Recently, a coaching client asked me for some recommendations for paper-based resources that would help him implement "Getting Things Done."
I coach executives and professionals who use a variety of systems and tools. No matter how elaborate your systems, I find it's always helpful to have at least a few physical tools: solid reminders of ideas and tasks can be extremely helpful. Plus, the physical act of writing can help your memory and creative thinking.
In light of this, I recommended that he consider the following for his personal GTD system, all of which I've found helpful:
I get 3-6 emails every day from some vendor telling me about a "new way to work" and how it's the greatest workplace innovation since the typewriter. I've looked into what they have to offer, but frankly, I haven't seen a real new way to work since David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity was published in 2001.
A few years later, I came out with eProductivity, which has been introducing IBM software users to David's "GTD" methods ever since. For typical professionals who are stressed out, overloaded, and dominated by the latest and loudest thing in their inbox, eProductivity is a fantastic new way to work.
You might say, "10 years old? That's ancient for software!" Remember, Microsoft Word came out in 1989.
What's more, eProductivity is a proven way to work, which is more than can be said for all the advertising fluff floating around.
I know that sounds like I'm bragging, but I don't have to say a thing about eProductivity. People who use it say these things for me. For example, one of my managers just posted this fantastic customer story from an IBMer on Inside.eProductivity.
Here are a few choice quotes:
I have now been using eProductivity for almost three years. When I first installed eProductivity, I had approximately 700 emails in my in-box . . . I now rarely have more than 6-10 emails in my in-box, and I am almost always able to end the day with none.
I am also able to view, in a simple and intuitive way, all of the actions I need to take and the individuals that I waiting to provide me with information.
With eProductivity, I feel that I am always on top of my emails, actions, requests for information, and calendar. As mentioned above, my in-box is almost always at zero, while at the same time I know I have every required action covered that was initiated by an email. It allows me to feel like I am in control of my time.
"I am in control of my time." Mission accomplished. I created eProductivity in the course of my consulting work to help frustrated users of IBM software achieve this exact thing.
Do you feel in control of your time, using whatever tools you have, working however you work?
GTD: the secret sauce of eProductivity "Getting Things Done," is a personal productivity method used by millions of people around the world (including me) to gain clarity and focus in their work. It's based on the principles from the international bestseller, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by my colleague David Allen.
This set of habits and practices, known as GTD for short, helps people:
Process all their inputs in a way that make sense. This includes, email, voicemail, snail mail, idea, notes, conversations, articles -- any source of information that means something to you.
Get a clear view of what they need to do
Decide what's most important to do
Review what they've done and need to do, to make sure nothing slips through the cracks
The power of GTD is built into eProductivity from the ground up: eProductivity is designed to support, facilitate, enable, and (to a certain extent) teach the habits and practices of GTD.
I've personally been using GTD for over 20 years, and it's been enormously effective in my life and work. I originally designed eProductivity to help bring this power to my consulting clients.
Getting Things Done with eProductivity is a real, proven, new way to work The methods of GTD are simple, intuitive, incredibly powerful, and radically different from how most people work, and it's been catching on since 2001. All it takes is learning to think about your work in a new way.
Let me make that clear: a real new way to work starts with how you think about your work, not with a fancy new piece of software. So even though GTD may not have been born yesterday (or even this year), it's still very new to the hundreds of people discovering it every day.
In the same way, eProductivity has the power to take frustrated, overloaded IBM software users and introduce them to a whole new way to get clarity and focus. Prompts are built into the program to get professionals to think differently about their work, which includes their to-do lists, supporting information, and waves of "stuff" coming at them every day.
I have no plans to stop using eProductivity. All the shiny new programs I've tried that promise a new way to work have turned out to be simple email clients with a few bells and whistles thrown in, plus the promise to serve up only what's important to you so you can ignore everything else. So far, that hasn't panned out. Even if it did, these programs still don't give me the tools I need and want to get clarity and focus in the midst of information overwhelm.
The new players are still unknown (and based on what I've seen so far, my hopes are not high). What is known is that many, many people have been successfully getting things done with eProductivity for over a decade.
I'll keep introducing people to a new way to work for as long as I can, which I hope will be for some time.
[Today's post comes from Nathan Paul of the eProductivity Team]
After learning David Allen's Getting Things Done from Eric Mack for a year, I had a problem: on any given day, I had way more things marked as "due" than I could possibly get done. I dealt with it by taking all my incomplete items at the end of each day and changing the due date to the next day -- you can imagine how well that worked out.
...times 20, but better-defined
This continued until I realized something: I was putting due dates on a lot of things that weren't really due that day. This not only overloaded my to-do list, but gave me the extra mental stress of filtering my tasks, asking "Is this really due today?"
Here's how I solved this: by distinguishing between "due" and "like to do."
Does it seem like there's a lot of activity in your office, but the important stuff doesn't get done? When your coworker is three weeks late giving you that report, do you wonder, "What have they been doing?"
This is a situation I've seen at many of the companies I've consulted for: a lot of stuff gets moved around, emailed, minuted, and checked off, but there's very little accomplished.
To understand this, let me tell you a story:
Pretend I'm a manager, and I walk into my office full of bright, eager employees and announce we're going to build a bridge. They all set off right away to put in 10-hour days with smiles on their faces, merrily getting ready to make the best bridge they can build.
Can you think of a more productive, ideal workplace? Everyone's happy and working hard.
There's just one problem: no one knows what kind of bridge we're building. One person's working on a little stone arch, and another's designing the next Golden Gate. We all have different ideas of how wide and long and high to make it, using what materials, and even whether to make an arch or suspension bridge or something else.
There's a crucial question that hasn't been answered: what are we trying to accomplish?
I've found that a lot of problems are solved by asking this simple question. Having a shared, clearly-defined idea of where to head (not to mention how to get there) prevents a lot of wasted time and effort, and also creates a shared sense of purpose and camaraderie.
This is for you personally as well. If you don't have a clear idea of what you're aiming for, you'll have a hard time trying to hit it.
So, do you and your team know what you're doing?
P.S. eProductivity was designed to nurture this kind of thinking. For example, when you create a new Project, eProductivity asks you, "What's the successful outcome? Describe as if already done; what would that look like?" This is meant to encourage you to think in terms of what will be true once you've done this thing. This approach helps keep you focused; plus, it automatically gets your brain thinking about how to achieve that outcome.
You start the new year with energy, verve, and a resolve to Get Things Done! But how do you make sure those things keep moving forward week after week?
Here's the most critical habit to make sure you don't drop the ball: review your commitments regularly. Ideally, this would be done every week.
There are certain steps you can follow for a successful Weekly Review. These will help you empty all your sources of input, review your existing material to make sure it's current, and get inspiration from your goals and ideas.
David Allen's ideal steps for a successful Weekly Review are listed below:
These will work with any system you're using (even pen and paper), but I've also specially built them into eProductivity's Weekly Review Coach.
A few definitions
If you haven't been introduced to the Getting Things Done method, a few quick definitions may be in order:
Capture Tools: Any place where stuff collects, such as your inbox, email, and voicemail.
Tickler: Files for stuff you want to be reminded of at a later date. For example, you could have a tickler item labeled "Decide whether to attend the 2016 Olympics," with a due date of four months before the event.
Waiting-for: Just what it sounds like -- anything that you're waiting for from someone else.
Someday/Maybe: A list of things you want to do and could do, but can't, shouldn't, or won't do now.
Why the Weekly Review is so powerful
Following the checklist above will help you
Empty all the stuff that you've collected
Decide what you need to do about all that stuff (if anything)
Review everything in your world at least briefly so nothing falls through the cracks
Get inspired by your creative ideas
Personally, my favorite part of the Weekly Review is going through stuff I haven't thought about in a while, and it hits me -- "I could do this fun, exciting, creative thing!" I can't always do that thing right away -- often, it has to go on my someday/maybe list -- but it's energizing just to have those ideas!
David Allen on the Weekly Review Coach
To use the Weekly Review Coach
If you're using eProductivity, open the eProductivity menu and select "Weekly Review Coach" to get started!
If you're not using eProductivity (and you have Lotus Notes) click here to learn more and start a 21-day trial.
Here's how I took some of my own advice from one of last week's posts on wrapping up the year.
I started reviewing my own Horizons of Focus, and from there working down to my own goals and projects for the year. This got more and more tangled and complex, until I finally realized that I needed some kind of filter. One set of goals and objectives for my whole life wasn't enough: I had to split everything in my world (and my Horizons of Focus) into different roles.
