How to automatically track and close open-loops in your business


One of the biggest inhibitors to increased productivity and output for many of us are the open loops we have with others.  All of us are dependent on countless others to get our jobs done, to close business, to further our objectives.  We’re daily delegating tasks or making requests of others to feed into what we’re trying to accomplish.

It’s easy to shoot out an email or have a conversation with someone that asks for follow-up or a quick contribution.  What’s more difficult is remembering that same request when the follow-up doesn’t happen.  So how do you keep track of everything you’ve asked for from others?

One thing I do, which I learned first from David Allen, is to keep a “Waiting For” folder in my inbox.  It’s populated entirely with “open loop” emails for which I’m waiting for a response.  When I send out emails that require a response, I’ll blind copy myself.  I have a rule set in Outlook such that any blind self-copy goes into this folder. 

I can then review this folder on a periodic basis to see who’s followed up already (in which case the email is deleted) or who still owes me something (in which case they get an email, phone or live follow-up).

The last thing I want to do is keep track of those open loops in my head.  It’ll drive me crazy, and keep me from thinking about the next thing that’s more important for me to spend time on right now.  But I still need reminders, and this is a simple way to build that list without any extra work.