Promises – A Productivity Hole

hole-normal_p1010044.jpgI am working on a project that involves multiple promises being made in every direction, and I am struck by an area of my own system for productivity that is underdeveloped.  While it’s not a time management issue, per se, it does appear to be a problem that results in wasted time.

What do you do when someone makes you a promise that you need to make sure they fulfill?

Here are some options I have seen or tried in the past, none of which I am altogether happy with.


Once the initial promise is made, what exactly happens next?  Is it committed to memory, with a hope that things won’t get so crazy that it then gets forgotten?

Or do you send an email to the person (if you can) as a way of putting the promise in writing?

Is it written onto a capture point like a paper pad?

Do the above actions depend on the person who is making the promise and your prior experience?  I have used good Promise Management software to help me in this regard, but it requires proximity to a computer and the intranet.  There may be PDA-based promise management software, but I haven’t found any yet.


Whatever enters a capture point must at some point be removed, in keeping with good time management habits.  A promise is a bit difficult to work with, however, as I can’t see a perfect place to out this particular time demand.

Option A:  After Emptying, add it to a list (Listing)

A user could maintain a list of items that have been promised by others, and track the list frequently to ensure that  no promises are being forgotten.  This action of checking the list would have to be placed in a schedule to ensure that it actually gets reviewed, also.

Option B: After Emptying, place a reminder in a schedule (Scheduling)

Place an item in the schedule that acts as a reminder to expect the item by a particular due date.  The item would also need a reminder for this to work, so that it pops up and interrupts the action at the right moment in time.

Neither of these options are elegant, in my opinion, and I’d love to learn some other alternatives.

This strikes me as a hole in my productivity system, and it’s one that I think many share, and would love to solve.