Each role would have its own complete set of Horizons of Focus: mission, vision, values, purpose, goals, objectives, areas of focus, projects, and actions.
After thinking about it, I realized that in my life I fill the following roles:
Once I was clear on my roles, I started to define my Horizons of Focus for each of them, using a table like this:
I experienced great clarity by starting at the top in this way -- having these broad categories made it much easier to sort everything in my world.
Later, though, I realized that "Professional" could (and should) really be broken down further into five smaller roles:
This has made it much easier to organize projects, actions, and information related to my work.
I've struggled over the years to define my roles while keeping them manageable. One year, doing this same exercise, I wound up with 35 different roles -- and trying to live by them over the following months nearly drove me insane.
Another year, I decided to keep things super-simple and just stick with Work, Family, and Personal -- but this turned out to be too simplistic, and I often got stuck on where to file things.
This year, however, I think I've finally come up with a good number of roles: small enough to be manageable, but large enough to encompass everything I do.
I thought it was very helpful to map these out in my eProductivity Horizons of Focus documents; then, once I'm done defining each role, I'll work down to my projects and actions for each one, which will be recorded in eProductivity.
If you start with your Horizons of Focus, you'll probably find it much easier to brainstorm everything in your world that needs your attention. Plus, if you want to record Projects and Actions straight from eProductivity Reference, you can turn on the option to include the New Action and New Project buttons in the Reference database.
I hope you can get clarity on your roles this New Year so you can do what you need to get done!
Not just any perspective -- I mean seeing your life at every level, so you can know just what you're doing and why.
In his bestselling book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, my friend and collaborator David Allen describes six levels of perspective, which he calls the "Horizons of Focus:"
Think about these, write them down, and put them in a place where you'll review them regularly. They may change over time, but they'll help keep you on track.
Most people tend to get stuck on the difference between the Horizons of Focus and Areas of Focus, so I'd like to explain this level a bit more.
A word about Areas of Focus
Here are some examples of this particular level:
Your relationship with your spouse
Designing new sales campaigns
Special projects for your boss
Keeping certifications up-to-date
Areas of Focus are essentially the major categories for your projects. Reviewing these regularly, along with the other horizons, will help you make sure that each one is moving forward.
How to set up your Horizons of Focus
You can do this in Word, Evernote, your IBM Lotus Notes Notebook, or even with a pen and paper. All it really takes is some thought and a capture tool to help you organize your thinking.
Think about your ultimate purpose in life. How can you move towards that in the coming year? What projects can you take on to advance your aims?
If you're using eProductivity, the Horizons of Focus tools are already built right in -- plus, eProductivity's Weekly Review Coach makes it easy to easily review your horizons regularly.
To set these up in eProductivity, here's what you'll need:
eProductivity Reference -- click here for more info
Click here for how to set up the horizons in eProductivity Reference
Want to learn more about planning your horizons?
For more detailed descriptions of the horizons, see this article.
I first learned the Horizons of Focus from my friend and collaborator, David Allen, author of the bestselling Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. and creator of the GTD methodology. David was personally involved in the testing of eProductivity, an add-on for IBM Lotus Notes that I designed to help people get more done with less stress.
This is the end of my four steps to close out the year. I hope they've made you more confident that you're prepared for 2015. These tips have been based on my experience with GTD over the years, and I look forward to sharing more of what I've learned in the future.
Happy New Year!
P.S. Share your own insights
What tips, tricks, tools, or habits have you found helpful to review your year? Or is there anything you'd like help with to close out 2014? Either way, I'd like to hear it in the comments!
Hopefully, you have a list somewhere of things you'd like to do someday. As I mentioned in Part 1, these might be great ideas, but the right time hasn't come along to do them.
The term for things like this is "Someday/Maybe," and this is one of my favorite lists to review for the new year. This is typically where I keep my creative, fun, outrageous ideas -- and the end of 2014 is the perfect time to read through it and see what I may want to do to wrap up this year or kick off the next.
What's a "Someday/Maybe?"
Again, this list is not:
A black hole where things go to die (that's what your trash is for)
Your procrastinate list
For stuff you'll never actually do (also trash)
Someday/Maybe is your list for things you want to do, but can't or shouldn't right now.
You're not committing to do them, only to review them.
For example, my personal Someday/Maybe list includes things like:
Build a working laser cutter
Add a second business course to my teaching schedule
Attend the Macy's Thanksgiving parade in New York
These are all things that I want to do, actually could do, but won't,can't, or shouldn't do now, for whatever reason.
Again, I'm not committed to do any of these, only to review them regularly for ideas and inspiration.
Your own collection of creative ideas
Hopefully, you have a similar list that you're incubating and reviewing from time to time -- because someday, maybe some of those Someday/Maybe's will become things you can and should do now.
As you kick off the new year, you might discover that it's time to bring some of those projects to life. There are few things more energizing than remembering something you wanted to do and realizing the time is now.
Go back over your Someday/Maybe list and ask yourself:
Can I do this now?
Should I do this now?
Do I still want to do this?
If you can and should do it now, make it a project.
If it seemed like a good idea at some point, but no longer inspired or energizes you, throw it away!
(By the way, if you're using eProductivity, the Someday/Maybe list comes built-in. Just look on the left).
Don't have this list?
If you don't have a Someday/Maybe list, then maybe it's time to make one! As you come across objects or ideas in your world that represent things you'd like to do, but can't or shouldn't right now, add them to your Someday/Maybe list.
(or, if you really want go pedal to the metal, you can do a full-on David Allen-style processing of everything in your world -- see here for the map).
This list can live in Evernote, notes on your phone, a Word document, IBM Lotus Notes To-Do's, eProductivity, Outlook Tasks, or even paper -- ideally, somewhere easy for you to see and review.
Share what you know
Are there any tips, tricks, routines, or habits that you've found helpful to review your year? Or is there anything else you're struggling with to close out 2014? Either way, I'd like to hear it in the comments!
The concept of "Someday/Maybe" was taught to me by my friend and collaborator, David Allen. David is the author of the bestselling Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity and creator of the GTD methodology. David was personally involved in the testing of eProductivity, an add-on for IBM Lotus Notes that I designed to help people get more done with less stress.
My favorite way to get energized for the holidays is to look back on what I've accomplished this year.
Unless you keep your whole world in your head, you've got a list somewhere of what to do. Now is a great time to take that list (or collection of lists) and tear it to pieces! -- after you've reviewed its contents, that is.
As you look back on your old lists, you'll find four kinds of stuff
Stuff you need to finish
Stuff you'd like to do someday
Stuff you're not going to do
Stuff you've already finished!
Here's how to deal with each one. Along the way, you'll make two clean, shiny, new lists to work from in 2015.
Stuff to finish
First of all, don't panic. If this is well and truly something you must get done by a certain deadline, here's what to do:
Think about the very next thing you need to do to accomplish this
Put that very next thing on your list (not the list you're reviewing, but your brand spanking new New Year's list)
Take one step at a time, and you will get it done.
If you're using eProductivity, make a new Project (or update the old one). You're one step closer to a fresh new year.
Stuff for someday
You could, should, or would do this, but right now you don't have the time, resources, knowledge, or deadline. What do you do with these?
Get ready for a high-tech term:
This is not:
A black hole where things go to die
Your procrastinate list
For stuff you'll never actually do
This is your list for things you want to do, but can't or shouldn't right now.
If you're using eProductivity, this comes built-in. Just look on the left!
Stuff not to do
Let's face it: you will never actually do this. It's time to recognize that, cross it off, and move on. Shred it, delete it, crumple it up -- it's not going to stress you anymore.
Stuff you've finished!
Read your list and realize, "I did that. I'm finished. It's done." Just soak in that accomplishment.
The feeling you got when you actually finished it was the sundae -- crossing it off your list is the cherry on top.
In eProductivity, just click the handy "Mark Complete" button. It's not shaped like a cherry, but it should be.
Smell that fresh, clean New Year
Once you're done, your trash is full, your desk is clean, and your lists are fresh. You are one organized captain of your work world. Now go have a happy holiday -- you've earned it!
(Hint: all these steps work just as well for your personal stuff!)
Over the next few days, I will share 3 more tips to help you wrap up the year. Meanwhile, I wish you the happiest of holidays!
