One of the key characteristics that separates those who are seen as organized and those who aren’t is the skill a person has at following up. It is one thing to create a to-do list and accomplish daily tasks, but another thing altogether to be able to keep track of what needs to have repeated attention.

I’ll bet half of the things that I do require me to do follow up work on them. I call or email someone but need to wait for their reply. I order supplies but need to ensure that they arrive and are in good condition. I contract with a caterer but need to review the confirmation and ensure the details are correct. I submit a proposal but need to follow up to see if I am hired. And on it goes.

It is tempting to make that initial effort and cross the item off the to-do list, but that is only a fraction of the task. A system for follow up is required to clear it off your “do now” focus, but to keep the item alive on your radar.

The way I keep track is with the magic word of “pending”. I put a P in a circle (like the © copyright C only with a P) next to the item rather than deleting it. I keep a separate list of pending items that I check every few days to see if anything needs to have follow up from me. I add follow up reminders on specific dates about important items. As much as I love crossing things off, I refrain from doing so until they are complete, not just started.

Don’t just take the first step of what you have to accomplish. Use the power of the “P” to ensure that you reach the finish line on your tasks.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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