Your To-Do List’s Sexy, Secret Lover

The Waiting For list lets you stay on top of your work, and it will make you infinitely more productive.

When you maintain a list of everything you’re waiting for, you can make sure nothing slips through the cracks, and you can worry a lot less about the things and people you need to stay on top of.

You likely already have a to-do list because if you didn’t, you would have a thousand commitments bouncing around in your head every day. But it’s just as mentally taxing to keep track of everything you’re waiting for.

The ‘Waiting For’ list is one of my favorite parts of the GTD time management system. The list is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a list of everything you’re waiting on at a given time.

If you’re waiting on an important email (or even an unimportant email), you add it to your Waiting For list. Likewise when you’re waiting for a letter, phone call, text message, response to a voicemail, or even a package from eBay.

Then, and this part is crucial, you review your list a few times a week so nothing slips through the cracks.

The list is that simple, but it’s amazingly effective at reducing your stress and making you more productive.

Here are two tips to level up and make your Waiting For list even more powerful:

  1. Group Items by Context I have my list divided into categories like email, Internet things, texts, phone calls, and paper mail. Grouping items by what they are (or by location, like “home”, “office”, and “cottage”) significantly reduces the time it takes you to process, organize and prioritize stuff in the list

  2. Keep Track of How Long You’ve Been Waiting for Something I always jot down the date I started waiting for something. That way I know whether someone is late to get back to me when I look at the list, and I can use that information to politely remind that person to get their stuff together.

I see the Waiting For list as the to-do list’s sexy, secret lover. Sexy, because it works so well; secret, because no one knows about it or uses it; and lover, because the two lists work so well together.