David Allen opens his book, Getting Things Don, the Art of Stress Free Productivity, with this statement: “It’s possible for a person to have an overwhelming number of things to do and still function productively with a clear head and a positive sense of relaxed control” (p. 3). I don’t know about you, but my immediate reaction was, “Yes please!”
I’m going to give you a partial summary of the first chapter of Mr. Allen’s book. I’ll try to give you enough of a sense of what this book says and what it can do for you (and has done for me) without giving you all it has to offer (both to respect Mr. Allen’s IP and not get myself sued by him or his publisher).1
What do you want to get done?
Mr. Allen defines “work” as “anything that you want or need to be different than it currently is” (4).
So. Are there weeds in the garden? Are there emails in your inbox? Is your air conditioner broken? Do you need to help your kid decide on a college? How many hundreds of things are there in your life that you need or want to accomplish, do, create, or change? We’re going to take a little look at how to do it all.
This isn’t just a system for your job. It’s for your whole life.
The Natural Planning Method is something you’ve been doing your whole life without realizing it. Recently, I’ve been learning to consciously apply it to everything I do — and it’s been a huge relief. In a word, it’s given me a trusted process for dealing with just about anything I need or want to do. Now, instead of dozens of projects flying into my brain at random to tug my attention away from what I’m doing, I can focus on the present, because I know that everything on my to-do list is set to be taken care of. This isn’t anything quasi-mystical, and I’m not going to ask you to buy anything. The steps
What David Allen (the speaker from the video that was the subject of my last entry) has done is reverse-engineer the process that your brain naturally uses to plan anything: 1. You identify something you want 2. You envision what having it will look and feel like — what will be true once it’s accomplished 3. Everything (information, ideas, actions) associated with getting it floods into your mind 4. You organize those ideas, actions, and info into patterns and steps 5. You determine the very next thing you need to do — and do it
When I hear the words “productivity guru,” I picture a bald, fit, bespectacled man with a goatee and a flashy suit giving a jargon-heavy presentation to a group of executives (who are pretending to understand what he’s saying) on the subject of how to cram 100 hours of work into a mere 50-hour work week — and, more importantly, how to get their employees to do the same. His constant calendar-checking, emailing, and texting do nothing to interrupt his flow of sophisticated corp-speak.
I definitely do not picture a guy like David Allen speaking intelligibly about concepts I can understand and that get me excited about learning to get things done. The fact that my expectations were utterly confounded is the reason I recommend this video.
After setting up Deja Office on my new iPhone, I have been experimenting with their "Memos" or Reference Database over the last few days. Here is what I have found:
I created a new test document on the iPhone and synched it over to notes. I made sure to choose a category for this test document, and was pleased to find that when I replicated with Notes, my test memo appeared and was correctly categorized.
However, I was away from my computer yesterday and needed to capture some information into my Reference Database. I pulled out my iPhone and quickly created a new Deja Office memo. The information I was recording fell under two categories in my reference database, so as I was adding the category, I chose two categories, everything looked fine, so I saved the memo and double checked that it was recorded in Deja Office - no problem so far.
It was not until I synched Daja Office with Lotus Notes that I noticed the problem. I replicated Notes, then went to my Reference Database and opened the category I had filed the memo under to find the memo. To my surprise, I could not locate the memo under either of the categories I had filed it in, nor could I find it in my uncategorized view. It was not until I searched under "All Documents" that I located my entry. It appears that Deja Office had created a new, invisible category that was a combination of the two categories I entered. This new category does not appear as a category on the left side of my screen.
This is a big problem for me as I often have entries that use multiple categories. I would love to see a solution for this.
Our company recently purchased several iPhone 5c's for testing purposes and I spent a good portion of the day setting up my phone and testing various productivity solutions to see how well they integrate with eProductivity. I set up Lotus Traveler to synchronize my email, contacts, and calendar. Next, I set up the IBM Traveler Tasks application and the IBM Traveler Companion App I was disappointed to learn that IBM Traveler does not provide a solution for the IBM Notes Notebook as this is a key element in any personal information management (PIM) system. I use my Notes Notebook as my go to Reference Database. The Reference Database is a key tool in my toolbox and I find myself using it on my smartphone on a regular basis.
Eric Mack reached out to me recently and offered to show me how he uses IBM Notes. I wanted top see eProductivity in operation anyway so this was my chance to learn from its creator
My first One on One coaching session with Eric Mack focused on an introduction to eProductivity which I found impressive. Eric Mack and David Allen have created an optimized software package and user interface for IBM Notes.
(As an aside, I believe that it would behoove anyone working in software development to preview the demo and see what a completely optimized life management tool looks like.) Over a three day period, I implemented all 57 exercises to properly demo the software. In my next post, I will describe more about this experience.
Two weeks ago I shared a link to productivity blogger Jason Spencer'
Jason is a journalist and professor at the Art Institute of Houston and he recently reached out to me to share his interest in IBM Notes as a productivity platform . He said that he was planning to do a long term experiment by migrating his life to IBM Notes/Smart Cloud. I like the way he explores and writes about productivity topics he's passionate about so I encouraged him to share his experience and I invited him to submit guest blog posts about his experience for the benefit of the Notes on Productivity readers.
Jason's first and second guest blog posts are here and here. Jason's third installment update is below. Challenges Implementing Getting Things Done with IBM Notes I'm a long time proponent of David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) approach to work and life. In fact, knowing that David uses and recommends IBM Notes as his knowledge platform of choice is what first led me to consider switching from Outlook. When Microsoft emasculated their productivity tools I got fed up and decided to explore the tool that David Allen uses. I understand that David also uses eProductivity but I wanted to first understand what it is about Notes that has kept this program around for over two decades. Using my knowledge of GTD, I decided to see if I could implement this approach to productive work within my vanilla Notes 9 Social Edition Setup.
As the creator of eProductivity, the premier personal productivity application for IBM Notes, I want to share a few examples of how eProductivity makes my task management in IBM Notes easy.
In case you are unfamiliar with the approach to knowledge work that I use, it's called GTD® which is the shorthand for "Getting Things Done®" from a a book by my friend and best selling author and productivity expert David Allen. (Disclaimer: I have worked with David for 20 years and David has greatly influenced my eProductivity software; it's the productivity application that he uses and recommends.)
David Allen identifies the fives stages of workflow as:
The folks over at GTD Times recently announced a 14-day GTD Challenge, designed to help folks take their productivity to a whole new level. The event is free and will be hosted in the GTD Connect community. (If you haven't taken the time to explore the GTD Connect resources you can get a free two week guest pass here.)
The free event kicks off Thursday, September 22 with the first of two webinars by Kelly Forrister and Meg Edwards - both are senior presenters with the David Allen Company. As a side note: I've worked with Kelly for close to 20 years and Meg was one of my personal GTD coaches (Thanks, Meg!) Even if you are experienced at getting things done, this is a fantastic opportunity to sharpen your skills.
The challenge will take place between September 22 and October 6. During this time, Kelly and Meg will challenge you to evaluate your systems and processes to improve your skills. I expect that there will be lively discussion in the forums as well.
I like the idea of the 14-day challenge. I think it's a great idea and anyone that participates is sure to benefit greatly. I've been thinking about ways to help our customers, and anyone that uses Lotus Notes in general, to become more productive. I've decided to run a series of webinars in tandem with the above 14-day GTD challenge to help people that use Lotus Notes apply what they are learning in Kelly and Meg's webinar to the Lotus Notes environment. Most of this will focus around using Lotus Notes and eProductivity to get things done. I'll share with people how I use these tools and I'll provide the opportunity for people to ask questions.
You don't have to be an eProductivity user to participate, as I will share many tips that work with standard Lotus Notes. If you want to use eProductivity but do not already own it, that's not a problem either, as I'll provide the Essentials version of eProductivity free of charge to anyone that wants to participate.
Step two: If you haven't already done so, quickly sign up for the 14-day GTD Challenge. The first webinar is tomorrow. I plan to attend and I encourage you to do so, as well.
Would you help me tell others about this opportunity? If you have a productivity community (GTD, or eProductivity, or anything else) please consider making a post and sharing this link. I plan to post updates here and direct people to other resources as appropriate.
I plan to select several names from those that helped share this event and offer them either a free software license or a jumpstart coaching session. However you decide to participate, I am certain that you will get great value (and if you decide to share this page with your coworkers, you will have my gratitude as well).
