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Web App Review: AwayFind Helps You Stay Out Of Your Inbox

Web App Review: AwayFind Helps You Stay Out Of Your Inbox

Your email inbox is killing you.

Well, maybe that is a little extreme, but the peeps over at AwayFind think that living in your inbox isn’t the greatest thing in the world. So, to rid you of obsessively checking your inbox 20 times or more a day they decided to develop a new service for alerting you of important messages and helping you stay out of your inbox all day long.

The premise

The idea behind AwayFind’s service is to keep you out of your email inbox by having their service send you urgent messages and things that are worth knowing about. The service will scan your inbox and depending on what filters you have set up on the site and which notification services you have enabled, AwayFind will notify you of messages that you deem important.

AwayFind also offers a way to auto-respond to email as well as giving emailers a way to contact you via a customized web form. The service also can notify you in a ton of different ways including SMS, phone call (not for the free account), email (kind of redundant, huh?), Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, Google Talk, even native iPhone push notifications (Android coming soon).

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These kind of services always seem cool at first blush, but once you start setting it up and using it, there tends to be something missing. Let’s see what AwayFind has to offer for users.

    Setup

    With all the crazy promises and unique features of the AwayFind service you may be surprised to know that it is super easy to set up. I always dread having to sign up for a trial of a new web app, mostly because they force information out of you that you don’t want to give. Not the case at all with AwayFind; I quickly set up my account by using my Google login and I was guided through the process of setting up which way I want to be notified of something important in my email inbox.

    I setup straight SMS messages by supplying my cell number and the system sent me a verification code to enter. After the initial notification and email address setup you can then setup the filters that you want the site to apply to all of your incoming email messages.

    Two filters are already setup for you as examples. The first is an alert that sends you a message when a contact that is included in a calendar appointment within the next 12 hours emails you. The second is an email with ‘urgent’ or ‘asap’ flags. You can then setup new filters based on a contacts name, who the email is to, what the subject is, etc. You can then set up a notification to come to you between certain times on the weekdays and weekends.

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      After setting up some filters you get the chance to take a look at the other great features of AwayFind like the iPhone app that sends push notifications, intelligent auto-responders and email signatures, a customized contact form that can be used for contacts to send you alerts, etc.

      I have to say that AwayFind has done a damn good job of making a complicated thing easy to set up. Even with my technical ability, I sometimes find that these kind of services are complicated and confusing. AwayFind has made the process easy for users of all walks.

      Features

      If you are a feature hungry person and want all kinds of ways to control your incoming email, AwayFind has got you covered. The account that I tried was the free account and found that even for a “limited” version of the service, there were more features than I would possibly find myself using. Here are some of the features:

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      • AwayFind includes ways to setup intelligent filters for scanning your email and notifying you of it
      • iPhone client for push notifications (with Android coming soon)
      • Gmail and Outlook plugins so you can setup and edit filters without signing into the site
      • Custom contact form for people to fill out to contact you
      • A handy guide on how not to check your email

      Also, AwayFind offers several plans that have different amounts of features for users. There is a free version, a Monthly Starter for $15/mo, and a Yearly Pro option for $139/yr. The free plan of course includes a limited amount of features and smaller caps for alerts while the paid versions up the caps and features. You can check out the details of each plan at AwayFind’s plan overview site.

        Execution

        I found that after setting up AwayFind with a few filters that included friends that email me once or twice a week that the service was reliable and decently fast. I did sometimes notice that I would receive SMS alerts in the opposite order that I actually received the email messages, but in my opinion this is a non-issue.

        I then set up several different accounts that AwayFind could send alerts to me including my GTalk account, Twitter, and AIM accounts. I found that setting up the GTalk account took a couple of tries, but everything else was fluid and easy to set up. When receiving messages that matched the filter criteria that I outlined all my accounts alerted me in harmony. It sort of reminded me of The Office’s Ryan and his new web service “WUPHF!”. (Pronounced “Woof!”)

        Overall impressions

        I have to admit that I genuinely like what AwayFind is doing here. I think that having the ability to receive “priority” messages via SMS and other outlets is a good way to stay away from checking your inbox every 5 seconds. But, I do think that there is a small audience for this service.

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        I get a lot of email, but I find that just checking my email 2 to 3 times a day is enough for me to stay on top of things. My contacts know if there is an emergency to call or SMS me. But, if you are receiving hundreds of emails every day and are having a difficult time sifting through the endless garbage that you receive, spending some time with AwayFind’s filters may just be the way to finally take control of your email.

        At the very least, sign up for the starter account to see if this service could work for you; it is definitely worth looking at if you are obsessively checking your inbox.

        More by this author

        CM Smith

        A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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        Last Updated on February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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