“Those people blessed with the most talent don’t necessarily outperform everyone else. It’s the people with follow-through who excel.”
-Mary Kay Ash
When I asked my networking group colleagues to share their biggest organizing challenge privately with me, an incredible 80% of them said that time organization was their biggest challenge. When I probed further, I learned that their time organization problems generally fell into one of three areas:
finding the time to do what they wanted to do,
taking the time to follow-up, and
dealing with distractions.
Last week’s post talked about how to find the time to do what you want to do. This week, let’s talk about the second area-followingup.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
You go shopping, but leave your purchases in your car when you get home.
You wash your clothes, but leave them piled in wrinkled heaps in the laundry basket.
You receive a form in the mail that you need to fill out, and you leave it on your desk to complete “later.”
You attend a meeting at which you receive some tasks to be done. After the meeting, you immediately head out to your next activity without making a plan for when you’ll actually do those tasks.
Someone expresses interest in buying your product or service. You find their business card in your pocket several weeks later, but can’t remember why you have it.
Most of us are guilty of not following-up from time to time. Sometimes there are no consequences. But sometimes we do reap the consequences of our inaction ̶ spoiled food, the need to iron your clothes, missed deadlines, letting other people down, and loss of potential income ̶ in the above examples.
3 Steps you can take to improve your follow-up skills
Slow Down! Build some transition time into your daily schedule. Give yourself a short break in between activities. Use that break to do tasks that can be completed quickly (such as bringing in the groceries), to schedule a time to complete bigger tasks (such as calling the potential customer), or to capture them in your master to-do list to be done later (such as filling out the form).
Create “Pending Pens” for things needing action. Designate a folder or tray for papers that need your future attention, and a bin or bag for other items that need to be repaired, donated, or returned to their owner. Create an appointment with yourself to follow-up and process the items in the pending pens at a particular time every week.
Delegate when you can. Following-up doesn’t always mean you have to be the one to do the job. Is there someone else in your household or workplace who could do it just as well, or even better than you could? If so, why not enlist their help?
What are your secrets for following up? Please share them! Join the discussion by review button below.
Next week, we’ll finish this series on time organization with a discussion of the challenge of dealing with distractions.
Certified Professional Organizer
Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization
President, Absolutely Organized, LLC (located in Baltimore and Atlanta)
Past President, Institute for Challenging Disorganization