To become more productive one of the most important things you can do is to set up a system for managing your tasks and projects. There is no one perfect system that works for everyone. It’s a continued process of refinement and figuring out what serves you best in your life.
Right now, I am experimenting with a new system. It has many of the same elements that I’ve used in the past but will hopefully allow me to focus more on important needle moving tasks and be more efficient with all the other need to get done tasks. I’ll be sharing the results of this experiment in the future.
But today, I want to focus on one piece that has been in my system for years with great results.
The WaitingFor List
This is a list of everything I have delegated to people or need more information on from others before proceeding. I go through the list and see if any items are overdue or if I need to know the progress on an item. I will send an email about these items to the person responsible to gently encourage them to move it along. Also, I make sure to schedule a reminder about when to follow-up on the progress for every task on my WaitingFor list.
I first heard of this concept from David Allen’s Getting Things Done system back when I was in high school and it has been a part of my system since. I even mentioned it in my book How to Conduct a Weekly Review.
This is the perfect tool for making sure you know what tasks are being held up by others or which ones you need to reach out to help move them along. In my old system this list was under @WaitingFor so that it was always towards the top of my project lists.
For me, I am effectively using the WaitingFor list when it is one of the first things I check each morning right after I wrap up my morning routine. Why do I check it right away? Since, these are tasks that require other people take action I want to know if any are in danger of falling behind. If someone else who is responsible for getting me information or completing a task is slow on getting back to me that can threaten to derail my timeline for completing the project. Likely the tasks in your WaitingFor list are a small part in a much bigger, important project and I want to do everything in my power to ensure that this project has the best chance of success.
If a WaitingFor task is potentially overdue or close to it, I’ll often reach out to that person right away in the day or schedule a new task to reach out to them when I am batch processing emails.
Try starting your own WaitingFor list. It’s had some major benefits for me, not only has it helped me be more effective in getting things done but it helps bring you piece of mind.