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14 Oct

“Where’s the info I should have had by now?”

Datum: 2009-10-14 11:57

Have you ever delegated a task to someone or have someone promise that they would get back to you with some sort of information you need, forgot that you did, and then, at the very last minute or when it is already too late, discover that you never received the material you desperately need right now?

Here’s a hint to how to never repeat that unpleasant experience ever again.

”Waiting for…”-list

Create a “waiting for…”-list.

On this list you write down things that are ongoing processes and are waiting for further developments in order to move along, such as “Annika will get back to me with a solution before February”, or “Robert will summon us for a new meeting”.

The entries on the list may be information coming from a conversation you had with the person in question where you agreed she was to undertake an assignment. Or, the entry might contain information regarding what the next step in a process, which was discussed in a meeting that had a number of people involved, is.

Since you are in charge of the development of the issue at hand, naturally you will want to keep a close eye on its progress, what you agreed upon and who is assigned to do what.

Where and how?

The list might be a single sheet of paper on your desk or a designated page in your agenda. It can be a document on your computer or be its own category wherever you keep all your different to-do-tasks. Some keep a separate file in their e-mail account where they save all correspondence containing anything regarding, for instance, questions still unanswered or of someone’s promise to provide certain information.

If an agreement was not reached through email correspondence, they send themselves an email where they write what information they are expecting to receive and from who.

If you make your list in a spreadsheet or some other software, you can easily organize the list in accordance with who undertook what task, so that you prior to meeting with Robert or Annika effortlessly can get a general idea of what assignments they each are responsible, for making it easy to check in on them on their progress.

As they gradually get back to you with what you agreed upon, you cross it off the list. In that way, you always have an updated list on all your uncompleted but incoming requests.

Review on a continuous basis

Briefly review your list once a week and consider if you need to remind or urge someone regarding one of the entries on the list. Cross out the completed entries and make additions of any items which have arisen during the week and which are calling for your attention.

Give a moment of thought to what assignments are waiting to be completed right now and who has the responsibility to complete them. Make a list of these and go through it each Friday afternoon. Add new entries and cross out what has been completed during the week. The result of these efforts will be that you will no longer find yourself in the uncomfortable situation of not having the information you need when you need it and be forced to create all kinds of last minute solutions. People to whom you have delegated tasks will get back to you faster and to a greater extent than before since they will notice that you now keep better track of what has been agreed upon. And, in some mysterious way, you will appear to have the memory of an elephant.

How do you do it?

How do you keep track of all the lose ends and make sure nothing gets left behind in projects you are in charge of? Email and tell me. The address is Or, leave a comment below. Your ideas are more than welcome. I may very well try them out myself and share them with others in the same need for structure as you and I.

Listen to this post.