Presented by productivity experts Kelly Forrister and Eric Mack
On September 14, 2011, the IBM SVL (Silicon Valley Labs) Super Women's Group will host another productivity event as part of their 2011 technology hands-on workshop series.
This week, the topic will be "Getting Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes" and it will be presented by Kelly Forrister of The David Allen Company and Eric Mack of eProductivity. Here's your opportunity to learn more about GTD® from the experts.
While the event is hosted by the IBM SVL group, they have graciously agreed to allow anyone to sign up to attend. There's no cost to attend the web event, however, space is limited so be sure to register early.
All registered attendees will receive special productivity resources and tools.
Please share this information with your coworkers. You may this link to forums at work or click on the social media buttons at the top of the page. Or do both! Something special may happen as a result!. Thanks!
For some users of Lotus Notes, that's all they can see, access, or use.
What an extraordinary waste of resources to pay well for talent and expertise, give workers and extraordinary tool to support them, and then lock it down so all they can use is email.
Today, I worked with a senior executive at a large organization. He had transferred from a global organization that used Outlook. Now, he has Lotus Notes. Like many highly productive executives, he's involved in a GTD community (this one happened to be on LinkedIn) where he learned that Lotus Notes could be transformed into a highly effective information and action management tool. He contacted me for some guidance and I offered to help him. I asked him if he had received any training in how to use Notes. He replied no, so I offered to do a quick web meeting to get him started. It was there that I found out that his Lotus Notes was locked down to the screen above. So, for him, Notes truly is about email and basic PIM. He could not view the Notes workspace or anything else. Strictly email and calendar.
I showed him my Lotus Notes desktop, specifically my Notes workspace where I have over 400 icons on my workspace neatly organized across more than a dozen tabs. It may sound like a lot but Lotus Notes makes it very easy for me to get things done quickly by organizing my work in this way. We reviewed some of the features of Notes and within minutes he said that he could see how Notes could do so much more and that prior to our meeting he had only heard the negatives about Notes. Now, he was interested to learn more about Lotus Notes and what it could do for his organization.
In the short time we had, I did not make him a Notes expert, but I did manage to give him a glimpse into a tool that has served me and many others quite well for over two decades. The very tool he has on his desktop has the ability to transform the way that he and his team communicate, collaborates and coordinate their work.
I am glad I was able to champion the software he already has and give him a new outlook on Lotus Notes.
DominoPower Magazine Senior Technical Editor Mick Moignard shares his experience implementing David Allen's GTD® methodology in Lotus Notes using the free eProductivity Essentials application.
I've toyed around the edges of David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology for quite some time, and I've played with a number of Lotus Notes implementations of it. I've talked with Eric Mack of eProductivity about his company's Lotus Notes implementation, and I've listened to the man himself, David Allen, talk about GTD at Lotusphere. I even bought and had him sign a copy of one of his books, then won a copy of another one from Eric.
But I've not committed myself to the process.
So when Eric asked me to have a look at the new eProductivity Essentials stand-alone version, I thought this would be great opportunity not just to look at his product, but also take another look at whether GTD is really for me.
The first two articles have already been posted here and here. The final installment and a free offer from eProductivity just for DominoPower readers will be published next week.
Correction 8/9/2011: In his independent review of eProductivity Essentials for Lotus Notes, by DominoPower Magazine, Senior Technical Editor Mick Moignard wrote: "... you can't actually follow through the sample actions specified, because there are already more than 25 open actions in the sample data in the database."
For readers of this blog and DominoPower magazine, we need to clarify how this works: When a user first evaluates eProductivity, the product starts in "trial" mode with the full "Professional" edition feature set. During this time, users can process the sample emails (which are strategically placed there to introduce folks to the GTD processes by simply processing a few emails). They can also create an unlimited number of projects and actions. At the end of the trial period (21 days) the user is invited to purchase an activation key to unlock additional features or allow the product to convert to the free "Essentials" edition, which imposes a limit of 25 open actions at any one time.
Apparently, Mr. Moignard had previously evaluated a different version of eProductivity, so his current and thorough review of eProductivity Essentials started out in free "Essentials" mode rather than "Trial" mode - which explains why he was subject to the 25 open action limit. In that case, Mr. Moignard's advice to delete the sample and tutorial emails and actions makes perfect sense. (We have shared this information with DominoPower Magazine so that they can update their review and provide the correct information to their readers.)
Recently in the news, Microsoft has been bragging about how schools are either currently using or switching to Microsoft Outlook. While that is true for most schools, our school, the Mack Academy has always used Lotus Notes and has made it an integral part of our school productivity toolkit.
Our principal realized the value of technology in the schools and started training us how to use computers at a very young age. In fact, I was two when my sister Amy and I were introduced to Lotus Notes and when I received my first email!
How productive are follow-up flags and due dates? What about best practices on delegating to-dos to your subordinates?
What’s the most effective way to keep track of tasks you pick up from social tools like Lotus Connections and Lotus Activities?
And, should you track personal tasks in your system at work?
These are the kinds of questions that David Allen and I are addressing in the Getting Things Done with Lotus Notes podcast series. We're in week three of the series and I invite you join us we answer the more than 200 questions we received in our recent webinars.
In the most recent episode published last week, we continue the conversation about how to be more productive with standard Lotus Notes tasks, mail, calendar, and more.
Have a productivity question you'd like to get answered?
Send me an email and I'll add it to the queue for an upcoming podcast.
How's your productivity vocabulary? Clear, focused words that represent equally focused concepts can dramatically affect your performance. David Allen's Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology is used everyday by millions of men and women around the world to dramatically increase their personal and organizational productivity. I've put together this concise list of the key GTD terms and definitions. It's a small list, but these concepts put into action will deliver big results.
Key GTD Terms and Definitions
Action - a single, physical, visible step to get something done. (e.g. call Fred/draft proposal/wash dog)
Project - Any outcome that requires more than one action step to complete
Sidebar: A key GTD best practice is to have clearly defined options when you are choosing what to do. Personally, I like to distinguish between “Next Actions” (your next, physical, visible action steps that are project related or not) and “Actions” (for capturing project related future, sequential, or dependent actions that would follow the Next Actions.)
Context - The locations that work can be done in. Can be geographical (e.g. At Office) or it can be resource-based (e.g. At Phone)
Waiting For - Commitments you are tracking that are dependent on someone or something else
Tickler - A system for tracking date-specific actions in the future
Someday/Maybe - Items that you might want to do in the future, but have no current commitment to complete
Reference - Items that do not require your action, but have value as information to hold on to
Weekly Review - A weekly walk through of your commitments so that everything stays clear and current, freeing you to be creative
The GTD Workflow Diagram
In addition to the vocabulary above, I've found the GTD Workflow Diagram to be a valuable resource. It's worth studying closely:
You can download this diagram and related instructions for free from The David Allen Company Store.
Early in David's presentation, he acknowledged that this organization uses Lotus Notes, to which he said, "I love Notes!", something he's not afraid to share in any venue.
The exec told me, "Eric, you could've heard a pin drop!" He said he looked around the room to see the dropped jaws and astonished faces as David then went on to explain why he thinks Lotus Notes is one of the most powerful information management tools for individual and workgroup productivity he's ever seen. David stayed after to share how he uses Lotus Notes and eProductivity to get things done. Not only did he leave the audience with the methodology of productivity - GTD - he showed them that the very tool that they already had deployed could be readily adapted to become a productivity powerhouse. (We will soon be working with this organization to further increase the value they receive from their investment in IBM Lotus Notes.)
This is not an isolated story. In my work, David and I speak with mid, senior, and C-level execs on a regular basis and I love showing them how, equipped with an approach for high performance knowledge work, they can transform their organization by transforming the way that they think about and use Lotus Notes.
I'm working to collect some case studies that I can share, although this takes time. I hope someday to add a "success stories" section where we can showcase what people are doing with and why they love Lotus Notes. There are a lot of them out there.
Apart from this blog, you may not hear stories like this often - there was no huge sale made, no competitive "win" away from Microsoft, and nothing for IBM to put into a press release.
But I submit it was a huge "win" -- a win in the minds of the people who attended David's presentation because they walked away with the skills to become more productive and the knowledge that they were using one of the most productive information, communication, and collaboration tools available -- Lotus Notes, by IBM. You might even say it gave them a new outlook on Notes.
