Tricks for capturing Waiting For emails

wfOne of the key buckets in your GTD system is Waiting For.  So what’s the biggest creator of Waiting For? Sent emails. Sure, you could slog through your Sent folder for which ones you actually need to make sure to track, but that’s like searching for a contact lens on the beach.  Good luck having that be a trusted and efficient system.  Another way to track Waiting For items is to create a simple rule or filter in your email program.   Here are those rules for two popular mail programs:   Gmail & Outlook.  If you’re on a different mail program, it’s usually pretty simple to set something like this up if it’s got a filter or rule function. 

Gmail Waiting For filter:

1. Create a label called @Waiting For if you don’t have one already
2. Go to Settings (top right corner), click on Filters tab
3. Click Create a New Filter
4. Add your email address to the From field
5. Add a unique keyword, such as *wf, in the Has the Words field
6. Click Next step
7. Check off Skip the Inbox” and “Apply the Label: @Waiting For”
8. Click Create Filter

Test it out by sending yourself a test message and put your unique code somewhere in the body of the message. What this will do is save you from having to cc: yourself (and then process it again out of In) or dig through Sent mail to get the stuff that you’re waiting on from someone else. A copy of your email will automatically get filed under your @Waiting For label.

Outlook Waiting For rule:

Here is how to create a very handy rule in Outlook for filing sent emails directly into a Waiting For email folder.

1. Create a new email folder (Ctrl+Shift+E) and name it @Waiting For.
The @ symbol will make it appear under your Inbox.
2. Click on Tools > Rules and Alerts.
3. Click the New Rule button.
4. At the top of the next box, select Start from a blank rule.
5. Highlight Check messages after sending, then click Next.
6. Check off With specific words in the body. Then click on where specific words is underlined and choose a unique keyword for your rule, such as *wf*. Click Add, then OK, then Next.
7. Check off Move a copy to the specified folder. Then click on the where specific Folder is underlined and choose the @Waiting For folder.
8. Click Finish.

Try it out by sending a test message to yourself and typing *wf* in the body of the email somewhere, such as under your signature file. It should send a copy of the email to your @Waiting for folder.  What this rule does is eliminate the step of having to CC: yourself or dig through your Sent file to find emails that you are waiting for a response.