The Reference (Ref.) field on the ‘To Do Today’ page has been the subject of much discussion by our users on the best way to use it. Here is a summary of how it was intended and how our users use it.
The original purpose of the Reference field was a way to note where something (an email, a document, a file etc) was that you needed to complete an activity. There is two types of things you can reference – external references (emails, documents, files) and internal references (Communications, Goals, Meeting and Notes sub pages).
For example, you are sent an email from Sally that asks you to prepare some sales data for Europe and in the email she gives you many of the parameters that are required. So you enter that activity on the respective ‘To Do Today’ page but how do you know where that email is when it comes time to complete that task. With the current technology it is very easy to search your email system to quickly find the email but that doesn’t apply if someone gave you a paper document or a file etc.
It is a good habit to provide containers to hold these “pending” items in (See Using a Container System). Setup a email folder called “Pending” or similar and then you can move Sally’s email to it and when adding the activity to the ‘To Do Today’ page you can set the reference field to something like “E/P” for email pending folder or whatever makes sense for you.
The other option is to link internal references to it. You may link to Sally’s Communications Page or a Notes Page depending on the requirements of the task.
From our users the golden rules are :
- If you can use the Reference Field use it, because it is likely you will forget by the time you come to complete the activity.
- If linking to external references, use a code that means something to you. If you can’t decipher the code its not much use to you.
Use the Pending and Reading folder system, its simple and it works for all types of references. You can add any additional folders you need such as projects, customers, suppliers and you can use simple consistent abbreviations for the reference field. For example for Customer : Acme Packaging us “C/AP”
Whatever you do make sure you can find what you need, when you need it