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Waiting For list - how to record what do when it arrives?

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  • Waiting For list - how to record what do when it arrives?

    Hello again,

    I've just started this GTD mallarkey and I have a confusion about Waiting For lists. I looked it up in the index of the book and there isn't much info on it - here's my question : where do you record what to do once a Waiting For item actually arrives? It isn't always going to be obvious or just one single action.

    I have one event which I am waiting for at the moment and a whole lot of things to do when it arrives - all different, unrelated and parts of different projects.

    At the moment my WaitingFor list has several NA's against each item (ie NA's to do when it arrives). I don't think this is pure GTD.

    How do you guys and gals deal with Waiting For lists?

    Cheers,

    Andy

  • #2
    When a Waiting For item arrives, it becomes an Inbox item. We'll assume that it's actionable (otherwise you wouldn't be waiting for it). For any actionable inbox item, the key questions are:
    * What is the successful outcome?
    * What is the Next Action to achieve that outcome?

    From your description, it sounds like the thing you are waiting for is a resource -- a piece of equipment, a new employee, etc. -- rather than an individual item, like a return phone call or a report. If that's the case, getting the resource up and running may be a project in and of itself, and should be treated as such.

    As for where to keep the information, tasks which are waiting for something else are not Next Actions, because they aren't immediately doable. So they don't belong on your NA list. I would put them in project support materials, but it doesn't really matter as long as you can find the list when the Waiting For item appears.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      I think the method may depend on how you are recording your Wait For list. In my case I have one, but could have two lists. One is a folder titled "Waiting" where I have a piece of paper for each item, but it could be a list if I found that helpful. The paper item could include notes, next actions or refer to other documentation for the item. For me, the useful part is even to remember that I am waiting on a particular item.

      I could have an item in my Contact Management system and now that I think of it that way, do have a view items on the calendar in the future to check that something has happened - I could put notes here or refer to the items documentation.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by andycragg
        Hello again,

        I've just started this GTD mallarkey and I have a confusion about Waiting For lists. I looked it up in the index of the book and there isn't much info on it - here's my question : where do you record what to do once a Waiting For item actually arrives? It isn't always going to be obvious or just one single action.

        I have one event which I am waiting for at the moment and a whole lot of things to do when it arrives - all different, unrelated and parts of different projects.

        At the moment my WaitingFor list has several NA's against each item (ie NA's to do when it arrives). I don't think this is pure GTD.

        How do you guys and gals deal with Waiting For lists?

        Cheers,

        Andy
        Welcome to the calm and stress-free world of GTD, or the wild and woolly world, if you prefer.

        Mastering GTD will take some time. One of the key components of GTD is the tracking of projects by maintaining some kind of project plan.

        I currently am looking to increase the lighting in my company's parking lot. I have a project titled "Parking lot lighted." I called the utility that does this work. Then I created a waiting-for NA "utility calls me to schedule visit." Once they scheduled the visit, my NA was a waiting-for "utility looks at parking lot."

        I can now add to my project plan dependent actions like, "utility gives me proposal," "I weigh proposal," "I approve proposal," "lights installed." But none of these dependent actions are in my system today as NAs. The only NA I have in my system is the waiting for "utlity looks at parking lot." All future actions depend on the completion of this action. The future actions are listed in my project plan but they are not NAs in my system.

        Comment


        • #5
          [Events] Agendas for Events

          Originally posted by andycragg
          where do you record what to do once a Waiting For item actually arrives?
          Usually I write the name of the project in brackets behind the waiting-for-item and look up the next action in the action plan for that project (project plan).

          I have one event which I am waiting for at the moment and a whole lot of things to do when it arrives - all different, unrelated and parts of different projects.
          At the moment my WaitingFor list has several NA's against each item (ie NA's to do when it arrives). I don't think this is pure GTD.
          Treat the arrival of the waiting-for-item like a meeting or an event and write an agenda for this event, a list of actions that you will do with each part of that package when it arrives.

          Rainer

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          • #6
            Originally posted by andycragg
            How do you guys and gals deal with Waiting For lists?
            I donít. I am admittedly new to this process, but I havenít found any use for a list of things Iím waiting for. If Iím waiting for something, I figure out how long I should wait before I do something about it & put a note about it in my tickler file. All the related stuff would go in a folder called <name of whatever Iím waiting for>.

            JDC

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            • #7
              Thanks for the replies.

              I'm still not sure how to deal with multiple responses to one WF list item.

              Some may be whole projects in which case I can mark the project name(s) next to the item, some may be NA's (single actions, not projects, need to write down somewhere in case I forget, I can't hope to remember when it goes from WF to inbox) which I suppose I could also mark on the WF list (but NAs don't go on WF lists ...).

              If I wrote an agenda for all these disparate actions then would that be a project (labelled "WaitingFor-Project-Item#")? Where does the agenda go - in project support? And the agenda would point to lots of projects and NAs.

              Eeek!

              Thanks

              Andy

              Comment


              • #8
                Um, Andy? It sounds like you're making this way too difficult for yourself.

                Can you give us a concrete example? That might help us understand what you're trying to do, and maybe suggest other ways of doing it.

                But in general, the important thing to remember (as I see it) is that GTD is only interested in organizing tasks that you can actually do. You're talking about tasks that are not yet doable, and which therefore don't really have an "official" home in GTD. So you can do whatever you want with them.

                You can make a list of dependent tasks and projects and stick them in the "notes" field of a Waiting For item, or in a paper or electronic folder with the Waiting For item's name on it. Use as much detail as necessary.

                You can treat them like any other actionable items, but use a date field (or tickler file) to hide them until the day you expect the Waiting For item to happen. (Best if the Waiting For item is more or less guaranteed to happen.)

                For projects, there may be other things you can do while you wait for the Waiting For item. If so, then you can treat the project like any other until the Waiting For item becomes the limiting factor.

                The exact details aren't really important, because everyone has their own system. It only matters that (1) you track the Waiting For item itself, and (2) you file the other stuff where you can find it again.

                Katherine

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for that Katherine, I was going to give my example but it was too complex to write down here in a hurry.

                  I thought about it afterwards and it turned out that I hadn't got my Projects sorted out properly. I now have project name(s), or single NA, on my WF list so that when the thing arrives I can look at each of the project plans, or simply do the NA.

                  So, that's a lot simpler than I thought it might be!

                  Thanks much,

                  Andy

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