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Best way to handle "Waiting For..."

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  • Best way to handle "Waiting For..."

    What are some of your practices for handling "Waiting For..." items?

    For example, say that your @NA is to "Call John Smith re: Revenue Report". You call John, and he says "I'll run the report and send it to you tomorrow".

    Ok, so your @Next Action is done and ready to be "checked off"; you called John. But there still is something that needs to happen for you to get this report - you are "Waiting For..." the report from John. Do you:

    1. Add a "Waiting For..." item on your @NA list or where ever you store WF reminders...
    2. Leave the "Call John Smith re: Revenue Report" on your @NA list, unchecked, and add WF to the beginning (eg. "WF - Call John Smith re: Revenue Report"...
    3. If it's a project, put a note in the project that says "WF - Revenue Report from John Smith"...
    4. Some other way of leaving a reminder that there something still needs to be done re: Revenue Report...

    In my mind, "Waiting For..." items are not "Next Actions" for me, so I don't clutter my NA list with items that fit this category. I have a Notes category set up called "Waiting For.." I like to keep my radar clean of things that are not for me to do when I'm in the "heat of battle", but I still want to be reminded that something is "in progress".

    I'm basically looking for a way to make sure that "WF - Revenue Report" shows up on my radar, especially when it can't wait for my Weekly Review.

    I've been going back and forth between the above regardig "Items that need to be done, but you are "Waiting For" someone else to do them".

    As always, your thoughts are greatly appreciated!

    James

  • #2
    If I am waiting for e.g. a call back I put a tickler reminder on my calendar "CB John Smith? XXX-XXXX" allowing him a a reasonable amount of time to call back. Other items e.g. things I mail order go in a @waiting for category (along with what I ordered, the phone number, etc). The key for me is to review the relevant lists frequently e.g. every morning at work I review the @ work, @ computer, @call, and @waiting for lists.

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    • #3
      Waiting For ...

      I use a separate list -- @Waiting For category in Outlook/Palm. I can look at this list very quickly and usually find myself scanning once or so each day. I want Waiting For items separate from Next Actions because they are dependent on someone else taking an action or something I've delegated.

      I like David's trick of putting the date at the end of the subject, for example:

      "Mary re: expense report approval, 9/18"

      Hope that helps,
      Mark

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      • #4
        Where do you keep the list, in the ToDo's or in the Memo section?

        Where I run into trouble is in a situatioin like:

        For example, on 9/18 I had a next action "Call John Smith re:X-Project"
        I called John and left a message for him. I checked of "Call John Smith" and added "WF - Call back from John Smith" to my "Waiting For..." List.

        At the start of my day on 9/19, I review my "Waiting For..." list and see "WF - Call back from John Smith". Still haven't heard from John, but I'll give him some more time.

        At 3:00, my boss comes over and says "Where do we stand re: X-Project"... The truth is, how do I know? I've already forgotten what I reviewed this morning. Should I check my next actions list? How about my Waiting For list? All the while, while I scramble through my lists looking for something related to "X-Project", my boss is getting impatient.

        Along these lines, I think that a note in the Project "WF - Call back from John Smith" would be better. I could just open the file (note in memo pad) and see "WF - Call back from John Smith, 9/18".

        Items like "WF - Order from Staples" (not that important; doesn't need to be in my face, but I want to be reminded that it's still out there) might be better of on a seperate "Waiting For..." list.

        If something is important, perhaps it should go as a Tickler on the Calendar for some date in the future. I'm affraid that an important "Waiting For" item on a seperate list, not in my face, might get missed.

        I guess there is no "hard and fast" rule w/regards to "Waiting For..." items, but I wonder if all of the items would be better off in one place or as I've described.

        Comments, Please!

        James

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        • #5
          1. "John re: project xyz" would be an item on my @Calls list.
          2. When he tells me he is going to call me back (putting the ball in his court), I add the date to the task line as DA suggests, and simply change the category to @Waiting For. The entry is now off my @Calls lists without me having to write anything.
          3. When I review my @Waiting For list and see that John has called back after a reasonable length of time, I either 1) pick up the phone and call right then, or 2) change the category to @Calls and place a reminder call when I am making other calls.

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          • #6
            Waiting for items

            For every project, I keep all my notes and lists of the actions taken in the note section of the todo item. If my boss shows up and wants to know how a certain project is coming slong, I open the to do items and I know instantly where I am.

            As far as waiting items, I have all of these in a @WaitingFor category of to do items, and I review this twice a day (morning an after lunch).


            Roger

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            • #7
              Waiting-for Items

              I use Zoot to implement GTD, but something similar could probably be done in Outlook or on the Palm:

              I have most Projects entered as single items in Zoot, with a "Next Action" column defined (among others). Before the call, the NA would refer to making the call. After I'd made the call, I would insert a notation (with a date & time stamp) in the item indicating that I'd made the call, that he was getting the stuff to me by X date, etc. Then I'd just change the NA column to read "Waiting for materials", change the Status to "Waiting," and add a reminder to pop up on an appropriate date.

              I've got a Zoot folder defined that displays all items where Status=Waiting, so it's easy to scan the contents.

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              • #8
                Power of the weekly review

                I can't help but think, here, about the power and importance of that weekly review. It's true that some people do their "waiting for" reviews more often than that; however, I've found that in the Weekly Review I wear another hat. (Has anyone else found that?)

                The hat I wear on Fridays between 1-2:30 is: CEO, Jason Inc.

                Each list I review, from the Projects, to the Calls, to the Waiting For, I'm doing the same thing for EVERY item.

                I imagine it done; yes, I actually visualize successful completion on each task, and each project. It serves to get me ready for hitting the runway later that day or the next week.

                I make sure it's still active, that I'm still agreeing to do it, and that there is sufficient "motivation" to move. (By the way, if I have to motivate myself to do something, chances are I'm not motivated to begin with...that's my clue to re-negotiate that item; can I delegate it? "someday/maybe" it? delete it all together?)

                During the Waiting For review, I ask: Am I ok still waiting? If any part of my internal radar sounds or flashes, that's my clue to move that item on to ANOTHER action list. (@calls, @computer, @agendas)

                Happy Friday! Enjoy YOUR weekly review...

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                • #9
                  Finding project X when boss asks

                  I've had this same problem, embarrassing, huh! What I finally learned to do is title each task with the name of each client (I'm a lawyer, there are lots). Each client also usually has several projects at once. So, if Mr. Jones' revocable trust is one project, and call sally is the next action on that project, the title of the next action looks something like: "JONES: revocable trust - call Sally re status." (There might also be "JONES: irs litigation - write brief" etc.)

                  After I've left a message for Sally, I put info about date of message, etc in a note attached to the todo item. (The notes attached to teh todo items get stacked up with the timeline of how the project got done - often useful later.)

                  When my boss comes in and says "Where's Mr. Jones' trust?" I use the search feature on my clie to search for "jones", and can usually spot the item immediately. I'm using that search feature more and more, and have learned that titling the todo items in a uniform manner seems to help alot.

                  Hope that helps.
                  Susan

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