Living in a hectic world isn’t always easy, we have many important things which compete for our time every day and while you can be well organized and attentive to task. It doesn’t mean others upon which you depend on for success feel or operate in the same way and is the reason we have to continually invest in “follow-up”.
How much time do you “invest” on follow-up each day? Does it grow over time as the general working population finds itself with more and more things to do? Does this make it a “viral” task, as the more follow-up you send, the more “follow-up” is created downstream?
With this I don’t know about you, however I seem to find myself spending the majority of my time as what I’ve come to refer to as “Follow Up Freddy“. This where an abnormal amount of time is spent on the “tasks” of follow-up rather than completing new work. As part of a non-scientific study, my typical follow-up count is three about (3) communications per task on average. So for the sake of conversation if there are 10 tasks,30 follow up communications will be required to keep on task in addition to the original request which kicked things off.
In essence we see a “rubber-banding” effect within the task where it’s priority from the delegated party appears to slip. Note, it’s hard to tell definitely the reason for the shift in importance as it may have many drivers. The key is to optimize the message along with the follow-up timing to maximize attention (from the delegated party) while avoiding a premature escalation which makes it look like your simply crying wolf all of the time.
Also I have struggled to find a good software App which helps me manage my follow-up and tasking. Have tried many different one over the years, however I still keep going back to writing them in a notebook (highly recommend Moleskin or Conceptum) one per line as an open thought meaning. It’s “loose” which keep my massive list of 30 or so items everyday fluid so I can work them into other tasks instead of them becoming a task.
An example would be, say I’m sending Bob an e-mail for a new project and notice on my follow-up list that he also owes me an answer for another question. Instead of sending two mails, I’m able to be blend the two together, so Bob gets one mail, I only type one mail and it avoids the appearance of crying wolf.
What are some of your ideas or best practices for managing follow-ups? Also what software or other tools are you using to manage the chaos?