I have been horribly upset today about HOW MANY PEOPLE dont follow up with calls and requests. With GTD, this fact is highly illuminated.
I understand completely, gtderik. I explored it a bit in What's your maximum response time?, and got some useful comments. For example, one reader suggested I not try to "mind read" - we never know what's going on with someone. Another suggestion was "when in doubt, over contact."
This led me to adopt a person 24 hour maximum response time, which has actually provided some nice relief from the pressure of responding *too* often (more here).
Of course the folks reading this forum have a huge leg up - we have a system to help us manage the commitments, communications, and information flowing into our lives; many others don't have one, and it can show in this way.
When I ask someone for something that requires their response, I immediately create an @WF task. I think about what would be a reasonable time for that person to complete the request, and set an appropriate date on that @WF. This way, it shows up on my list of dated items for that day. If the response has already been received, I can delete the @WF - if not, I follow up. Here's the extra bit: During this follow up if it turns out the item is still not done, I ask the person "When can/should I check in with you again on this?" This politely puts the other person on notice that I'm not going to forget about this. (I then update the @WF with the new follow-up date.) If I actually have to follow up a second time, I start by saying "Last week you said I could/should check with you today about X".
My boss thinks that this is a terrific approach - he once admitted to me that whenever I ask him for something he would gives it special attention because he is embarrassed if I have to come back more than once for it!
I've worked for two companies that employ the "Sunset Rule" where one strives to respond by the close of business each day. The response may simply be an acknowledgment of the message received and when a more complete response should be expected, sort of a safety from being stuck in the office too long.
Thanks for the responses guys. A little background: I am in the middle of planning a wedding. With GTD, I have gotten fast. I shoot from the hip with the @calls list, only to wait and wait for no responses... then yesterday I had maybe 6-8 pending calls and I just flipped. This only further shows that people need to externalize and set up a system.
matt- thanks. I do need to let it slide a little. I read your article- very nice. my situation is that I am in the middle between the bride to be and the people we are hiring and I get caught in the crossfire.. so to speak... I need to breathe a little....
claudia- thanks. i use a palm for my system, I used to flip calls directly over to my WF list when I was done with them. I have been sliding with this practice out of need for speed and part apathy... currently I hide completed actions and go through my lists like a ninja. in the process i am possibly creating more work for myself by needing to go back and delete them from palm desktop at the end... (I SHOULD JUST BE RECATEGORIZING AT THIS POINT... and DATING them!) nice... i think that doing that would really solve this. i had never thought of using the palms "outstanding date" feature to track that way... very nice insight.
br- i completely agree. michael hyatt had a great blog post about the secret to his success is almost completely about HOW FAST ONE CAN RESPOND... it doesnt matter whether action can be taken... simple acknowledgement.