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action complete + waiting for = project?

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  • action complete + waiting for = project?

    Hi all -

    I run a small business, and my workday generally consists of going through a ton of email correspondence with our customers and overseas partners.

    One thing I have struggled with is what should become a project and what should be just left in "waiting for."

    For example, let's say that one of my vendors makes a sample of a new product and sends me some photos. I am concerned that the sample is not good enough. So, I send an email about my concerns to my vendor, and put a copy in Waiting For.

    Depending on the response from my vendor, that could be the end of it. But it is also possible that further correspondence and work may need to be done to evaluate the sample.

    Do I put a "Sample of item XYZ evaluated" right off the bat? Or, do I let it go, and wait to add a project to my list until I see how it goes?

    I feel like my projects list is so long because of all the email correspondence I deal with...but at the same time, I like the fact that any more-than-1-action issue is on the list.

    Thanks for your comments.

    -Vik

  • #2
    I would not create a project until after I heard back (or didn't) from the vendor.

    But ymmv.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      If something's on my Waiting For list, it has an entry in my Projects list.

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      • #4
        In the case you described, I think the decision about whether to make it a project depends on your level of commitment: Are you certain that you're going to evaluate the product, or is that going to depend on the vendor's response?

        If you are committed to evaluating the product, and the vendor's response is just one piece of that evaluation, then I record the project.

        If the vendor's response is going to be the determining factor as to whether you commit to an evaluation, then I would keep the "waiting for" as a stand-alone item.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Brent View Post
          If something's on my Waiting For list, it has an entry in my Projects list.
          I've considered this approach, but then I put "Doug: return the book I loaned him" on my "waiting for" list. In this case, the "waiting for" defines the project -- there is no need for the additional overhead of recording a project entry.

          I suppose an argument could be made that the real desired outcome is "The book I loaned to Doug is returned to its rightful place on the shelf" in which case there will be an additional action that will follow once Doug returns the book to me; and therefore, there IS a project associated with the "waiting for".

          Hmm... hadn't considered that until just now. Something for me to think about... What it comes down to, I suppose, is that everyone needs to find their own anal-retentive equilibrium.

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          • #6
            "What it comes down to, I suppose, is that everyone needs to find their own anal-retentive equilibrium."

            @jknecht, You got me laughing out loud here and as I'm in the library I shouldn't be!

            "Do I put a "Sample of item XYZ evaluated" right off the bat? Or, do I let it go, and wait to add a project to my list until I see how it goes?"

            @Vik, Down to personal preference this one I think! If I knew for definate that there would be further actions required, regardless of the vendors reply, then it would be a project as you said "Product XYZ Evaluated".

            If there is a chance that no further action would be required, then to reduce project overhead I'd simply have it as a @Waiting For item.

            Having said that, if this happens often, could you have a general catch all project of "Products Evaluated" that you could assign to many of these Waiting For's? This way it's only one project (less overheads) but you still pickup on it in your project reviews - so it's not just thrown to the next actions lists!?

            Also, what would the vendor have to do so that there wouldn't be any further steps? In other words, when you say "Depending on the response from my vendor, that could be the end of it." what response would create that situation?

            I'm thinking that if they say, "ok, we'll send you some more..." that in it's own right would go on the Waiting For list too and be part of the project? I can't think of a response that would mean the end of it!? Unless they say "Sorry we can't give you better samples!..."

            Interesting post, got me thinking!

            Best regards,

            Andy.
            Last edited by AndyD; 09-13-2007, 09:47 AM.

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            • #7
              Do I put a "Sample of item XYZ evaluated" right off the bat? Or, do I let it go, and wait to add a project to my list until I see how it goes?
              I'm in the keep it simple camp. If it's just a one-off waiting for, and you don't know if there'll be multiple steps after it, just a single entry in W/F should be enough. However, even so, if it's still on your mind, you might feel better creating a project for it, sketching out some ideas/plans/concerns, and filing them. For me, this can be esp. useful for problems - concerns that haven't "blown up" yet, but that are on my mind.

              Hope that helps.

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              • #8
                What I do (effectively for both sales and business partners) is make managing my relationship with them the project. Then any next actions and waiting fors are linked to the client/business partner and I run through each of these during the weekly review. I use a category in outlook called 'project' and I only flag this if there is a next action or waiting for associated with the client/business partner so I don't need to go through my entire list of clients/business partners every single week. But maybe once a month to once a quarter I will do that and ensure I am asking whether there should be something I should be doing with them.

                Paul

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by jknecht View Post
                  I've considered this approach, but then I put "Doug: return the book I loaned him" on my "waiting for" list. In this case, the "waiting for" defines the project -- there is no need for the additional overhead of recording a project entry.
                  My Projects list is one of my primary motivators. It reminds me of what I'm trying to fully accomplish in the short term. If my Projects list doesn't capture what I'm waiting for, I'll have a false sense of the number of projects I'm actually juggling.

                  I have a Project named "Find agent for YA novel." It's halted with a Waiting For regarding a query I sent to an agent. If that email comes back with a "Yes," I'm going to have a lot of work to do. I want my Projects list to reflect that.

                  The alternative is to get five replies in a day on various projects, and find your Projects list ballooning overnight to an unmanageable level.

                  That's what works for me, at least.

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