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Converting 'waiting on' items
Merlin Mann | May 16 2005
I’m curious about how GTD fans handle their “waiting on” items. I’ve decided to try something a bit different in my own setup, and I’m wondering if others have done something similar with any success.
Currently, I have an Entourage category called “waiting on” that I assign to any item for which I’m anticipating a response from someone. This might be an email I need answered, login info for a website, an answer to a contract question, or what have you. As I’ve said elsewhere, this is when an item is “likely to require action when its sender gets back to you.” It’s also where I tend to put stuff that I’m keeping an eye on, although more and more, I’m inclined to move long-term non-actions to my “maybe later” list.
Anyhow, something bugs me about a separate “waiting on” list. As I’ve hinted before, it feels slack to me to have a passive list of things that I regard as other peoples’ responsibility. I’ve enjoyed having a separate “waiting on” category because it has made it easier to filter out “next actions” views in Entourage, but, when I think about it, it feels especially slack to let myself keep these items out of my view—like it’s really not my problem.
So, I’ve decided to experiment with blending all my “waiting on” items into my “next actions” list, but with a twist; each item has been given a due date and a reminder that reflects the date by which I need some movement from the other person. (Obviously, this could also be done with your tickler file, which probably makes more sense.)
For example, “get draft from Jim” has become “Email Jim for progress on draft” and it’s dated for next Wednesday. I can still forget about it in the short-term, but now there’s a useful landmine there to ping me. And, if Jim gets on the stick and sends me the draft before then? I can just delete the reminder—now or whenever it pops up.
So, has anyone else made a move like this? Consolidated your non-action stuff into more concrete actions of your own? Got any good tips or ideas to share?
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