Follow-Ups That Work
You can write lists on paper; you can fill in “Action Items” in your diary; you can compile “To-Do” lists in your planner. It’s all an attempt to get yourself organised so you never miss a follow-up action.
The Stress Factor
Some people suffer from “stress”. If you are one of these unlucky people, you will often find that this is simply the accumulation of unhandled action items that you are trying to keep track of in your head. Get enough of those rattling around and you can really feel under pressure!
So, here you are, walking down the corridor towards your office when you suddenly remember something you were supposed to do, but did not write down anywhere. You have just added one more stress factor to your day, because now you have to keep track of THAT item too; at least until you can write it down somewhere.
But if you do write it down, what are you going to do with the piece of paper you write it on? If it’s in your diary, on the correct day’s entry, that will work. But if you just write it on the notepad you keep on your desk, you are still in trouble. At some time you will have to transfer it to something that will keep track of it and remind you when it is due. And now you have to remember to do that transfer.
OK, so what we are talking about is keeping tabs on the things you need to do at some time in the future. Suppose you have just called Bill, a client, who tells you that he is going to be away for a few days, so would you call him back on Tuesday next week. What are you going to do?
- The worst thing you can do is commit it to memory and rely on your own “thinking machine” to keep track of your future follow-ups.
- If you enter this information into a database, against that particular client’s details and then flag it with a follow-up date of Tuesday next week, you can then forget about it.
There are several major benefits that arise from getting it into a database:
- You get a reminder on Tuesday next week (from the database) that you have to call Bill. It tells you why you have to call him, plus it will give you Bill’s phone numbers and email address. You will also have all the other notes and reference material that you and others have written about previous contact with Bill. You are not flying blind when you call him now.
- Other people can see that you have a follow-up scheduled with Bill for Tuesday, so they can act accordingly, without having to bother you about it.
- When you have done your call to Bill, you can write up the information that summarises the call and store it in a note attached to Bill’s database record, so you and others can view the history of your dealings with Bill.
- You don’t have to clutter YOUR stress-prone existence with yet another item that has a critical time-tag on it
From a database standpoint, this is all very easy. Any activity, like phone calls, emails sent, documents created, or to-do actions scheduled are all stored neatly with the Contact person’s details. Any authorised person can look at all this information.
In addition to that, authorised people can also look at the follow-ups and past actions for any employee in the group with any client in the database. In this way you will see how well they are handling their activities. The follow-up action may pop up in the system as a reminder for someone to perform, but if they don’t do it (or don’t even look at the reminder), then they will not be completing their to-do actions and this will be all too visible.
There’s too much potential stress in this world as it is. Don’t keep adding more by trying to keep track of your past, present and future activities yourself. Automate it! A good database will do it with style and ease.