Call Sheets in Task Management

The Problem

Back in the old analogue days, I liked to have a call sheet.  This was a glorified spreadsheet where my assistant would log messages - I would take the form to my office, and return all of the calls - marking each returned call as "Complete" on the call sheet.  This was a far cry better than the little pink message slips (I wonder if anyone was ever terminated on a "Missed Call" pink slip?), but it was still clunky.  More than once a message came in for me while I had the call sheet in my office.

More recently, my messages have been emailed to me.  There are several problems with this method - they tend to add up, and they can be difficult to track in email.  Additionally, it can be difficult to document when (or if) those messages were returned.  But many Task Management Apps can help in this situation.

The Solution

Many Task Management Apps can help in this situation.  Omnifocus (and other apps like Asana, Nozbe, etc.) provides the user with a unique email address that sends tasks directly into the task app's "Inbox."  The email address may look something like "<username>.1a2b3c@sync.omnigroup.com"  I've shared this with my assistant (and my student office workers) with very simple instructions - "When you take a phone message for me, send the message to my Omnifocus email address."  If your staff or colleagues add your task-email address to a contact (like OmniScott), they can easily and quickly shoot an email to your task-inbox.

Tips and Tricks

  • Consistent Subject Lines: I like for the subject line to be consistent (Consider Re: PM - Name, Phone #) and for the rest of the content to be in the message area of the email.  That helps when I see it in my inbox in Omnifocus; and I process it like any other task.
  • Call Sheet Project: I have a single action list called "Call Sheet" where I process the PMs into.  It's a fast and easy way to ensure that I have all of the information I need to get phone calls returned, and to document that they have been returned.
  • Similar (not really) Solutions: I've seen several other solutions like this (i.e. a shared Evernote notebook, or a shared project in Trello or Podio), but there's a snag.  The more places I have to look for tasks, the better the chance I'll miss something.  I prefer to have one inbox for all tasks that I need to process, which saves me from having to look elsewhere in another system for things that need to be addressed.
  • Macnerds: If you're on a mac, and you have an iPhone, and you've updated to Yosemite, you can make calls directly from your computer using the Continuity feature.  I hardly reach for my phone at work anymore - it sits in my pocket and I run through my call list from the keyboard and mouse.
Posted on December 3, 2014 and filed under Task Management.