Follow up emails without replies in Gmail

(Part of our Organize Gmail Into An Effortless Task Manager guide)

Learn how to waste less time getting a reply from people, and clear out the blockages in your communication.

Often, sending an email is akin to spending precious minutes drafting a plea for rescue, and then screaming it into the wind from a desert island... It may reach the ears of a passing ship, or it may be lost into the air forever.

Instead of worrying about whether or not you got a reply - or even what that thingamajig was that you sent last week - you can keep track of everything until you get a response.

In Getting Things Done, David Allen writes, "You'll get a great feeling when you know that your Waiting On list is the complete inventory of everything you care about that other people are supposed to be doing". In other words, you'll be a master delegator.

Track emails you need a reply to

  1. When you've written an email and you want to make sure you can track when the recipient replies, click the Waiting Until button at the bottom
  2. ActiveInbox offers a selection of common 'Waiting Until' dates to choose from or you can open the pop-out calendar and choose one from there
  3. If you'd like to cancel the reminder if the recipient replies, just put a tick next to 'Cancel if they reply'
  4. You can even add a Sub Task to remind yourself exactly what it is you're waiting for
  5. When you're done, click the Send button as normal

Being reminded it's time to follow up

  1. When 'Waiting Until' emails become due, they'll appear in your Today list together with any extras - for example, Sub Tasks.

Chasing up all things you're blocked on

  1. Once a week, it's worth checking your Waiting On master list and pinging anyone who hasn't replied in the last couple of days.

Tips

What is the difference between Waiting On reminders and Due Dates?

Essentially, Due Dates mean “I have to complete this by day X, keep my attention on it as it approaches”. Whereas Waiting On reminders mean “This item is blocked, keep it off my mind until they do something, or it's time to follow them up".

You can apply both. For example, if you need to complete something by next Wednesday you could set a due date for then. But to help you complete it, you have to get information from a colleague, and so you send them an email and add a Waiting On reminder for tomorrow.

I’ve received a reply, and had checked ‘Cancel if they reply’, but why is it still in my Waiting On list?

ActiveInbox only removes the Waiting status when you actually open the email - to ensure you’ve definitely seen it.