Update: David and I recently presented two webinars on the topic of getting things done with Lotus Notes. We received several hundred questions from the almost 2,000 participants. I'm in the process of editing and merging these to make them available for replay, soon. Meanwhile, here are a few related videos for you to enjoy:
Last Thursday, we held an IBM employee-only "Getting Things Done in Lotus Notes" webinar with eProductivity's Eric Mack and featured guest, GTD® creator David Allen. Judging by the 725 IBMer registrants, the 200 questions asked during the session, and the multitudes of follow-up emails that attendees sent us, the webinar was a resounding success.
The webinar even generated the Tweet of the Month! (trademark pending, of course...)
David and Eric were on fire and shared many things they've learned about being more productive with Lotus Notes.
David delivered a passionate explanation of the Essentials of GTD. He spoke on the vital importance of a trusted system and reminded us that you can only feel good about what you're not doing if you know what you're not doing.
For those who had never heard of GTD, it was a eye-opening experience (based on their comments afterwards) and for those of us familiar with GTD, it was a welcome refresher.
Eric then showed how to set up Lotus Notes for GTD. First, he demonstrated how regular Lotus Notes can be an effective GTD list manager, and then he showed how using eProductivity takes Lotus Notes to the next level. The best part? It was all stuff people could put to use right away.
Plus, all attendees received a free resource kit which included an eProductivity Reference database full of great GTD articles from David's library.
First, let me say a big thanks to everyone who attended the webinar. Your participation was appreciated and it's been great to hear from so many of you about how the webinar benefited you.
Let me also say thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about the webinar.
Another opportunity to hear David and Eric live:
On April 28th, you have another opportunity to experience David and Eric's extensive knowledge of productivity.
This time, the free event is open to the general public but spaces are filling up quickly. So before the event is booked out, make sure to tell all your friends who use Lotus Notes and could use more time & less stress in their lives! Register for the webinar
Now, in case you're still deciding if this is the webinar for you, here's the planned agenda:
Your Personal Productivity Equation
Essentials of GTD
How to set up Lotus Notes with GTD
David's Productivity Toolkit
eProductivity™ for IBM Lotus Notes
Getting Started with GTD and Lotus Notes
As you can see, this is a must-attend event! Register today.
To get automatic updates on eProductivity's webinar events, you can sign up for the free eProductivity newsletter.
David Allen's book, "Getting Things Done - The Art of Stress-Free Productivity", and his GTD® methodology have revolutionized the way millions of working men and women tackle their work. His system turns achieving control and perspective over your commitments into a daily reality.
Many people know this about GTD. What you may not know is that for the past 17 years, David has used Lotus Notes as his personal organization system.
This month, David and I will be co-presenting two webinars on GTD & Lotus Notes.
Some of the things we'll show:
How to go home at the end of the day with an empty inbox
How to tackle your work week with the confidence of knowing you’re being as productive as you can possibly be
What's in David's productivity toolkit and how he uses Lotus Notes to get things done
Webinar exclusively for IBM employees
On April 8th from 10:00am – 11:30am PST, we’ll be doing a webinar exclusively for IBM employees on applying GTD to Lotus Notes. Many IBMers are fans of GTD already, and this will give more insight into David’s master tips, tricks & strategies. We’ll also look at eProductivity – the only software tool for Lotus Notes that’s earned the distinctive “GTD Enabled” certification.
If you’re an IBM employee, sign up now. Space is limited.
Webinar open to the public
On April 28th from 10:00am - 11:30am PST, David and I will be doing another "Getting Things Done in Lotus Notes" webinar for the general public.
Go here to get more details and sign up now. Space is limited.
At this year's Lotusphere event in Orlando, Lotus V.P. of messaging and collaboration, Kevin Cavanaugh, presented the Technology Keynote. The presentation is worth watching as Kevin and Lotus Product Manager, Ed Brill, talked about the Lotus product strategy, roadmap, and of course, Project Vulcan. At one point in Kevin's presentation talking about how Lotus applications can bring a variety of information to the user, he stopped and addressed a key problem that many users face: information overload.
... we don't need more calendars... we need a way to consolidate and adjudicate between competing events. [Lotus Notes can do that] ... we don't need more ways to capture text; we need ways to reduce the stress of unfulfilled commitments and organize tasks for action.
Kevin goes on to talk about how users need help managing their commitments...
...As an industry, we're kind of guilty of multiplying lists, with no real method for how those lists of tasks might be managed. However, there are some great counter-examples...
To learn what the counter examples are, watch the 2-minute video below...
Kevin and Ed get it. In a time when CEOs have extracted all the value they can from IT by cutting costs. The only thing left to increase the value from IT is to find ways to make workers more productive and effective with the tools they use. Lotus has introduced many new improvements and enhancements to the product line that can help, but at the end of the day, Lotus Knows that value creation begins with the individual. It's at this level -- increasing worker productivity -- that the next great opportunity to create value exists. It's exciting to see Lotus explore ways to increase knowledge worker productivity by looking beyond Lotus software to the best practices and tools that can complement Lotus offerings to help users get things done.
I'll be blogging more about this in the weeks to come...
David Allen discusses a senior executive's story of a productivity transformation. By tapping into the power of GTD and eProductivity-enabled Lotus Notes, this transformation has greatly benefited the people under him and ultimately, the organization.
Footage taken from an interview with David on January 10, 2010. For more clips from the interview, go here.
In this clip from my interview with David, he relates his background as a long-time Notes user and advocate. He finds combining the power of Lotus Notes and eProductivity to be a natural fit and he's very pleased with the results.
I had the opportunity to spend time with David Allen this weekend to talk about Getting Things Done, Lotus Notes, Cloud Computing, and extreme productivity. David allowed me to interview him on some questions and record it so I could share it with you.
Here's the first video. I'll try to post a few new clips each day.
I've been using Lotus Notes for a few years (Since R2) and over the past 16 years, Notes has become the core of my information, communication, collaboration, and action management systems. I started using Notes back in the days of 2400 Baud SmartModems. One of the reasons I used, recommended, and deployed Notes for my clients at the time was because it allowed people to work locally (off-line) and it hid the fact that the modem technolgy was slow and phone jacks were hard to find. (Remember, this was back in the days when you had to carry screw drivers and alligator clips with you to the hotel.) I was reminded of this when my colleague pinged me in SameTime, from 30,000 feet:
It's been over a month since I last did a full weekly review. I took a 6 weeks off of work to complete my Master's degree in Information and Knowledge Management and then two additional weeks to spend some time with my family.
During this time, I blogged only occaisionally and I intentionally ignored most emails, doing only an occasional emergency scan of my inbox in order to delegate time-critical items to my team.
Yesterday, I spent the day with David Allen and his team to discuss exciting developments around eProductivity, mobility, and Notes 8.51.
Today, I returned to the office to an overflowing inbox - over 4,000 emails and a small stack of paper to process.
At least it's all in one place, ready for me to process.
Allen currently uses a customized version of IBM's Lotus Notes for PC, which he calls his e-productivity suite. It syncs automatically with his phone, so he can add notes on the go. Allen isn't planning to commercialize e-productivity anytime soon, though. And he's wary of most to-do-list software on the market.
Chris got it mostly right. David Allen does use Lotus Notes for collaboration and personal productivity - he started with Notes 3 -- and eProductivity is the solution that tursn Lotus Notes into his ultimate personal productivity tool. David's wary of most to-do-list software because most that we have looked at (and we've examined well over 125 apps) don't appear to "get" the fundamental principles of task management at the personal level. (That's why out of the hundreds of to-do-list apps, there are only two that are certified as "GTD-Enabled.")
If you are a reader of this blog and for some reason you've not yet clued in to the fact that I think Lotus Notes is a powerful tool for getting things done, I encourage you to investigate further. You're in for a real treat!
Kelly Forrister recently posted a new podcast on the GTD Times blog featuring David Allen and Buzz Bruggeman of ActiveWords discussing the productive benefits of ActiveWords:
One of the tools David Allen uses on his PC is ActiveWords, a tool often described as “solving a problem you didn’t know you had.” It essentially streamlines the navigation and common tasks we do all day long; send emails, go to web sites, create new tasks, insert text, open files and more...
When it comes to saving time in daily tasks in Windows, ActiveWords delivers. And you can learn more about how it does that by listening to the podcast linked below.
In the spirit of looking at productivity tools for a variety of platforms, we can't overlook the fact that the world doesn't use Notes yet. For Outlook users that want to get things done, the folks at NetCentrics have just released the most recent version of their Getting Things Done Outlook Add-In, version 3.0.
