In the final quarter of 2017, I set out to validate a personal idea I had been sitting on for a while - a service that reminds me to reconnect with the people I know but don't meet on a regular basis.
The number of people I know keeps on increasing, and being busy adults (debatable) living in different parts of the world, I don't get to catch up with each and every person I'd like to. This is partly because there are way too many people for me to remember and I'm terrible with names. I figured every once a while, I should drop a text that said something along the lines of "Hey! What's up? How have you been?"
Once a month sounded good enough to catch up with people. I went through my contact-book and started writing the names of people on my text editor. I then wrote a script (GitHub repo) that would remind me to reconnect with certain people every day at a certain time.
Since this was supposed to be just an experiment, I didn't want to spend too much time building an application. The script that I ended up writing would send me an email every day at 6:30 PM, reading names from a file. I religiously followed these reminder emails for about two months, after that I would dismiss the notifications from my phone and forget about it until the weekend, when I would send the "Hey! What's up?" texts to all the people I was supposed to reconnect with over the week.
Here's what I learned from the experiment:
Time - The time I set (6:30 PM) didn't work very well. During weekdays, I would probably be focused on work and would ignore the notifications on my phone. By the time I got to check my phone, it would be overflowing with notifications and I would probably dismiss them all. The time at which I would be reminded should have been some time when there was a high chance of me already being on my phone. During the commute to work, maybe?
Emails - Email is probably not the best medium to deliver the reminders. My inbox got cluttered up, and I would have multiple emails in a single notification on my phone, which would only show the most recent two unless I make an effort to see the entire list, which of course I rarely would. This throws the "reminder" part of the experiment out of the window. I'll admit if there was just a single notification with not lots of extra clutter, I would pay heed.
When to reconnect with whom - The script I wrote would pick multiple people to reconnect with every day, in a way that everyone would be picked exactly once each month. However, there are multiple people each much whom I would already have reconnected over a birthday wish. If the service reminds me to reconnect with a person two days after their birthday, it doesn't make much sense too. The service should have a feature that accounts for people's birthday. Maybe in v2?
Modifications - The time at which I received the email and the list of people would require about two minutes of effort to update, but two minutes is a bit too much to update something so trivial. Hence, I haven't updated anything so far. There should have been an easier way to update the list of people and the time at which I want to be reminded.
Taking these learnings into consideration, I reckon it would be a better idea to make something accessible from a mobile phone that would allow me to update the people-list and the time at which I want to be reminded. The medium of these reminders should be something other than emails as well. Push notifications, maybe? Building a mobile app takes too much time of which there's a growing scarcity.
Would you use a mobile app that reminded you to reconnect with the people you care about every day? Let me know. If enough people show interest, I might just invest a bit of time to build something usable by everyone. ✌🏼
There's a list of enhancements at the GitHub repo if you'd like to build something on this idea.