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Converting 'waiting on' items

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.

As I spend more time with Getting Things Done, I try to simplify wherever I can. Where I once generated dozens of different lists, I now try keep everything in just a few places (thanks, Spotlight!).

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?

Punkey's picture

I do exactly the same...

I do exactly the same thing. One thing that bugged me about GTD, as a projectmanager, is you hand the responsibility to answer your email to someone else. Now, that is not a bad thing. But face it, my clients have other things to do than keep track of my emails alone. So every now and then, They need a little reminder. I set the due date on Tasks or when something really has a hard deadline, I put it on my agenda a few days before. For instance, some decisions to get a project moving again and not losing milestones or important deadlines. It helps, every now and again. But what ticks me now, is during the reviewphase (every two or three days, not weekly...) I really have to think: "Did he answer me?" "Has she called?" and think about the NA then. So now, I am moving into a phase where I am ticking off @Waiting items when they occur and immediately put on the NA.

It sure helps to simplify, but man...that's hard!




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