NetCentrics and the David Allen Company have been working together to develop the Add-In as a trusted system for Outlook for over six years, and during that time the product has been upgraded many times.
This particular upgrade focuses on a number of enhancements and some nice new features. Key among the enhancements is the integration of the menu items into Outlook’s “ribbons”, so the Add-In works more naturally with the ribbon concept. As far as new features are concerned, NetCentrics listened to its customer base and created a really powerful project management capability, which pulls together a number of the existing features into a project management function. This new functionality can simplify the management of projects and the tasks and actions related to your projects.
There are a number of other new features and enhancements in the 3.0 release that will be of interest to anyone who is passionate about Getting Things Done and is an active Outlook user.
You can learn more about the Outlook Add-in here and read about the new functionality here.
I’ve known and interacted with the folks at NetCentrics for several years, and they are top notch. If you use Outlook and want to make it a “trusted system” you can’t go wrong with the GTD Outlook Add-In.
Of course, if you use Lotus Notes and want to make Notes your trusted system, then eProductivity is the solution for you.
Inspired by this week's GTD with Lotus Notes podcast with GTD Coach, Kelly Forrister, I've decided to take a short break from showing people how to get more done with Lotus Notes and eProductivity to equip them with a way to get more done: I've decided to give away licenses and subscriptions to my favorite GTD productivity software.
Last month, I took the business cards from everyone that visited the eProductivity booth at Lotusphere 2009 or the GTD Summit and entered the names into a drawing for free GTD software. Additionally, if I received written feedback from those people who had already evaluated eProductivity, I entered that name in the drawing a second time.
My daughter, Kelly, selected the first 6 winners.
Before I share the winner's names, you should know what the prizes are:
Congratulations to the first group of winners! I've created a winner's page on the eProductivity web site where you can find out who won.
This was an experiment to see if the concept of a drawing would encourage people to visit the web site and evaluate the software. It worked - well enough that I've decided to do it one more time with a larger audience.
If you didn't win the first time, I'm going to give you another chance to win some of my favorite GTD productivity applications.
In just over a week, I will have one more drawing for free GTD & productivity software. The drawing will be Monday, June 15, 2009. That's only one week away; follow this link for details.
Do you blog or Tweet? If you think the offer of free GTD & productivity software would be of interest to your friends, please share it with them. Thanks.
Kelly explains that while the GTD methodology is platform agnostic; there are a variety of tools that people can choose from to help them manage their workflow. Some people prefer to use stand-alone GTD tools while others choose to use products like the NetCentrics GTD Add-in for Outlook or eProductivity for IBM Lotus Notes that integrate with their current email and collaboration systems. Some tools are certainly more conducive to GTD than others, but among the ones that work well, it always comes down to functionality and personal preference.
The David Allen Company has been using Lotus Notes as their collaboration platform since 1993 and David Allen and many of the GTD coaches and staff also use eProductivity as their GTD implementation tool of choice.
Kelly recently invited me to talk with her about what makes eProductivity so functional for people that use Lotus Notes. You've heard me share that David Allen says that "eProductivity is the ultimate GTD implementation tool for Lotus Notes." In today's podcast, you'll learn a few of the reasons why.
I originally thought we would talk specifically about software features but the podcast ended up covering much more. I got to share some of the design philosophy and underlying features and principles that make eProductivity David Allen's recommended GTD solution for people that use Lotus Notes. Even if you are not a Lotus Notes user, you're sure to find value as we discuss the key features that make for an excellent GTD tool.
Podcast Description: GTD Coach Kelly Forrister and eProductivity Specialist Eric Mack discuss what makes an excellent GTD Implementation tool. Kelly describes the features of eProductivity that she and David Allen find most useful.
00 Introduction: Which GTD tool does David Allen use?
06 Lotus Notes: Nothing comes close for collaboration
09 Anyone can buy and use Lotus Notes
11 Eric explains the extraordinary features of Lotus Notes
17 The special sauce of eProductivity: extensive linking
18 The importance of simple reinforcements, e.g happy face/sad face
22 Is it better to learn GTD first or learn the software and then GTD?
27 E-mails linked to projects & actions remain fully usable as e-mails
28 Intelligent breadcrumbs available everywhere
29 Cut & paste is not productive; Eric hasn't used cut & paste in 2 yrs!
30 David Allen uses ActiveWords to control Lotus Notes/eProductivity
32 What about linking projects and actions on a mobile device?
34 Getting started with eProductivity - simply download, open, and go...
35 The Weekly Review Coach - helps you keep your system current
38 eProductivity is a complete GTD implementation tool
In the fast pace of today's business world, we are pressed to do more with less, to track more things and, well, get things done. Unfortunately, it's easy to get overwhelmed, miss something, and have things fall through the cracks. When that happens, you lose control and perspective and this can have a draining impact on your personal productivity, causing unpleasant ripples in your personal and professional life.
The solution is to hold the world back once a week so that you can do a thorough review of everything that you have (or should have) attention on. David Allen calls this, the Weekly Review. By completing a thorough review, you will feel a greater sense of control and perspective throughout the week and when you do it consistently it will transform the way you get things done.
The Weekly Review Process. It is the critical success factor for people that want to get things done.
This Thursday, May 28th, GTD Coach and fellow eProductivity user Kelly Forrister is leading the first Worldwide GTD Weekly Review. Kelly will be using Twitter to coach a global audience through the Weekly Review process.
Several bloggers have recently shared how they are using Lotus Notes as their system for Getting Things Done using David Allen's GTD Methodology. This weekend, Jens Bruntts wrote up an extensive blog post with screen shots detailing how he's using Lotus Notes and eProductivity as his GTD Solution. Not much I can add to this except that it was really neat to see eProductivity running under Linux (thanks to Lotus Notes cross-platform support). I'm aware that many people are using eProductivity on Mac and Linux but I have only seen a few screen shots.*
* Yes, I'm a Mack and yes, I'm Mac challenged. But I did make sure that eProductivity would run cross-platform so that I can switch at any time. The hard part will be finding equivalents for GyroQ and ActiveWords.
Capture fear is a known ailment among GTDers. Common symptoms include self-induced forgetfulness and a guilt complex. The cause is unknown, but some experts speculate that a compulsive desire to do whatever you wrote down, often immediately, is a leading factor in developing capture fear.
These people make every written thought into contract with themselves. When they are feeling overwhelmed, they simply stop capturing.
If you have capture fear, let me assure you that there is help. You can learn to capture your thoughts and save the doing for later. Or simply never do them all. Many other people just like you have been cured.
The key? 1. Recognize you have problem. Straight from the AA handbook. 2. Just stop it already. Stop. I mean it. Writing things down is not a binding contract. Treat them as suggestions, not laws. 3. become a GTD blackbelt. Learn to write your thoughts down and forget them immediately afterwards. Only remember them when you do your Weekly Review or look at your action lists. And get better at throwing items out. There is more to life than scratching items off a checklist. Guest Post by Ryan Heathers
The GTD Summit had a high-tech job board for Summit attendees. And what a smashing deal for potential employers! Hiring people who are committed to productivity is a great idea, especially in a down economy.
As a side-note, I’m guessing all the GTD pen-and-paper purists were probably thrilled to see this. I notice that no corners were torn off for some ad-hoc capture tool purposes. Those purists must have remembered to bring their GTD Notetaker Wallets with them to the Summit.
Guest Post by Ryan Heathers
PS. If you are a productivity oriented individual with a strong commitment to GTD and Lotus Notes keep eProductivity in mind. It's a growing company.
If you are a pro at the typewriter, you are a Stone Age relic. A silent film company competing for a Super Bowl ad slot.
Right? Well, let’s not be hasty.
The point is, be careful before adopting new technology into your main workflow systems. A computer word processer (generally) beats the typewriter by five lengths in the Productivity Derby, but not always in the short term sprint.
The typewriter vs. word processor is just an example. Being a pro at an old technology can be more productive than being a novice at a new technology. Unless you have the time and interest to waste spend time tinkering with new gadgets, revamping your system can be a black hole of time. And remember, not all new tech is progressive. Faster does not always mean better.
I thought it very telling that the majority of speakers and panelists at the Summit used paper and pen as their main capture tools. At least that was my perception.
Before adopting new tech, make sure the switching costs make sense. This is all common advice but applicable because the peer pressure to be on the cutting edge can be intense.
