After your responsibility to develop yourself personally and professionally, your next greatest responsibility is to your relationships. You have to keep track of your relationships, and when you interact with the most important people in your life, you need an agenda.
I’m a huge proponent using lists to manage your tasks. Or, if you need something more sophisticated, task management software. Lists and task managers that help you to keep track of all the commitments that you make.
One of the most important ways to make lists is by context. This is a GTD concept where you keep a list by the location where you can do the work. For example your office is a context; there is some work you need to do that requires you be at your office (although that list seems to be shrinking dramatically for most of us). Your telephone is a context. The office in your home is a context. I’ve got my local drugstore and my grocery stores as context lists, too. When I’m in any of the locations I have listed as a context, I have a list of all the things I need to do while I’m there.
But the most important context lists that I have developed is a list of people that I communicate with most frequently. High on this list are my clients. You can’t have a conversation with your client without them being there; in my mind, that makes individual people a context of their own. I have a context for each of my client’s names, and anytime something comes to mind for which I need to speak to that client, I capture it on their list. It doesn’t matter how big the idea is, how important the idea is, or how insignificant the idea is, if I’m thinking about it, I capture it.
Whenever I speak with or meet with a client I’ve got an agenda in front of me. I have all the issues and ideas that I want to speak to them about in one view. This helps both of us use our limited time more effectively.
Make a list of the people you need to communicate with most frequently. Maybe it’s your sales manager. Maybe it’s your clients. Maybe even want to put some personal relationships on a context and include your spouse or your kids. As you go through the week and ideas come to mind, add them to each person’s list. This is much faster and much more effective than making 10 individual phone calls, one for each time something pops in your head.
If what you need to talk to your client about is urgent, by all means, call them immediately. But most of the things aren’t urgent,. The context list by relationship ensures that you have a placeholder for when you do get your client on the telephone.