Being a good project leader requires effective delegation. What many of us struggle with, however, is having confidence that the delegated work will get done. This is a great opportunity for our action item log, which can be the ultimate follow-up tool. Simply log each item you delegate as an action item, and flag it as an item you need to follow-up on.
- To follow up by email, filter your Action Items by the person assigned then copy and paste all assigned tasks into a follow-up email to that person. Do this once per week.
- To follow up in person, filter your log by people you are meeting with and, while you have their attention in the meeting, run through their list of actions and update them real-time.
As practice, if you think you can delegate a task, then you probably should. Knowing that you have a reliable way to follow-up can give you the confidence to do so.
There are a lot of methodologies out there for productivity, personal organization and task management. As you develop as a manager, it is worth investigating some of these approaches to develop your own method which works for you and incorporate into the way you mange your Action Items. A couple simple methods that I find useful are time-blocking and time-boxing.
- Time-blocking is simply allocating a block of time during your week (or maybe each day) to focus on action items. During this small block of time (30 minutes max), focus only on maintaining your action item list by completing them or follow-ing up on assigned items.
- Time-boxing is the technique of ruthlessly putting an age limit on your action items. Any item assigned to you which has been stagnant for 2 weeks should be either delegated to someone else or marked as “Indefinitely deferred” and closed. There are exceptions of course, but putting a limit on the age of items helps keep your action items from being a repository of low priority items that you will never do.