Meg Edwards of the David Allen Company posed that question to the audience in Eric's GTD breakout session: "GTD at Home."
I thought, great question.
Working with someone who is busy is one thing. Being busy is a signaling device that says this person’s skills are in demand. This person has credibility.
But overwhelmed is a whole different ball of wax. The overwhelmed person is not able to focus well on the projects at hand. I don’t trust the quality of his or her work.
GTD certainly makes you busy. I say that both tongue-in-cheek and from experience. When I first started GTD, it made me aware of my many projects that needed some action. I got busy and then quickly I got overwhelmed. I wasn’t familiar enough with my productivity system to handle the influx of new actionable items. That is one kind of crazy, the self-induced kind.
And then sometimes, things simply get crazy due to circumstances. The rest of life has to be put aside and the email inbox that is piling up has to be ignored while you work to get that One Mega Project taken care of. This is a second kind of crazy.
As Meg Edwards observed following her rhetorical question, GTD helps in both camps of “Crazy”. It give you a system to keep overwhelm from happening in the first place. And secondly, it gives a roadmap for getting back to sane once a crazy circumstance has subsided.
As I grown in my familiarity with GTD, I’m finding her words to be true.
It’s OK, you are not seeing double. Not really anyway.
This is Eric and his daughters, Wendy and Amy. Both Wendy and Amy are long-time GTD users and they have been instrumental in getting eProductivity ready for market. Much of the excellent help and tutorial files are their work.
They both did a wonderful job demo-ing eProductivity and chatting with Summit attendees. I’m grateful on a very personal level because with them handling the booth, I was able to go to most of the sessions. Thanks ladies!
This picture also goes to show that GTD is a cross-generational productivity juggernaut!
One creative slice of the Summit was the Coaches’ Theater. Now, I never really got to hear a presentation at the Coaches’ Theater, but judging by the rest of the Summit, I’m certain the material was excellent.
I sure hope not. I do recall my junior-high math teacher making an encouraging conjecture. She speculated that people are much less intelligent today than, oh, 5,000 years ago. The reason: genetic decline. You might say the gene pool just ain’t what it used to be.
But perhaps another threat to intelligent thought is lurking…
At the Summit, Ismael Ghalimi declared that, “Twitter is pure evil”. I heard a similar sentiment echoed by many of the speakers.
Two reasons I can see for making such a strong statement about Twitter: it can be an endless stream of distraction and it can promote quick, thoughtless blurbs.
At the GTD Summit, many people stopped by our booth. Many raved about eProductivity, but one of them fell in love with what she saw. Unfortunately, she was not a Notes user. In fact, she had not heard of Notes.
This smart woman decided that she had to have eProductivity and if that meant getting Notes, she would. I was both excited and frustrated -- Excited because I knew from our conversation that GTD along with Notes and eProductivity would be a big help t her. Frustrated because, at present, IBM does little to make it EASY for individuals (future Notes champions) to learn about, buy, and install Notes for personal use.
Two days later this enterprising individual sent an email to let me know that she had downloaded Lotus Notes and eProductivity and had self installed them. A few days later she informed me that she had dumped Outlook in favor of Notes and eProductivity. This isn't the first time this has happened but it's starting to happen more often.
Getting to see the eProductivity up on the big screens at the GTD Summit was quite a thrill. I wasn’t close enough to see Eric’s face but I’m sure he was grinning when the eProductivity logo displayed the first time. After all, eProductivity has been in the works a long time.
It’s been a journey. Too bad Ian, our principal software architect, couldn’t have seen it in person, but I’m sure he’s reading this blog carefully! Having David Allen, a long-time eProductivity user, and other GTD faithful riff on the merits of eProductivity and Lotus Notes during the conference was quite encouraging to boot.
I wonder how many people caught this: when David flashed screen shots of his personal task lists - those were from eProductivity!
A more colorful word for idea churning is percolation. Percolation serves to let your brain take other great ideas and common themes, and then mash them together to create that most hallowed of business goals: synergy.
A Summit panelist proposed an intermediate step in the GTD workflow process for percolation-needy items. The step would nestle in between Capturing and Next Action
But the problem is that percolation is not a natural GTD workflow step to grab hold of. Once you’ve captured an actionable idea, GTD says to either put it into a Next Action or throw the item onto a Someday/Maybe list (third option: delegate it). But percolation? It’s less tangible than a Next Action but more immediate than a Someday/Maybe. It’s critical to innovation but awkward to handle.
My personal solution has been to put “brainstorm” next actions into my Anywhere category. This still can suffer from out-of-sight, out-of-mind tendencies. Ideally, I want my really creative ideas to be bouncing around my head frequently, creating all kinds of synergistic magic.
The same panelist who opened the percolation can of worms also had this tidbit of advice: when you are doing a Weekly Review, prime your mind with 3-4 projects that you want to pay special attention to over the next week. Maybe this is a better way to do percolation. I’ll experiment.
When I think of GTD -- perhaps because I’m fairly new to the methodology—inspiring creative innovation is not the first benefit I think of. After all, productivity helps to get the nitty-gritty details done, accomplished, put away. It clears space in your mind for higher-level thoughts to occur. But actually inspire innovation? That seems like a logical leap.
GTD teaches you to capture thoughts whenever, wherever they occur. Black belt GTDers have a capture tool with them at all times.
Once you’ve become a pro at capturing your thoughts and putting them into a trusted system, the benefit to innovation becomes obvious.
Stepping back for moment, creativity is defined as coming up with a great idea. Innovation is defined as putting that creative idea into action. Of course, the two concepts are very tightly linked. Bottom line, though, is that in order to be innovative, you need to be creative first.
That’s where GTD helps by teaching you to always capture your thoughts.
It’s far easier to innovate when you’ve come up with half a dozen creative ideas for that looming project over the course of the last week. Or year. When you sit down at your computer, and the deadline is ticking to think up something excellent, you have a huge head start. So much of your thinking can be done already and you can comfortably slip into execution mode. You don’t have to wait for the innovation lighting to strike you.
A panelist at the session called this, “seeding your mind”.
So can creative innovation be scheduled?
Yes, if you’re using GTD capture principles to seed your mind for success.
My name is Ryan Heathers. I work at eProductivity with Eric Mack.
Eric invited me to guest author a series of blog posts covering the recent GTD Summit.
The first-ever GTD Summit was held two weeks ago in San Francisco and I was in attendance. Let me just say, it was fantastic! I had planned on blogging the event in real-time, but things got a little hectic between being an exhibitor and an attendee.
But nevertheless, the blogging was accomplished by drawing upon some extensive notes and a few pictures. The posts in the series vary between quick blurbs and medium-length thought pieces.
A lot of my writing assumes that you are familiar with GTD. If you are not, take a look at www.davidco.com for info straight from David Allen, GTD’s creator.
I gave up on Getting Things Done methodologies when I realized that, by saying no to urgent but ultimately unimportant tasks, I could keep all my "to dos" in my head. Or so I thought. I've discovered that I have a lot more "to do" lists than I realized. Here are some of them:
My work "to do" list, which I keep in a Lotus Notes task list because it replicates to my Blackberry
My personal "to do" list, which I keep in various formats, including scraps of paper and the new Google task list which integrates with GMail.
My blog "to do" list, which I keep in a separate GMail e-mail folder, because most of these "to dos" originate from e-mails
My GMail personal e-mail inbox, which consists of (a) e-mails to which I have yet to respond and (b) e-mails which are actually "to dos", and which should probably be with list 3, except that they are more urgent so I want to keep them in front of me.
My "books to buy" list
My "music to buy or download" list
My work Lotus Notes e-mail inbox, which consists of (a) e-mails to which I have yet to respond and (b) e-mails which are actually "to dos", and which should probably be with list 1, except that the e-mail provides a lot of detail on what needs to be done, so I can't be bothered to transcribe it to a "to do" list).
My work Lotus Notes Calendar, which consists of both (a) scheduled work and (b) personal appointments
Gmark Google Bookmark "to dos" consisting of (a) links to include in my next Links of Week, (b) links to pages I intend to read "when I have time" (i.e. never get around to these), (c) links to pages to add to my blogroll (actually belongs in list 3), and (d-e) links to books to buy and music to download (actually belong to lists 5 & 6).
My blog post ideas "to do" list
My "to read" hard copy piles
My voice mail "in-boxes", for my work and home numbers.
I could write a chapter on how I would organize this. For now, I'll share a few quick thoughts and invite my readers to share how they would tackle Dave's problem.
