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  • @Waiting For or Tickler?

    Hey all,

    I've finally gotten my GTD system underway and things seem to be going well!

    There are a few situation where I'm not sure what would be the best practice. I have my gut feeling but I'd like to get others' opinions as well.

    Here's the situation:

    I have an project listed on my Project list to implement a new process within a system my company uses. I have been following action steps up to the point where I have to wait until someone adds something to the database. This could be an hour or 3 days from now. Now, I know that my next action is waiting, but I'm not necessarily waiting on someone in particular, but for an external situation to come about that will let me continue (an addition to the database).

    Is this a situation where a tickler would be appropriate, or do I write the outcome I am waiting for on my @waiting for list? even though it's not necessarily waiting on someone. (This is my gut feeling as to where it should go.)

    Or would it be better to put a tickler to remind me to check if the condition has been satisfied for 3 days from now. (My gut is telling me that a tickler is not used for an action for an active project, but only for things that have yet been processed).

    What do you say, experts?

    Thanks for the help!

    What a great system!

    Jason

  • #2
    I would use the Tickler. That way I am reminded to check on it at the appropriate time, but it's out of my hair until then.

    Katherine

    Comment


    • #3
      Really depends on how much urgency there is about completion. If there's a lot of urgency, and you get an auto-alert from the system when someone enters something into the DB, I'd put it in Waiting (because you are waiting for someone to do something, you're just not sure who). Then, as soon as you get the automated advisory that the DB has an entry, you can go ahead.

      If there's less urgency, and/or you don't get an auto message, put it in the Tickler to check in a few days, as Katherine suggests.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by kewms View Post
        I would use the Tickler. That way I am reminded to check on it at the appropriate time, but it's out of my hair until then.

        Katherine
        But would it really be out of my hair if I see that there is an active project without a next action?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jayx773 View Post
          But would it really be out of my hair if I see that there is an active project without a next action?
          It's temporarily not active, assuming you really can't move forward until the Tickler item is done.

          If I were worried about that, I'd include a status note in the project support materials.

          Also, this particular item was only expected to be waiting for three days. I generally only look at my Project List during my Weekly Review, so the item would probably resolve itself by then. If it didn't, then I might decide I needed to add a more concrete Next Action at that time.

          Katherine

          Comment


          • #6
            I guess I'm confused then.

            I was under the impression that a tickler is only for stuff that you don't want to deal with yet.

            So you're saying that the tickler can be used to hold off on Next actions for active projects.

            So if I have an active project like building a model plane, to take one out of the blue, and I just glued on the wings and now it's time to paint. But unfortunately, my special paint hasn't arrived in my mailbox yet which is located half a block away in my apt complex.

            If I know that the paint won't arrive for another week, should I remove the plane project from active and add a tickler in a week to check the mailbox, keep it as active and add a tickler for a week. Or do I create a @waiting NA - waiting for paint to arrive.

            Can you use the @waiting list to wait for a certain day to arrive?

            What's the best practice for marking NAs that can't occur until the future arrives? If I use the tickler system, then in theory, I'm not supposed to even think or know about the next step so I can put it out of my mind, but then my project is just hanging in the wind.

            Or in another example, what if my boss wants me to hold off on the next step(action) of a current project until next monday?

            These are situations I am facing as I am implementing the system into my real life/work.

            Thanks for the help and understanding!

            Comment


            • #7
              I think I just answered the question for my second situation above as I submitted it.

              I my boss needs me to hold off on the next action until next monday, then that would go on my calendar for next monday.

              What I really wanted to know was, what if my boss wants me to hold off on the NA until next week (I can do it anytime as long as it's after next monday).

              Then would I put something like the following on my @Waiting For:

              Boss - Next Monday before I can do Action X

              Once again, thanks for all the help!

              Jason

              Comment


              • #8
                Sorry for the multiple postings!

                I guess to boil it down, I am trying to figure out the best way to record a next action that requires some lead time.

                So, I complete Task A for Project X (not the movie that's cruel to the chimps!)

                Task B is up next, but it can't be completed until 2 days expire.

                It doesn't quite belong in the tickler b/c it is indeed actionable (again, I thought the tickler is for items that may or may not be actionable).

                Oh what to do...

                Comment


                • #9
                  My take on the issue is more along the lines of, if you can't do it RIGHT NOW, then its not actionable, regardless of whether or not you've made a committment to it. Now, depending on the other status, I might react differently.

                  For instance, if this is something that I'm awaiting input on in the future, at some unspecified time, but I should check in on it, I'll throw it on my @WF. However, if I feel that I should be following up on it at a certain day or time, then definitely into the tickler, which gets checked every morning.

                  HTH,

                  Adam

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    But isn't an appointment tomorrow at 3pm actionable, but impossible to do now?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      What Adam said. If I can't do it Right Now, then it isn't actionable and I can ignore it until it is.

