I am using SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint Designer to attempt to create a workflow that will notify a given user of an upcoming due date. This due date is defined in the list I am running the workflow on and I need the email to be sent 2 days prior to the define date.

I am having some issues with figuring out how to do this. Does anyone have any ideas what set of conditions/actions I might use to do this? I am still fairly new to this so I appreciate as much detail as you can spare.

3 Answers 3


I'd create an on creation workflow that does:

  1. Add time to date, -2 days from the current item, date field. This is stored as a variable for you.
  2. pause until the variable date
  3. if current item status is not complete, send email, else end the workflow

This assumes you have some sort of status column that tracks the progress of the item. If you have a cancelled status, you'd need to add an additional check for that.


Smart Alert Pro-


Set alerts prior to and after to any filter and setting. The user just must be a SP user, unless you sign them up for external user license.



SharePoint Designer workflows are not the best way to achieve reminder emails that need to be triggered by the passage of time (rather than being triggered by user activity). The only way to achieve it with such workflows is by having workflows constantly start every time an item is edited, and then pause until the reminder date.

That approach results in having a lot of workflows paused but in progress at any given time, which can impact your SharePoint environment's performance, and introduces more windows of opportunity for the workflows to fail (anything that interrupts the workflow timer service may cause in-progress workflows to fail).

A better alternative is to run some code on a regular basis to check the list for items that need to have emails sent out.

  • If you're able to develop SharePoint custom solutions in Visual Studio, this could be a SharePoint timer job.
  • If you have access to the web servers on which SharePoint is running, this could instead be a scheduled task that runs a Powershell script once a day.
  • If you have a third party workflow product, such as Nintex Workflow, this could be a scheduled site workflow (instead of a list workflow).
  • Any other solution which allows you to run a workflow on a schedule (instead of the workflow being triggered by list events) should theoretically allow you to achieve the same results.

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