How do you handle waiting for responses or work from people

How do you handle waiting for responses or work from people.

I’m waiting for a meeting to happen. I’m waiting for someone to bring some work back to me. I want this in my OF so I don’t forget to check back in even though there is no Due Date.

Make a perspective called “Waiting” and put it on hold, and then check it regularly.

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I have a waiting context, with two sub contexts - for and until. Waiting until is something with a date - e.g. When my credit card statement is ready, a meeting, the day train tickets become available for purchase. For is something beyond my control - waiting for my boss to return the book he borrowed, the secretary to return my dentist appointment confirmation, minutes of last week’s meeting, etc.

Waiting For gets followed up on just before my weekly review - and I keep track of when I followed up in the notes field, mostly because I don’t wait to bug everyone about everything every week!

I use an on-hold “Waiting” perspective with an action formatted using the " - " naming convention.

For example, if I were waiting for approval from John Smith to attend a conference in June I would name the action. “John Smith - Approval to Attend June Conference”. I put the date I started waiting into the “Defer Until” field and, if it’s something time sensitive, I’ll also populate the “Due” field so that I’ll be notified if I’m still waiting once that date arrives.

For convenience, I have a perspective called “Waiting” (shortcut key Control+W) that allows me to quickly jump to my waiting list. I group items by project so that I can see what I’m waiting for in next project (and what’s potentially keeping it stuck). As a minimum, I review my waiting list as part of my weekly review.

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Defer and set a due date for when you definitely want to check up on it. Don’t overcomplicate things.

I use a near identical approach to @timstringer, except that my Waiting context isn’t on hold. I have it available so that I can use due dates or flag and defer for things I want to be alerted about.

My Waiting perspective sorts by created date so that I know what’s fresh and what’s stale.

Tim, I’m interested to understand the approach of having the context on hold. How does that setting work for you and your workflow?

Thanks in advance!


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@deturbulence — I set my Waiting perspective to “on-hold” as waiting items, by nature, are passive rather than active. I don’t want them showing up in my list of available actions as this creates unnecessary noise/clutter. If they’re not checked off by the due date I’ve assigned they’ll appear among the overdue items. This prompts me to take whatever action is necessary (e.g. phone the person I’m waiting for). I also review my Waiting perspective as part of my weekly review.


Thanks, @timstringer!

I agree about inactive, and I think that makes more logical sense than what I do. My problem is that my “working” perspective (filtering on available due and flagged) excludes due things that are on hold, which is why I have Waiting as active.

I guess you use the Forecast perspective for due things, then?


Adding my two cents here @deturbulence:

  • I also set my Waiting perspective to on-hold for the same reasons as @timstringer (passive items)
  • I quickly look into it every morning, and sometimes in the afternoon as well
  • It’s grouped and sorted by Defer Date, so I normally only look what is deferred to today
  • I prefer this approach instead of using Due dates; here again Due dates only for things that are really Due
  • If I start postponing an action too much, or if there’s no real date I’m expecting that task to happen I leave the defer date empty, and only care about those tasks when reviewing their projects

@ediventurin - Thanks for sharing more about your use of the Waiting perspective.

To clarify, I don’t put a due date on all Waiting items, only ones where there’s an implication to waiting beyond a certain date. For example, if I were giving a course on Monday and needed information on the setup by Friday I would put a due on the Waiting item, probably with a due time of 12 pm so that I have time to take whatever action is needed.

Also, I always look at my Waiting perspective as part of my weekly review. Sometimes I’ll look at it during the week as well. I can see value in including it in daily reviews.


Thanks @timstringer and @ediventurin for the insights!



Couple of follow up questions on this…

  1. What Project do you assign to (Waiting) actions? My inbox is set such that I have to assign both a project and at least one tag for the item to be “processed”. Do you use a [Waiting] project that is Status = On Hold? Or something different?

  2. If you use something different, how do you keep the (Waiting) tagged items from showing up in available project tasks?

  1. The project should be the project that action is part of. E.g. Project: Monthly Report. Action is: Ask Bob for last month’s figures @Context: Waiting

  2. Put the Context on Hold and exclude that from Perspectives

The easiest for me is to put a periodic reminder every x time to check if the item occurred. It’s hidden until the due date arrives. When it does, I immediately (2 min rule) send a reminder (usually mail) to the person/event I am waiting for and tick the reminder done (it will comeback next period).

This eliminates the need for a different treatment than normal actions and still is not seen until I want to check it

With OF 3, I’ve switched to using a Waiting tag with a custom perspective and a regular task to check it. I use the notes field to record status. Easy. I’m not bothered if a waiting task shows up in an active project though.


I have my Due app set to trigger once in the morning and once in the afternoon to remind me to check my waiting for list.

I also use a “waiting for” tag which is set as active. I always prefix the task with a date as so…

2020-01-04 Waiting for Response from xyz re abc

I do not add a defer or due date so they do not pollute other perspectives

These then show up in my communication perspective which is grouped by tag and sorted by name so it shows them in date order, that way I can see which are getting a bit old and may need action

From the different responses, I guess it amounts to three things

1 We don’t want to forget we are waiting for something
2 We don’t want to see it except when we want it (… that’s common to any task, I guess)
3 Some of us want to see all items we are waiting for together in a list / view / perspective

2 and 3 depends en how each one has set his reviews and perspectives. Contexts, subcontexts, projects specific for ‘waiting for’ items are ways to adjust this.

I personally don’t care about number 3, and my perspectives mainly only show available actions (except weekly reviews), so I just treat waiting for items as any other task.

I use a “Follow up” tag with a perspective that I review periodically to see what I need to follow up on. I set the defer date for follow up items to prevent me from following up too soon. The due date is when I’d like to resolve the task (if needed). For example, even though the task to follow up on might not be done next Tuesday, I might put a due date of Tuesday on it if I know that I will get asked in a meeting on Wednesday about the current status of said item.

When I follow up on the task, if it is complete, I just check it off. If it requires further follow up, I push the dates out if there are any, make sure the task is tagged “Follow up”, and make a note of the fact that I did follow up.

I wrote an Omni Automation script to automate the above process. I haven’t used it much, but it seems to work alright so far. It performs the following on selected tasks:

  1. Pushes the defer and due date out by 7 days. Only does this if those dates exists.
  2. Tags the task with “Follow up”.
  3. Adds “Followed up on today’s date” to the task’s note.

Anyone who is interested in script can find it (and one that generically shifts task dates) here.

I like your method. It’s simple. Though a “Waiting for” task is not really a “task”. It’s a peg. Often I have projects where I emailed somebody with information and the project cannot proceed without approval, or additional information in order to proceed.

Would be nice if there was some built in way to handle a task that in this state. I have a tag that that is “on hold” but I use that for another purpose.