by Five Calendars? Assessing & Streamlining « Property & Casualty Speaking on

    […] ***update Google Calendar Tip from Unclutterer – Email Reminders from Google Calendar […]

  34. posted by Rich on

    How come it doesnt seem like Task integrates with anything. SHouldnt there be away in contacts to make a task to call somebody. Or if you are in calender and you set up a reminder couldnt be saved in task as well.

    Looking for a job and need to keep track of alot of comments.

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