Workflow: Five Time-shifting Techniques using Due, Drafts and Launch Center Pro

One of the unique features that Due has is the ability to store a URL action as a part of the reminder title, and invoke it when it's due. So, instead of just adding the reminder text and the due date/time, you can also add a URL action that you want to trigger when the reminder is due. For example, you can compose a tweet and set up a reminder in Due with the Tweetbot URL included in. To learn more, you might want to refer to this post by Jeffrey Kishner.

In the mean time, I have been thinking of ways to time-shift some of my daily actions as reminders in Due. I'm a long-time Instapaper user, and I really like the concept of time-shifting my longer forms of reading. Learning from my Instapaper usage patterns, I have found several criteria in which you can use to consider which actions you should be time-shifting:

  • The action requires more than a few minutes to complete
  • You're stuck in a physical environment where it would not be appropriate to start your action
  • You're bound by external restrictions being applied to you, such as Apple's 50 MB app download cap.

Email Later

The first action is rather obvious. I have found many cases where I had promised someone to email her a detailed instruction, an analysis, or even just an attached file from my Mac. Yet, instead of putting it as a reminder in Due, I put it on my to do list, and it would get processed in a particular time while processing other stuffs in my inbox.

I thought it would be nice if I could create a reminder in Due with a "Mail about [subject]" title, set it to a particular date/time, and attach a GMail's URL that will compose an email draft to a recipient containing the [subject]. The most intuitive way to do this is to write a post in Drafts containing these three lines: the recipient's email address, the email's subject, and the date/time when I want to be reminded.

With the new approach, I can simply create a post in Drafts containing the recipient's email address, the email subject, and the due date/time. Drafts and Due take care of the rest for me.

To process this post into a proper mail reminder, I created two URL Actions in Drafts. I named the first one Mail Later from Due. This action uses three tags: [[title]] as the subject, [[body]] as the due date/time, and [[clipboard]] as the recipient's email address.


Open this link if you want it installed on your iOS device automatically. If you're not using GMail, you can import this action instead. The second action uses Launch Center Pro's in-app email feature instead. (Note: I haven't been able to get the built-in Mail URL Scheme to work from Due.)

Note: Triggering the built-in URL Scheme from Due is apparently not a trivial thing. I haven't been able to get it to work. On the other hand, triggering a Launch Center Pro's URL from outside of the app can also be a problem. When Launch Center Pro is not running on the background, calling one of its URLs would only wake up the app, but would not trigger the action that we want.

The second action that you need to install is an action that takes the first line of the post, put it into the [[clipboard]] and invoke the Mail Later from Due action above. I named it Mail Later.


Open this link if you want it installed on your iOS device automatically.

After you install both actions in Drafts, all you need to do is write the three-line post above, and trigger the Mail Later action. It will redirect to Due where you can set the date/time and save the reminder. When it's due, you can mark the reminder checkbox as checked and it will show a popup confirming whether you want to run the action. You can also open the reminder and scroll to the bottom to find the proper URL, and invoke it. Voila! You will be redirected to the mail client of your choice (GMail or Launch Center Pro) and have the recipient and subject be automatically filled in.

Note: If you want to save some time while saving a new reminder in Due, you can tap and hold the title bar. Doing this will automatically parse the date/time, set it, remove it from the reminder title, and save it. Thanks to the great developers of Due for the tip!

Watch Later

The second action that I'm looking to time-shift is watching a YouTube/Vimeo video that I find while browsing through my Twitter and timeline. Usually I mark such tweet/post as favourite, and browse through all of them at a later time. With the new approach, I can copy the video URL into the clipboard and trigger a Launch Center Pro's action to setup a reminder in Due. This allows me to keep my favourites clean of video links and to set a specific date/time to watch each video.

To install a custom action in Launch Center Pro, you need to paste the URL to the appropriate field in the Action Composer window.

Here's an action that you need to install manually in Launch Center Pro. To install this action, you need to create a new custom action in Launch Center Pro and paste the following code. When you trigger the action, it will prompt you when you want to be reminded and take care of the rest for you.


Call Later

The next action fits nicely to the second criteria for time-shifting, i.e. being stuck in a physical environment where it would not be appropriate to initiate a phone call. To solve this problem, I will create a new post in Drafts, entering the person's name on the first line, and the due date/time on the next line, and trigger a custom action to remind me to initiate the phone call at a later time.

Whenever you're thinking of calling someone, but you can't do it right away, the easiest way is to write a post in Drafts containing the person's name and due date/time. Let Drafts and Due manage the rest.

To achieve this, I created a custom URL action in Drafts named Call Someone Later. This action creates a new reminder in Due with a URL action of putting the person's name into the clipboard and trigger Launch Center Pro's Search and Dial action.

Open this link if you want it installed on your iOS device automatically.

The Search and Dial action in Launch Center Pro will prompt you with a search box, where you can paste the person's name that's already been stored by Drafts into the clipboard.

Once the action reaches Launch Center Pro, you will be prompted with a Search box. Simply paste the person's name that's already been put into the clipboard by Drafts, and you're ready to make that call.

Search App Later

The fourth action that I want to time-shift is related to the 50 MB download limit that Apple currently applies when we purchase an app from the App Store. Again, as I browse my Twitter/ADN timeline, I would encounter recommendations for a new app. Tapping on the link would take me immediately to the App Store, but this approach doesn't always work for me. This is especially true when the file size is above the 50 MB limit, and I'm not on any Wi-Fi network. Then, things just pile up and I tend to forget about it.

This is an example of how most reminders are created in Due. Simply scroll to the bottom of the reminder to see the custom URL that you can invoke.

By time-shifting all app searches to a later time, I'm able to make sure that I open them when I'm on a Wi-Fi network. Here's the custom URL action that I created in Drafts named Search App Later:


Open this link if you want it installed on your iOS device automatically.

The action is pretty straightforward. It simply put the app's title into the search term of the App Store's URL, and store it as a reminder in Due.

Journal Later

The final action on this list is an action to remind me to write a longer form of journal entry in Day One at a later time. This is very useful if you want to remind yourself to write a journal entry related to an event that has just occurred a few minutes ago. Instead of waiting until the end of the day and reflect on all events that occur throughout the day, you can choose to write a small note to yourself and set it up as a reminder to write the journal entry when you're ready.

The easiest to be reminded of writing a journal entry is when you encounter the event. Simply jot the title down in Drafts and get the reminder to automatically create a new journal entry in Day One when it's due.

The idea is pretty simple. Simply write the journal title as the first line of a post in Drafts, and the due date/time as the second line. Trigger a custom action, and have a reminder set up for you. When the reminder is due, it will redirect you to Day One to start writing.

Open this link if you want it installed on your iOS device automatically.

I named this action Journal Later. I prefer to use Day One for my longer form of journaling because it has a Mac version that syncs well via Dropbox. It also supports Markdown. If you want to write your journal in Momento instead, you can import this action to have it installed automatically on your iOS device.


You probably have noticed that Due, Drafts and Launch Center Pro have enabled many interesting and powerful interactions through their URL Schemes. Other apps such as GMail, Day One and Momento can also be a part of the workflow because they also support URL Schemes. Hopefully these examples can inspire you to find your own actions that fit the above time-shifting criteria, and create your own time-shifting actions. My life was changed when Instapaper allowed me to time-shift my reading, and now it's changed again when these combinations allow me to time-shift a whole lot more than just my reading.

To find my other workflows and tutorials, please visit my Productivity and Workflows blog.