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how to CYA w/GTD--keeping running lists of info that *may* become important

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  • how to CYA w/GTD--keeping running lists of info that *may* become important

    An old idea from Franklin Covey was that whenever you had a phone conversation with someone and wanted to document the info, you jotted brief notes on your "daily record of events" (aka DRE) page, which is part of their planner. In the seminar I took w/them 10 years ago, the instructor said that an entry from a DRE page had once been used in court as evidence to prove that a conversation did take place, implying that this was important evidence in the case. No way to know if any of that is truth or urban myth, (either way, it sure is great marketing for *their* system) but I also think the concept has merit.

    When having a conversation with random customer service representatives (CSR) at various large organizations (wireless phone service, health insurance company, etc) I have found that details that seem mundane at the time can become vitally important later on, and I sometimes regret it later on when I didn't document the conversation. Regardless of whether the CSR made an honest mistake, or was sloppy and just didn't care about being conscientious , "proof" of the nuts and bolts of the conversation, and the name/extension, etc, of the CSR becomes very important, especially with Big Anonymous Companies with so many call centers and tons of employees. Often, you can't get any help without this proof even when you know that they goofed, or they suggest you write a complaint letter--it just wastes time and energy and I find this totally depressing.

    I believe that records of such conversations can serve as scissors that cut through this red tape of awful bureaucracy, non-action, and finger-pointing.

    I know of someone (a non-GTDer) who keeps good conversation records, and when faced with a subsequent disagreement over the facts is able to say something like "I talked with Jane Doe at Extension 351 at 3:32 pm Pacific time on 5/31/05, and she said that she was crediting the disputed $30 to my account...this has still not been done.." The mention of date, time, and name of employee generally works miracles, but if that doesn't work, she adds "well, we could always pull the tape of the recordings your company makes of the incoming calls...you know, the ones for quality assurance and training purposes!" and it generally does the trick.

    I could use some suggestions for Best Practices for capturing, organizing, storing, and retrieving such information in a paper-based system?

    For a while, (before I read GTD) I was keeping a phone log. (Yes, I know David frowns on these in GTD). Indeed I had been using it to "scan" for incomplete loops and see which calls I still had "open" and was waiting for a return call, which I now do via @Waiting For. But still, the phone log seems like better "proof" that I actually made a call or had a conversation on a particular day just because it logs things in chronological order and you can't easily "fake" that without faking a several pages of a phone log as they are generally spiral bound so new pages cannot be added. And, sometimes even the "proof" that I had placed a call and left a message was itself vital information...

    My desire is to take notes on such conversations with pen/paper--I cannot use a computer or a handheld for this.

    Would a fresh sheet of paper for each conversation, with the time and date of the call (or meeting) noted at the top, and the names of the person(s) I spoke with (or was tranfered to, in the case when I am sent from department to department) important info just written down on paper and then filed in the appropriate Reference file be appropriate?

    Or are there better ways?

    Any help appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Cindy
    Last edited by sablouwho; 08-10-2005, 10:47 PM. Reason: fix typo

  • #2
    From a GTD point of view, I would say phone logs are like reference files: once you review them for actions, they are outside the system, and therefore pretty much up to you.

    There are essentially two ways to keep a phone log: chronological, and by person contacted. For a chronological log, I haven't seen anything better than Franklin/Covey or Daytimer-style pages. Get one of the two-page per day styles that has a timed second page for notes.

    Logging by person contacted probably makes it easier to retrieve the notes later, but harder to take them in the first place. The simplest approach might be plain old notepaper with the person's name and the date at the top. I've seen contact record sheets for use with paper planners, but haven't actually used them.

    I do my own logging by person, but in a much less formal way. For encounters with customer service people, I just take notes on the receipt or other record of the original transaction. Ongoing relationships, both work- and personal business-related (car service, brokerage, etc.) usually have files related to them, so I take notes on paper and stick it in the appropriate file.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      I keep a page for specific issues or appointments. I am in direct sales and for each appointment I book, I have a page where I take notes on each conversation so I know what my hostess is excited about, what she's working for, notes on who she is inviting, notes on the status of the event each time I call, etc. I have all of my active coaching in a specific section in my planner (paper system) that is separate from my projects and next actions. I transfer any next actions to the appropriate list, and I consider each appointment sort of a project complex enough to have notes.

      You could easily do the same for customer service issues. If it's a credit card account, keep all your notes in one place and then when the issue is supposedly resolved, print the notes and put them in the file with your statements. I think that is a very good idea.

      I think there is a phone log that simply logs calls and there is a log that contains notes about logs that may be useful in the future. I don't think David would object at all to the latter, especially since that information can be used to generate next actions, etc.

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      • #4
        I would venture to say that these calls are in some way related to a project since one usually makes multiple calls to service centers for a single issue

        What I do is log the info on my project notes. In my case, I use the note field of the item in the palm task list. For paper people, use a single sheet of paper and list the calls in chronological order. File it with your project notes. I find this to be the most effective way for me because my notes are right there when I pull up the project file for review, which I usually have open before I make that follow up call.

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        • #5
          [Taking Notes] CYA

          Originally posted by sablouwho
          Would a fresh sheet of paper for each conversation, with the time and date of the call (or meeting) noted at the top, and the names of the person(s) I spoke with (or was tranfered to, in the case when I am sent from department to department) important info just written down on paper and then filed in the appropriate Reference file be appropriate?
          This is exactly what I am doing since about 1990 and it saved my neck several times.

          Rainer
          Last edited by Rainer Burmeister; 08-11-2005, 12:31 PM. Reason: bad grammar

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