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Using GTD to assign tasks to others w/o using Outlook Tasks

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  • Using GTD to assign tasks to others w/o using Outlook Tasks

    I am a consultant and have several clients where it is my job to keep the minutes and assign various tasks to staff, then keep track of due dates, progress, etc. So far I've been using a word document I title "agendas" and have a separate one for each client. I keep track of my to dos in my GTD system, but how do I keep track of the other people's? As they are clients, assigning them a task through Outlook seems a little too presumptous, plus not all of my clients use Outlook (I'd really like to use the same handy form or project workgroup solution for everyone). I can't hand the tasks off completely into a "waiting for" folder, as A - it needs to be divided out by client, and B - I need to proactively make sure they're doing what's supposed to be done by a certain date or date range.

    Any suggestions?

  • #2
    Have you looked at Highrise? (Web site is highrisehq.com) I've been playing around with it and you can have person-specific tasks and reminders. They'll even email you when the task is due. Check it out.

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    • #3
      I would have to say first off, that your GTD system is for you; it is not meant to manage other peoples systems. Each NA or Project that you have delegated should be on your @waiting list. You can, on this list, add a due date in the title of the item, or as you are using Outlook, set a reminder on the “todo” that you have in a @waiting category. This should be sufficient. When you do your review, and look at your @waiting, you will be triggered to get updates from the necessary people.

      Not what you were expecting as an answer probably, but it respects the GTD principles.

      Regards,
      Scott

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jennytg3 View Post
        I can't hand the tasks off completely into a "waiting for" folder, as A - it needs to be divided out by client, and B - I need to proactively make sure they're doing what's supposed to be done by a certain date or date range.
        Thanks for the clear problem statement!

        Are you sure you understand the @Waiting For list? In a "standard" GTD system, you'll review the @Waiting For list every week. And I mean review, not just glance over to ensure there are no fires.

        If weekly isn't often enough, you can always review it more frequently, of course.

        If I had to check up on things more frequently, I'd create a tickler page with the appropriate people and responsibilities on it. Then check those off as appropriate and slot it back into the tickler for a couple days later.

        Does that make sense?

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        • #5
          Consider externalizing your @Waiting For list

          Like you, I am responsible for delegating work.

          I agree that using Outlook to delegate tasks is presumptious. It presumes that whomever you are delegating to uses Outlook to manage their own tasks. In my work environment, we use Lotus Notes, but I manage my tasks using a Pocket PC that is not sync'd with Notes. When someone delegates a task to me in Lotus Notes, it forces me to manage my tasks in two places. And since not everyone that I work with uses the "delegated" tasks feature, the use of Notes for task management is inconsistent. Whatever you do, do not force your way of managing action items on other people unless they ask you to do it that way -- it will only foster resentment.

          I am responsible for delegating work to 10-20 people at any given time. Also, at any given time, each of them can be delegated 10-20 action items. That's 100-400 waiting for's! The way I stay sane is to use a real project management tool -- in my case Microsoft Project, but there are a couple of good open source/free alternatives that can help you to keep track of who is doing what and when is it due.

          I limit my formal @Waiting For list to items that are not part of a formal project plan.

          For example, a delegated action of "add a new user account to our revision control system" would go on my @Waiting For list because it is an ad-hoc request; not part of a formal project plan. Whereas, a delegated action of "write security framework for the Foo application" would probably be part of a project plan, so it would live in Microsoft Project.

          Having these items separated can create some small amount of confusion -- which list did I have that item on? But a consistent weekly review (including a review of my MS Project files) along with a solid "capture habit" helps with that.

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