Did you get that done yet?
November 22, 2010 4:18 AM   Subscribe

How do you keep track of other people's to-do's? I have a lot of people who report indirectly into me or who have to supply me with answers to questions. What is your system for keeping track of all of the things that other people have to do? How do you track deadlines or things that are late? Help me create a group to-do list.
posted by jasondigitized to Work & Money (11 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
On my daily to-do list, I reserve a section for "things I'm expecting" annotated by the initials of whose responsibility it is. When I get it, I check it off. At the end of the day, I can review the list and see immediately what's overdue and from whom.
posted by DrGail at 4:44 AM on November 22, 2010

Project-based task lists have always worked best for me. For each major project, I keep a high-level plan (usually a simple spreadsheet or word doc table) outlining the key areas that need to be covered. Each of these areas has a list of actions with a column for current status. Status may be "Awaiting answers from [person's initials]." I usually just put the due date in a comments column, but could add a column for due date. Overdue tasks get red font.

The project-based approach helps me see contingencies and chase those overdue items that are going to cause the most trouble.
posted by evilmomlady at 5:10 AM on November 22, 2010

I keep it on my TODO list in a "WAIT" category. I also have a "WAIT" tag in GMail. I check up on it a couple times a week and send various reminders around when necessary.
posted by kryptonik at 5:15 AM on November 22, 2010

Various companies make "task tracking" software that allows you to list tasks, assign them to different users, give them due dates and generate reports. People can add updates to the tasks, mark them as completed and so on.

I can't think of the proper word for this software; in the software industry it's "bug tracking software", maybe someone else can give you a better search term for something more generic.

FogBugz is one fairly well known example. BaseCamp is another.
posted by emilyw at 5:17 AM on November 22, 2010

Yeah, Basecamp is what my workplace uses for this. You can add "milestones" in it for due dates, which will automatically email the "owner" of each due date 48 hours before it's due, and which go red after the due date has passed and they haven't been checked off. And you can create spreadsheet-like tables within writeboards that you can use to let everyone see the status of the various pieces of a project, with columns for their due date, notes on who you're still waiting on input from, etc. (And version tracking, so you can see who broke the spreadsheet with a bad update...)

You could do all of this with a calendar and Excel spreadsheets, or pen and paper, or maybe Google Calendar and Docs, but I think Basecamp makes project tracking and notification easier.
posted by limeonaire at 6:03 AM on November 22, 2010

Seconding bug-tracking software for this. My company uses JIRA. A free option is Bugzilla, but I have always heard really bad things about it.
posted by falameufilho at 8:10 AM on November 22, 2010

WebCollab is a great open-source solution for this. It's not as pretty visually as Basecamp and their ilk, but it works great (and is free).
posted by jbickers at 8:18 AM on November 22, 2010

For project work, I keep a combined journal in Excel with a worksheet for all sorts of things, including Action Items. This is the log I would put those things in. There's a column for the date the action is identified, a description of the action, its status (Open, Closed, Pending) who's responsible for doing it, when it needs to be done, a calculated field showing how long the action has been open, and any comments or notes.

This, along with worksheets for risks, decisions, Q&A, Issues, and a super-anal-retentive journal logging every email and conversation related to the project round it out. I can't imagine working without it. MeMail me if you'd like the template.
posted by bluejayway at 10:42 AM on November 22, 2010

2nding the "waiting" category in a to do list. I keep my todos in Excel, so it's easy to sort/filter, and make sure to include the last thing I did on the item and the date, e.g. "Emailed Behar 11/19 re: apples". I just append this to the "what" field. This way, it's easy to see if I've been waiting too long and need to nudge again.
posted by momus_window at 12:21 PM on November 22, 2010

If you have Microsoft Outlook the Task tool is great for checking off daily reminders. You can set reminder for daily, weekly, monthly and even set reminder to pop up an alarm if you have Outlook minimized in your system tray throughout the day.
posted by sandyp at 5:31 PM on November 22, 2010

If it's "just" waiting for replies for email and you use Outlook on Windows then the paid for version of ClearContext.com is awesome. It has this feature called follow up that when you send an email it adds a task for a response (and auto closes the task if the person does send a response so it cleans up as it goes). It has lots of other goodies but this is one of the features that got me to pay for it.
posted by Spumante at 12:59 AM on November 23, 2010

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