AwayFind launches new features to help people curb their addiction to checking email

When I go on vacation, I’m a loyal AwayFind user. The service makes it so I don’t have to check email while I’m traveling, but I still receive emergency messages via text message (or IM, a secondary email account, or a phone call). Instead of being tethered to my email while I’m supposed to be relaxing, I can actually relax because I know only the very important stuff will get through to me.

We’ve previously written about AwayFind’s basic service, so today I just want to discuss a cool new feature that was released on Tuesday. The new service is called “People I’m Meeting Today.”

This feature isn’t really for folks on vacation, but is great for consultants, real estate agents, and anyone who is regularly running from client site to client site. To activate the “People I’m Meeting Today” feature, you link your digital calendar to AwayFind and then set a notification period. If a person you’re meeting with emails you right before your upcoming meeting, you’ll get a text message or phone call. This is extremely helpful if the meeting time or location changes at the last minute, and you’re already headed to the meeting.

Another feature, called “Alarm,” was also released on Tuesday, but I haven’t yet tried it. It’s an iPhone-only service, and it actually rings the phone’s alarm whenever you receive contact from a specific person. For example, if you are waiting on a message about your dream job, instead of checking your phone every few seconds, an alarm will sound if the person contacts you in any way — call, text, instant message. You can have the ringer off on your phone, and the alarm will still sound if the VIP calls you.

AwayFind isn’t free (which is why I only use it when I’m on vacation), but, to be fair, it’s also not very expensive ($15 per month or $140 per year). You can try the basic service for 30 days for free to see if it works for you. And, it should go without saying, but AwayFind isn’t compensating me in any way to write this, I’m sincerely a fan of the product. I’m specifically happy about their commitment to helping people get over their addiction to constantly checking email.

8 Comments for “AwayFind launches new features to help people curb their addiction to checking email”

  1. posted by Barbara Smith on

    Some of these features might be accomplished through using gmail (that’s my mail email service, but I would guess others have this feature as well) filter. For example, I have an iphone and I do not have the iphone check messages automatically. On the rare occasion I need to know EXACTLY when a certain person emails me, I set a filter (using my computer) for the instance and have it forward to text message or Boxcar (iphone app) and I will be notified.

    What is nice is the automated nature of it, but if one is organized and ask clients, etc. to use a particular subject line in their email messages (or set out a separate alert mechanism), you probably can get this done for free.

  2. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Barbara — Gmail notifications work only if you are anticipating communication from someone. What’s nice about AwayFind is that people contacting you can push their message to you in an emergency. For instance, you may not have emails from your mom set to notify you because she frequently sends you jokes, etc. However, if she is emailing you something more pressing, she can follow the instructions and actually get the emergency message to you.

  3. posted by Sharon on

    Honestly, this strikes me as pointless. I can get all my email through my iPhone anyway and it takes no time to scroll through a bunch of messages and see what’s urgent / needs responding to. If I’m meeting with a bunch of clients, I can scroll through 20 messages while I’m waiting for them in the lobby. I really don’t see the point of paying extra for this.

  4. posted by Sharon on

    Sorry, hit send too soon. It’s pretty common practice in my consulting word that if a meeting room changes (etc), we email one another and we figure it out when in the lobby or in the rental car. This is too complicated of a work-around when you can just check email and be done with it, or you can see who called and left a voicemail and be done with it. Sorry, this is clutter.

  5. posted by Celeste on

    If somebody is truly addicted, they’re just going to get addicted to staring at the phone waiting to see if something comes in. It would just be healthier to practice behavior modification techniques like setting a time or times of the day to check email, and snapping a rubber band on the wrist whenever an earlier urge arises (for example). If the person really is addicted to checking email, it seems like it would be better for their life to just deal with it head-on like any other problem than to pay for a vacation workaround.

  6. posted by Jared Goralnick on

    Thanks, Erin, for the continual coverage of AwayFind (I’m the Founder)! So glad you like our latest features, and I do hope it’s helpful to your readers, who I can see from the comments are quite crafty!

    Just thought I’d clarify a couple things and reply to Sharon and Barbara.

    Barbara, Erin was right to point to us having a contact form others to choose to alert you. But there are a lot of other differences to how our alerts work–

    * We’re trying to keep people away from their inbox (i.e., away from constant email interruptions — the real thing that causes overload) so with our iPhone or (soon) Android app, you can read the message and reply to it without having to go back to your inbox.
    * SMS often costs money, so by using iPhone/Android/IM alerts (Which people now use way more than SMS on our platform) you can get alerts without paying extra
    * Our SMS alerts give out a lot more information than those you get from Google–you can receive up to 3 SMS’s, which means you can actually read nearly all the relevant bits of the message without checking your email
    * Our SMS works internationally
    * It’s a LOT faster to create mobile alerts with AwayFind. So if you do it regularly it saves a lot of time.

    And to Sharon, all that AwayFind does is about that last bullet point–it’s about saving people time and freeing them from distractions. With extra time and patience, one can do anything that technology does, but we’re just trying to make people who are a little overwhelmed a little less so. I’m REALLY glad that you don’t have that problem, we just find that some people do. We get emails all the time from customers saying that, on the way to an appointment, they got a phone call saying the meeting was canceled or rescheduled, and that AwayFind saved them an hour right then. That’s valuable to some people, but not everyone.

    Thanks so much to you all for helping me to understand how other folks are solving this problem. You all are pretty sharp and obviously doing a good job to get through the inbox clutter!


  7. posted by Melanie on

    I am not sure that I want to give others the power to determine for me whether a message is urgent or not.

    I would think people would begin to catch on, and mark all their messages as urgent…and pretty soon you are back to square one.

    Yes, there really are lots of people out there who seems to think all of their messages are urgent.

  8. posted by Jared Goralnick on

    Great point, Melanie! Many of our users just set up alerts for the people or topics that matter to them–so no one has any magical power to make a message urgent.

    Erin, I love your readers–no one voices their opinion on our app these days and just stays on the sidelines probably thinking the same thing!

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