Just because we may be on a personal quest developing habits for driving a ZeroInbox and increasing our productivity does not mean others around us are getting as much done. Most people are drowning in their inbox and information. It is important when delegating, requesting information or selling to be able to follow up.
Most people are reactionary. Depending on the time and circumstances they are in, they will respond. They are better at reacting than being proactive in their responses. One way to manage the follow up process is to set up a special folder in Outlook or label in Google Apps Gmail indicating a Waiting For status. Then, check this folder to address any followup actions for those that have not responded.
Another more automated approach is relatively new with a service called FollowUp.cc. This is a powerful yet simple application that you can set up to help you stay on top of requests you are seeking a response. Simply BCC the email address <timeframe>@followup.cc. This will allow you to receive the email back in the designated time – 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, etc.
It is a great strategy to keeping a ZeroInbox by letting an automated system to prompt your attention. Your initial BCC was the thinking part. Now you can react and take action when necessary or if not. The tool has an embedded email that allows you to reset the followup timeframe again or set new rules.
Try it out and let me know how it is working for you. Again, the tools are less relevant than the strategies you apply to making them work well in your personal environment. The important thing is to find that fit and process which will allow you to free up time and attention to getting things done. Enjoy the new freedom!