‘Waiting For’ Lists in Mind Maps

Reaching your project goals often depends on other people completing tasks for you- in addition to the other demands on their time. Because both your needs and those of others is dynamically changing all the time, it is easy for a critical task to “fall through the cracks” unless there is adequate follow-up.

GTD systems have a solution for capturing the tasks others are doing for you: the “Waiting For” list. These are the tasks that you have delegated to someone else on a project (and now you are waiting for them to finish).

There are two ways to handle this in a FreeMind|GTD mind map:

  1. Treat the individual as a context
  2. Use a hack on the date field to list the individual under a project

Treating ‘Waiting For’ as a Context

In previous posts, I described how to use the @ symbol notation to denote a context such as @phone (a next action to take when on the phone). You could also use this to denote a next action as being assigned to an individual (for example: @Jeff B).

When a FreeMind mind map with next action markup is processed by FreeMind|GTD, the all the next actions for Jeff B will be grouped together as a context with due dates (when assigned). This is can be useful to make sure you check on Jeff’s status when you sit down together- all the things you need from him are under one heading on the Next Actions list.

Using a Hack to Include ‘Waiting For’ in Projects

Sometimes, it is more convenient to use a project as the context for grouping next actions. This allows you to consider both your own and other’s next actions when you are reviewing a project- there are often natural inter-dependencies that need to be thought about.

In order to do this, use the @ symbol to make your project the context. If you have a deadline for your own next actions, add them with the usual [date] notation. If the next action has been delegated, instead put the individual’s name in the brackets (for example, [Jeff B]). When you run your next action list in FreeMind|GTD, the “waiting for” next actions will have a name associated with them. Here’s an example of a mind map configured this way:

Mind Map with FreeMind|GTD Hack

This gives you a next action list like this:

Next Action List

The key thing is to use whichever method helps you get things done! Note that the above example is actually a hybrid between the two (the 1:1 meeting with Jim is treated as a context).