Questions as Actions

I’m curious if anyone writes questions as an action and files them away in a context?

Sometimes I need to confirm things. I type these far too often:

Follow-up with…
Get answer from…
Confirm …

I was debating on using a Confirming context that is active vs using a Waiting context that is on hold.

Example of Current Setup
Context: People
Action: Confirm: Project Complete

Example of Possible Setup
Context: Confirming
Action: Is the project complete?

With the current setup, I could easily click Context : People and search Confirm to see all of the actions that need confirming. On the other hand, I could apply a question to a context then click that context without searching. Does anyone take this approach to some degree?

I’m not really sure what you mean by “apply a question to a context”. Do you mean that you would phrase the action text in the form of the question that you need confirmed and then assign it the context “Confirm”?

If so, it seems like the only thing that you get from that is not having to type “confirm” or “ask”… And you lose the ability to identify (either in the action title or the context) the person from whom you need to get the confirmation, which means that as you scan through your list of questions you might have to think each time about who is the right person to ask. That would be problematic for me.

Personally, I have a “People” context with sub-contexts for many of my co-workers and family members. The idea is that if I need to ask someone something in person, I would create an action titled “Ask [so-and-so] [question…]” and assign it the right person’s context. That way, when I am with that person, I could just ask that person all the questions I had.

In practice, though, I find that I don’t use it very much. It is a pain to manage all of the sub-contexts and most of my questions end up going out by e-mail anyway. So, instead, I find that I create the same type of actions (i.e., “Ask [so-and-so] [question…]”) but assign it a context like “Phone” or “E-mail,” depending on how I plan to ask the question. If I asked it by e-mail and am waiting for a response, I mark that action complete and then create a new “Waiting” action titled something like “Waiting for [so-and-so] to respond about [question…]”.


Context: Confirming
Action: Is the project complete? / Will Jane attend the concert? / What was John’s answer?

The action will live in a project or a name will be mentioned in the action in order to be identified and searchable.

This is where I was torn. I’m either going to try a Confirming context or continue my habit of writing the following with a Waiting context.

Context: Waiting
Action: Follow-up with… / Get answer from… / Confirm …

I’m mainly curious if anyone else challenges the Waiting / On Hold approach.

It’s probably redundant to have a Waiting and a Confirming context since they are pretty much doing the same thing.

Waiting: On Hold
Confirming: Active

There is something that throws me off at times when I have a Waiting / On Hold context. I am waiting for a person to respond, but it’s still active to me. I’m not going to be waiting for more than a couple days. I guess it’s all personal preference in the end.

I will probably ditch the Confirming and stick with the traditional Waiting / On Hold approach. I can’t justify having both Waiting / Confirming at this point.

They seem pretty different to me, but maybe I still don’t what you mean by “Confirming” (some of your suggested questions seem more open-ended than simple confirmations – e.g., “What was John’s answer?”). As to the distinctions, for active actions, there is still some action that I need to take right now (i.e., ask the person the question). For waiting actions, I am just waiting on a response. The waiting action is only in the system to make sure it doesn’t slip through the cracks if the person fails to respond or to keep any dependencies unavailable (e.g., in a project or action group with sequential actions).

I don’t really see the value in trying to merge them. It’s important for me to be able to distinguish between questions that I still need to ask and questions that I have already asked and am just waiting on a response. If the waiting actions will needs a follow-up at some future point if I don’t get a response, I usually assign the waiting action a start or due date.

@twangus I appreciate your input on this subject. I noticed my Confirming idea was the same as Waiting. For instance, Waiting: “Wait for John to call back” versus Confirming: “Did John call back?” I decided to go back to using Waiting and even assign due date to an action if I need an answer from someone by a certain date.