13 February 2010

Dealing in real time...

I like to work with fixed dates. If I know something is due on February 23rd, then I can work towards the date and prioritize all my work accordingly. The way I like to do that is by creating a timeline to-do list of everything I need to do to get everything done by the required date. If it is a big project I use a calendar and write down all my required to-dos on the dates I need to get them done to make my deadline. I’m a visual person so it really helps me to plan my way to my goal. There are different styles of to-do lists and you can use the one that suits your work style and the type of project you are doing, but the main thing is to have one.

By the same token, I appreciate it when someone lets me know by when they will have something for me and if they can’t have it done by that date, then I like it when they get back to me to say when I can expect it. That way I can do a proper tracking as I have a date to work with.

So that is what I like, but it isn’t always what I get. If I am told that I should have it in the next few weeks, or can expect to receive it in a couple of months, that doesn’t really help me with my follow up as it is not a definite date. I can only guess when I might get it. I would prefer they say you will have it by March 4th. That I can track.

Dates are important. Once I have a date I can put it in my Tasks and run with it. I use my Tasks extensively and when I receive an e-mail telling me they will have something to me or if I make a request of someone, I drag the e-mail in my Tasks and set a reminder when I need to follow up.

Think about it the next time you give someone a timeline. Are you vague or exact? It will be appeciated if you are firm and take responsibility for your timelines.

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