I had to send a document today via inter-office mail. I needed the recipient to mark up the copy with any changes. I thought this might be a good time to write about both sending good inter-office notes as well as how I track “Waiting For” items in TiddlyWiki.
You’ll notice in the example below 4 things:
- Dated: I always try to write today’s date in top right-hand corner. This lets the recipient know that I’m aware of when I sent it. It’s also a note for them of how long a particular item has been open.
- Recipient’s Name: I get stuff sent to me that doesn’t really belong to me. Some of it is sent by accident. By including my intended recipient’s name I know they will eventually get it even if it gets routed to someone else.
- Clear and Direct Action: Briefly describe exactly what the recipient needs to do for you. This keeps them from having to think about it. Even if they don’t do GTD, they still have a definite next action.
- My Name: I absolutely hate getting inter-office mail and I don’t know who sent it. Let people know who to contact if they have questions.
- My Phone Extension: If I’m sending to someone via inter-office mail then they are probably doing something for me (or I’m returning something that I worked on or them). If they have any questions, I want to make it as easy as possible for them to contact me. By including my extension on the note, I save the recipient from having to spend time looking it up.
Once I’ve sent something out, I need to track the fact that I’m waiting on someone else to do something. In TiddlyWiki I have a tiddler called @WorkWaiting. All of the items that I am waiting for are in this one tiddler. I use a bullet point for each item, the subject is bold, and my notes are superscripted. Here is some sample code:
*''Bob: Review eNewsletter''
^^I sent to him via interoffice mail on 12/13.^^
And it appears like this when I view it.
Here are a few notes about how I handle Waiting For items:
- All In One Tiddler: I see no need to keep a separate tiddler for each item I’m waiting for. They are easier to handle if they are all in one. (I have kept this example down to just one for the sake of brevity.)
- Start with the Contact: The first thing in the item is the name of the person or company that I’m waiting on followed by a colon.
- What I’m Waiting On: The name is followed by a short statement of exactly what I asked the person to provide.
- Notes:My first note is always when I made the request and the method (conversation, phone call, voice mail, email, IM, inter-office, etc…) that I used to make the request. As I get correspondence from my contact about the request, I’ll update my notes. For example, Bob may email that he will be traveling on Thursday and plans to review this on the plane. I’ll add that to the notes. When he gets it back to me he may only have reviewed part of it. I’ll note that and send it back to him to finish—making a note for myself of when I returned it and why.
So, there’s not a lot of magic or heavy duty logic in this, but I think you’ll find a lot of common sense and courtesy. If you have ideas for improving on either of these, please leave a comment.
Note: I don’t know how much more TiddlyWiki stuff I’ll post here, but I have added a TiddlyWiki category for those of you who are primarily interested in how I use TiddlyWiki. I’ll be tagging all my previous TiddlyWiki related entries with this category. Hopefully it won’t add them all to the RSS feeds again. My apologies if it does.