                      Where exactly I put my ignorable stuff depends on what the stuff is and how long I want to ignore it for:

                      * Ignore until 5:00 next Tuesday = Calendar
                      * Ignore for a designated followup interval = Tickler
                      * Ignore until a designated project start date = Future Projects list
                      * Ignore until the stars align to make it possible = Someday/Maybe

                      In my own system, I avoid the Waiting For context because it is too vague. I use the Tickler instead. YMMV.

                      Katherine

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by kewms View Post
                        What Adam said. If I can't do it Right Now, then it isn't actionable and I can ignore it until it is.

                        Where exactly I put my ignorable stuff depends on what the stuff is and how long I want to ignore it for:

                        * Ignore until 5:00 next Tuesday = Calendar
                        * Ignore for a designated followup interval = Tickler
                        * Ignore until a designated project start date = Future Projects list
                        * Ignore until the stars align to make it possible = Someday/Maybe

                        In my own system, I avoid the Waiting For context because it is too vague. I use the Tickler instead. YMMV.

                        Katherine
                        I just wanted to say thanks for taking what I was trying to say and saying it much more succintly. (That's sincere, not sarcastic, just wanted to make sure that came across in the forums )

                        Also, I think I'd have to agree with you on the Waiting For Context. Its something I've been trying to use, but never really finding a good use, as in a lot of cases, the breakdown above covers everything, and as such, I end up not reviewing it as much as I should. However, checking that tickler and my calendar every day, there we go.

                        Cheers,

                        Adam

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Without confusing the issue, I tend to use my Tickler for situations where I need to follow up at a designated time, but the @Waiting for situations where I am genuinely waiting for someone to do something. For example, if I call a client requesting information that they have to get back to me with, I will put this in my @Waiting together with the date I put it on the list. I review this list quickly each day and if I have been @Waiting for a period of time (which may vary depending on the urgency of the matter) I will transfer to my NA's to follow up with the client.

                          This approach allows me to have a full mind sweep. My reason for this approach is that I request a host of information from clients and if I was to put a follow up in my Tickler for, say 3 days, and the client responds in 2 days, the Tickler is redundant, whereas if the item is in my @Waiting, I don't have to keep that info in my mind I can do the quick scan and only need to follow up if I am @Waiting for too long!!

                          May not work for everyone and would be interested in hearing other thoughts.

                          Kim

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I agree with Kim regarding the use of @Waiting for delegated items.

                            For what it's worth, I also tend to add a 'chase' date to the item, so I can be reminded that I need to follow-up. It also allows me to keep my project active, even though there may be nothing I can do right now.

                            For example, I may have a project, "Get novel published". Maybe I've submitted it to several agents and publishers, and I'm just waiting to hear back--really nothing for me to do but sit back and wait (at least until the contract negotiations begin!). I don't want to inactivate the project; nor do I want to throw it in the Tickler, because (as Kim noted) a response may come at any time. So I create an entry in @Waiting: "[Agent X] Receive response to manuscript submitted on 3/3/07 (Chase 5/3/07)". This accomplishes a couple of things: first, it reminds me that I'm waiting to hear back from Agent X; second, it keeps the project active, so I look at it during my weekly review and say to myself, "yep, I have a next action - relax, and wait"; and third, in two months, my weekly review will generate a followup action.

                            If I'm just waiting for time to pass, then I put an entry on my calendar. I think an appointment is a perfectly valid next action, it just happens to be an appointment with myself.

                            I tend to use the Tickler only for projects that haven't started but that I want to be sure to look at on a particular date. Another example: for some reason, a particular magazine that I subscribe to likes to send me renewal notices about 6 months before my subscription ends. This project ("renew subscription") has a somewhat specific start date, so I throw the notice in the tickler file for the month it's due. If the start date was more nebulous, it would simply go into the Someday/Maybe file.

                            Once a project has started, I tend to avoid using the Tickler file. The only notable exception I can think of is paperwork that I need on a particular day (ex., concert tickets, driving directions to a party, etc.)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks for all the great advice!

                              Kim and jknecht, I think you guys really understood my dilemna.

                              I think I came up with a solution to my particular issue, which was how to handle a next action when lead time is required. Please let me know what you think.

                              Let's say I am in charge of a project that has been ongoing for quite some time. After implementing something in a system, my boss says wait until next monday until you can even begin thinking about preparing for the next stage, which is to check in with particular individuals who are using the new implementation. (Maybe he wants to give the users enough time to work with the new system and he believes giving them until Monday is enough)

                              Now, if my boss says to hold of until he says to go, I would put that into the @waiting for, since I am waiting for his go ahead. But, since I already know when he wants me to start worrying about it, he basically asked me to add the NA to my context list on monday. So, since I know when I need to go ahead and start doing the next action, my NA is really a day-specific NA on Monday that says 'Put NA (whatever it is) on action list'. I don't need to actually perform that action on Monday; I only need to start worrying about it. So the actual action wouldn't be on monday, only the action to add it to my list. That way, my project has a next action, even though I'm just waiting for monday to roll around.

                              Would that work?

                              Jason

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