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

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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