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Plan a nice surprise for yourself—via email

Troubling items and unpleasant surprises can make their way to our inboxes and mail boxes regularly— bad news, harsh critiques of our work, overdue invoices, jury duty notifications and the like. There’s a reason why Julie Morgenstern called one of her books Never Check E-mail in the Morning. You want to start your day on an agreeable note before dealing with the adversity that might be headed your way via the incoming mail.

Nine years ago, I created an online account with the Brooklyn Public Library so I could browse the catalog, order books online and have them delivered to my local branch. Since I no longer had to physically go to the library to look for books, the next four or five years were the best reading years of my entire life.

Every day I was on the website checking the status of a request. As soon as the site indicated a book I ordered was available, I’d run to the library to pick it up. Sometimes three or four books would arrive at the same time and it would feel like my birthday.

Then several days after I already picked up the book, I’d receive a letter in the mail letting me know said book was available. There were times I’d open a letter regarding a book I’d already picked up, read and returned. These letters were a waste of paper for someone like me who regularly checked the status of requests. I asked to be notified via email.

In recent years, my visits to the library’s website have slowed down considerably to maybe once a week and I never check statuses anymore.

The other day I noticed something interesting. Since I’m no longer hawking the arrival dates of books I order, I’m pleasantly surprised when I get an email from the library. There--among the Old Navy ads, Amazon deals and work assignments--will be a little email telling me a delight is waiting for me at the library. Then I try to arrange my day or the following day so I can go pick it up.

I enjoy these emails so much I’ve arranged for others. I’ll look at the upcoming schedule for the Turner Classic Movie channel and request email reminders for movies. Again, receiving an email telling me a great film will be showing the next day is a little mood booster.

Arranging these small surprises involves a bit of effort. It might take hours to find one good book. In fact these days, I spend more time looking for books than reading them. I just consider the research part of the reading process.

Below are a few ideas for arranging email surprises for yourself.

*Send a letter to yourself via Futureme.org.

*Pick a future activity or event you’re looking forward to, then set up a few reminders in your email program.

*Have you achieved something recently? Completed a major project, earned a new credential, or received a commendation? Set up a reminder one year from the date congratulating yourself. Then when you least expect it, the email will pop up and you can feel proud all over again.



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