Tracking Action & Waiting For Emails

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Steve Savanna, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. Steve Savanna

    Steve Savanna Registered

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    Hi -

    Question on best practices for managing action and waiting for emails. I have a large email volume everyday, often with quick responses needed. I’ve struggled with using my email application (Outlook) to manage my emails as David recommends or creating actions and waiting for’s in my task manager.

    A specific area I struggle with is how to track emails that i need to respond to but first require a response from a staff member. Example: Client sends me an email asking for the status of the proposal. I need to respond to this but i’ll need to ask my account manager first before responding to the client. Once I have my acc manager’s response i can then respond to my client. Would the best practice be to put the client email in my Action folder and then put my email to my account manager in my Waiting For folder? The only challenge there is that when I look at my Action folder I now have emails that need my response but are waiting on other people first.

    Is this the standard way people track these types of emails or is there a better method?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    It sounds like you have at least three categories of emails, so if you're tracking them in Outlook (I don't) it seems logical to have three folders. That raises the question of what to call the third folder. Research? Pending Research? Waiting For Waiting For?
     
  3. Steve Savanna

    Steve Savanna Registered

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    Yes - this is my challenge. I've tried for years to determine the best method for managing this. I'm certain this is a common situation so I'm interested to know how others in this situation manage this.
     
  4. Bert Kruisdijk

    Bert Kruisdijk Registered

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    I can recommend Sanebox.

    Input
    It is able, looks like AI, to sort out the Inbox in Actual and Later and you can train some folders yourself

    Output
    It contains functionality to track email you are Waiting for a response. It returns back to the selected folder after x days of no response. If you use fe “FYI” in the subject it will not be tracked for response.

    If you are using Apple Max mail app there is also a tool from SmallCube (Mailtags and Mail Acton) where you can build the same folder structure. Please find below my mail folders for reference:

    Wachten op = Waiting for
    Nieuws = Newsletters


    AB0E35A5-D2C8-489C-AA7B-2406904D1462.png
     
  5. RS356

    RS356 Practicing GTD since 2005

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    I also use Outlook for email, with my folders set up as the GTD guides recommend: Action Support, Waiting For, and Archive. I track the actions I need to take on these emails in my task manager; having to look at both a next actions list and an email folder has never worked for me. It's perfectly fine for me to have both current and future actions in my Action Support folder - my task manager points me to the correct email. The Action Support folder is, by definition, reference to assist me in carrying out an action.

    In the example you describe, I too handle many requests that require the input of others. I treat these as projects. Most are completed within a day, but the GTD process still applies.

    I'll often emergency scan my email and handle urgent items on the go. In the moment, I may not have time to file them into the appropriate folders, but I will get my inbox to zero every 24-48 hours. Outlook's conversation view is great when going through my inbox - it shows what I've already replied to, and whether I've received a response. Many issues have already been handled by the time I actually sit down to process!
     
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  6. bproffitt1010

    bproffitt1010 Registered

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    I have recently moved e-mails to a "Needs Action" folder when the response needed is longer than a quick reply. When I do send a response that requires follow up, I move the sent item I wrote to the Needs Action folder. I work this folder every day to see what I can act upon. It works well for me.
     
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  7. alteredbeast

    alteredbeast Registered

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    Steve, similar challenge here. The way I would approach your example in Outlook is as follows. This is based on the feeling of confusion and loss of control with managing circa 1,000 emails a week across many projects.

    1. Email Account Manager. Each email I send gets copied into my inbox. Immediately move this email to the Waiting folder

    2. Use Quick Step that attaches client email as an appointment and set due as today. Subject is Waiting Update Client ABC PROJECT XYZ update. In the appointment body note email in step 1 if needed. This is effectively a tickler item

    Not seamless but the closest I've come to a stress free one.
     
  8. Stefan Godo

    Stefan Godo GTD Connect

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    My 1step way of handling such situations:

    1. you create a Rule to move all incoming emails containing you as sender and you BCC to your "waiting for" folder.
    2. forward the email from the client to your colleague, requesting input, put yourself BCC.
    voila email just appears in "waiting for"

    3 do not forget to check "waiting for" daily

    works for any email sent, where you wait for answer/reaction...

    best
    Stefan

    obviously, you could simplify even this, where you put a specific sign at the end of any sent email, where you expect answer (e.g. ALT64, standing for °, ALT14 for "♫", etc :) Then create a rule for your sent mail folder, searching for the sign and moving it to "waiting for".
     
  9. KW7

    KW7 Registered

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    You might make the request emails to an administrator set to "high importance" in Outlook and then include that condition (i.e. high importance) in your Outlook rule. I have a simple rule that moves a copy of a sent message with high importance to a PENDING folder in Outlook. I use this when I ask clients or internal employees for documents or to perform various tasks. This way I can track what hasn't been done and the date of the request. I check it several times during the week to see if what I've requested of others is completed, in process, or requires some "encouragement" to be completed.
     
  10. Mark Eost

    Mark Eost Registered

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    Am I missing something. Why can't you just use the follow up flag on your outgoing email. That way you can set a follow up date when you want or need a response. This will sit in your Outlook task list until you complete the task, after you have your colleague response and have answered your customers question.
     
  11. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    1. As you have an on-going relationship with this client, add this client to your Outlook-contacts
    2, Forward your client's email to the acct mgr with your instructions at the top. Before you send, Click Options > More Options ; In the "Contacts..." field, add the client. This is a way to keep track of emails ABOUT someone who is not a recipient of such emails. You might also check the Request and Read delivery receipt options.
    3. Before you click send, do a CTRL+A to make a copy of the text body, then send
    5. For follow up with the Account manager today, create an Outlook appointment - CTRL_Shift+A, in the contacts for the calendar add your client and the account manager -do a CTRL+P to paste the email body in the task body
    4. As a fail-safe, create an Outlook task - CTRL_Shift+K, in the contacts for the task add your client and the account manager -do a CTRL+P to paste the email body in the task body
    6. Move the client's email from you inbox to the designated folder. I use a "Received" folder for just about everything.

    7. Is there anything else you want to communicate to this client? I keep a list of low-priority, non-urgent things to discuss with clients in the free-form text field of their Outlook contact card. (i.e. "Last time we talked you said your daughter was deciding what college to go to? Did she decide to go to Harvard?) BTW, when I talk to a client, I make notes and record them as a meeting on my Outlook calendar.
    8. Do a search for this client in "All Outlook Items" this will bring up all email to or about this client (per the technique in step #2) and all notes from meetings and calls (per technique in step #7) I wrote another VB script to do this faster so I can do it on the fly when a client calls me.


    If your account manager does not respond to your mail by your designated time, you'd follow up with a conversation :)

    I posted on this forum somewhere a VB script that asks me if I want to create task or appointment for every outgoing message I send. If I choose to do this, it creates a HTML link between the task/appointment and my outgoing email.
     

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