We have all been here before.

You’re messaging a friend you haven’t seen in ages about a potential meet-up and after a few exchanges of “hi, how are you?” to some updates on life, and the need to “catch up”, the conversation ends at “yeah, let’s meet up soon!” What’s soon? A day from now? A week from now? Two weeks? Four months?

OR

You finished an hour long meeting at work talking through everyone’s updates and what they’re currently working on, but five minutes later, you’re wondering, “wait, when was Jane Doe supposed to get that draft to me by?”

OR

You just wrapped up a meeting with your classmates talking about your project/presentation and you don’t quite remember when you’re next meeting up or who was going to work on what part(s) of the project.

Never leave a meeting/conversation without knowing who is doing what by when.

Imagine buying some things online and heading to check out only to not know when your order would ship. When are your items shipping out of the warehouse? In two days? Five days? A week? Two weeks? When could you expect it by?

If you use “WHO is doing WHAT by WHEN?”, you can avoid all of the above scenarios, get more clarity, increase communication, accountability, and commitment, and improve both professional and personal relationships.

This also applies to emails and slack messages. If someone is asking you if you can get X done by Y and you cannot answer confidently at the time, just give the person a heads up by saying something like “I can’t answer you confidently at this time. I will respond by [time].” This way, you’re acknowledging that you received their message and you’re committing to responding at a future time.

The best thing about this technique? ANYONE and EVERYONE could and should use this. You don’t need to be a manager or an executive to apply this. You can be a leader regardless of your title.

Could I make a small request? Would you leave a comment on this post upon reading this sentence? Let me know your thoughts on this – do you use this? Are people you know using this enough?

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justviasyl
Aspiring to be a woman comfortable and happy mentally, physically and professionally, JustviaSyl highlights Sylvia's personal and professional development journey through tips, thoughts, and stories in hopes of bringing more positive energy into the world and encouraging us to keep learning, laughing, growing, relaxing and reflecting to become the best versions of ourselves and live a life we're remarkably proud of. To get in touch or work together, send a note to justviasyl@gmail.com

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Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

Hello Sylvia Andrew here I know I have said this but your blogs are always good to read and I feel like this one in particular is the most relatable one I have read. I feel like I use it but not as much as I probably should I am always one to write things done and make sure I know as many parts of what project or activity or job is going on. I feel like a lot of communication can be cleared up if people said what they were going to do and when. I always try to… Read more »

Stephanie
Stephanie
1 month ago

Hi Sylvia,
I think this is a simple yet super effective suggestion. I believe we do need to pay attention to our efficiency when doing anything, from just daily routines to job tasks. I definitely think it’s harder when we have a team of people, as I often work alone. However the suggestion is just as important when working alone because it allows us to keep up with our goals in a tangible manner. Thank you for sharing!

Anteneh
Anteneh
1 month ago

Hi Syl! Thank you for sharing another lovely Sun Via Syl post. I look forward to your Sunday posts almost as a routine, as I eat breakfast and sip on some hot tea. In this post, I really like your recollection of “who is doing what by when?”. It is true–so many of us tend to talk talk talk but don’t follow up with actions in a timely fashion. I appreciate this post because it reminds me to continue holding those and myself accountable for what we say we will do. Otherwise, nothing happens: That hangout we said we should… Read more »

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