I’m not sure why I’ve never thought of this before, and I’m sure there must be a flaw with it, but I’ve just been struck by what I hope could be a much more elegant approach to tracking things you’re Waiting On.
A separate ‘Waiting On’ status requires effort
In our support account, we have three statuses: L1 and L2, and Waiting On. And of course there are deadlines. (You know you can make custom statuses right? Just add a new label to Gmail starting with !, e.g. !L1).
If something is critical, we’ll put it in L1. When Lisa or I then reply to it, and we need a response, we move it from L1 to Waiting On.
Have you spotted the problem yet? Sure you have, you’re a smart cookie 🙂 When someone replies, we have to move it back to a status for us to do. Not only is this a tedious step in itself, we have to remember which status it used to belong to… Was it L1? Or L2?
It’s simple, we kill the ‘Waiting On’
So, here’s my proposal…
We dispose of the ‘Waiting On’ status altogether, and we use the last person to reply to decide whether it’s To Do or Waiting On.
E.g. you add something to ‘Action’, or a deadline… and the Active Results splits into 2 sections: ‘To Do’ and ‘Waiting On’.
If you replied last, ActiveInbox automatically puts it in the ‘Waiting On’ section; or if they replied to you, it puts it into your ‘To Do’ section.
Is there a situation where an email you replied to is still an action for you?
E.g. if someone emails support, and I fire a response to say “I’ll get back to this in a few days”, AIB would now assume it’s Waiting On the contact (because I was the last to reply), when in fact it’s still for me to do.
- How would the Review Bar decide what the ‘to do’ count is for a status like ‘Action’? Is it all active items? Or is it all items for me To Do? I think this is easy, it’s all active items (To Do + Waiting On).
Another way: Waiting On augments other statuses
I think problem #1 might be a deal breaker.
Another idea is to make ‘Waiting On’ a status that doesn’t cause other statuses to be removed.
So, you’d add an email to L1. And if you send a reply that needs a response, you add Waiting On, and the email would be ‘L1 + Waiting On’ (rather than removing L1, as it does now). Basically similar to above, but Waiting On is still a manual choice.
And to save you time, there could be an option that when/if they reply, Waiting On is automatically removed.
Over to you…
Does this problem resonate with anyone else? Where’s the pain for you?
This was written by Andy Mitchell