I'm still processing my thoughts from the GTD Summit. What an amazing event! In fact, it was probably the most inspiring (not to mention productive) conference I have attended. To be in one place with 400 people, including movers, shakers, thought leaders and GTDr's was definitely a high.
I'm not sure the audience caught it but when David Allen showed screen shots of his personal system. he was showing Lotus Notes and eProductivity. I know that Several people downloaded and installed Lotus Notes and eProductivity for the first time as a result. How cool.
Today was a great day at the GTD Summit. We are hanging out with some of the best and brightest people in the world - key thought leaders and leading innovators from around the world. The day was full of inspiring conversations. Some, however, were less than inspiring - at least until I got a new outlook on how to receive what I was hearing. Let me explain...
The first person I met today in the general session ask me what I do. As soon as I mentioned the software I used, his immediate response was "I hate Lotus Notes." I had several other equally inspiring conversations within just a few hours.
At first it bothered me - I almost felt that I should somehow apologize for using Notes (or the fact that I really enjoy doing so).
Then, mid-morning, I remembered a lesson I learned from Zig Ziglar.
People never change their minds. But, they do make new decisions when provided with new information.
I decided to make it a challenge to see if I could help as many people make new decisions about what they thought about Lotus Notes.
We had many people stop by the eProductivity exhibit, some because they simply wandered over and others because they heard David Allen talk about how he "loves Lotus Notes." and how he uses eProductivity. (They apparently figure that if David Allen uses and recommends IBM Lotus Notes there must be something about Notes that they are missing.) In any case, however they get to the exhibit, they arrive with either a question or a comment. Some were excited about Notes and some were frustrated about Notes. I met several of each today. The people I really enjoyed meeting, however, were the self-proclaimed Notes haters.
The GTD Summit kicks off this evening and I've decided to make a special offer to commemorate the event. In short, for every individual license of eProductivity purchased, I'll provide not one but two license keys.
Now you can increase your own productivity and help a colleague get things done at the same time.
I'm very excited to participate in the first GTD Summit. As with my recent trip to Lotusphere, I will be wearing three hats: Attendee, Exhibitor and Panel Moderator
This year, I will be moderating the "GTD at Home: From the Board Room to the Living Room" discussion panel. If you have a question you would like to ask the panel, please post it here. IBM Blogger Chris Blatnick will be attending as well. Between Chris and Ryan on our team I'm sure the event will be well covered. Also be sure to keep an eye on the GTD Times site as they will have live updates, too.
I'm also excited that we will get to meet several of our eProductivity customers there. If you are planning to attend the GTD Summit, please plan to stop by and say hello, You can find me in the above session on Thursday and at the exhibit with Amy and Wendy during the week. Look for this sign:
Need a ticket to the GTD Summit? Here's an opportunity you won't want to miss.
It should be a lively session. I'm looking forward to it!
The GTD Summit is shaping up to be the conference to attend for 2009!
P.S. Thinking about buying eProductivity licenses for your team? Remember, if you purchase a workgroup license of eProductivity, I'll give you a pass to the GTD Summit. If you are on the fence, this is a great opportunity. (See details)
Next week, my sister Amy and I will be accompanying our father to the GTD Summit; we will be assisting him at the eProductivity pedestal in the product showcase. We will help people learn how we use Notes, eProducivity and Mr. Allen's GTD methodology to get things done.
As part of my preparation, I created two documents to help my sister and me prepare for the Summit. I have learned that it is helpful to map out the people we might meet and connect this to a picture so that if we meet them we have a reference point. So that is what I did.
My father encouraged me to share these maps on his blog so that whoever is interested can use them to plan for the conference.
The first mind map contains all of the information relevant to the GTD Summit (speakers, agenda, exhibitors, etc.) 20090301_GTD_Summit_Planning_Map_(Wendy_Mack).mmap
The the second map contains information about key people at the David Allen Company - many of whom will be attending the Summit. 20090301_GTD_Summit_DavidCo_Key_People_Map_(Wendy_Mack).mmap
I hope that this information helps. My sister and I look forward to helping and learning.
Update: I created these in MindManager 7. Use the free MindManager viewer to read these maps.
This post is not for everyone, (there is a string attached), but if you want to attend the GTD summit and you use Lotus Notes, it may be of interest to you.
In short, to promote the public release of eProductivity, I've decided to purchase several passes to the GTD Summit and give them away to people that purchase eProductivity. With the special Lotusphere discounts, if you are planning to attend the Summit it is actually cheaper to purchase eProductivity for your team and get the free GTD Summit registration than it is to purchase a single pass to the Summit! (Details here.)
So, there it is: You can attend the GTD Summit and you and your team can use the same GTD implementation software that David Allen and his team use to get things done with Lotus Notes. I cannot think of a better value, especially in this economy. (Read my previous blog post about the GTD Summit.)
Please help me spread the word. Thanks.
P.S. Blogging has been very light these days. That's not for a lack of draft topics - I still have a bunch from Lotusphere. It's simply a matter of a lot to do this month. The public software launch, graduate studies, and teaching a course in Business Driven Technology have all kept me busy. I am Twittering a little (as part of my KM Research) so you can find me there. I'll be back to the blogging by the end of the month. Meanwhile, I would appreciate it if you would help me spread the word about eProductivity.
We no longer live in a make-it-and-move-it society where productivity can be measured by parts produced, raw materials consumed or time spent. For knowledge work, we need a new productivity equation. In my public seminars, I present just such an equation:
VALUE = Knowledge x Methodology x Technology
I've blogged about this formula before, so I won't go into detail here, but I do want to point out two things: First, notice that the value created is the result of not one but three factors: Knowledge, Methodology, and Technology (or tools). Each play an important role in the productivity equation. Second, these factors are multipliers - changing any one of them has the potential to greatly effect the outcome or "value" created.
Unfortunately, many people focus on the tools they use or even what they know while giving little attention to the methodology - the process - they use to get things done.
It's in economic times like this when the improved productivity of organizations and the people within them becomes critical. It's also in these times that our ability to maintain personal focus and control are key to success. I've blogged a lot about my success using the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology an important part of my personal productivity tool kit. My friend and long-time client, David Allen, creator of this methodology, has been a pioneer in finding ways to increase our productivity by changing the way we think about the work we do.
If you are planning to be at Lotusphere, you are in for a treat! Stop by pedestal #722, say hello and hand us your business card. Then, pick up your Lotusphere 2009 resource CD from the Notes on Productivity Blog.
This CD contains the presentation slides from my Lotusphere presentation (BP304) with David Allen, a number of GTD Documents from the David Allen Company, two recent podcasts on using Notes productively, (courtesy of Bruce Elgort and Michael Sampson), links to useful resources, and a special gift from eProductivity.
This is my way of saying "Thank you" to the Notes community and for stopping by to say hello! I look forward to meeting you!
Remember: eProductivity, Pedestal #722 in the Lotusphere Product Showcase. See you soon!
Industry analyst, Michael Sampson, recently interviewed David Allen about his use of Lotus Notes, and today has published the almost one-hour long discussion. During the podcast, Michael and David talk about: how David uses Lotus Notes in his company, what he thinks of Notes and the tools he uses, and David's upcoming presentation at Lotusphere.
At the end of the podcast, Michael puts his IT analyst hat on and shares his thoughts about why he thinks Lotus Notes works so well for David Allen and his company.
Here's an opportunity to listen to two very smart (and productive) people talk about Lotus Notes!
One of the productivity exercises I try to go through at least once each new year is to clear the decks of my productivity workspace. What that means is I remove from my office everything that isn't supplies, reference material, or decoration. I dump it into boxes and move it into the next room. What you see here is the result of that first step. this is my productivity cockpit, my flight deck for productive work....
In these photos, you can see that my desk surrounds me and I have everything I need to work effectively. (I'll blog more about the tools later, for now I simply want to share what the decks looks like when they are clear.)
The next step is to bring things back into my office and put them into the appropriate places. Much of the "stuff" that I bring back is in piles - books and reviewing or researching, papers, project files, stacks of mystery read/review items, and piles of scraps of ambiguous stuff. The rule is - and this is important - I cannot bring anything back in without putting it into the proper place. To do this, I throw all of the collected items into my physical in basket to process.
Then, I remove one item from the top* and answer two questions:
David Allen teaches that one of the most important parts of his Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology is the weekly review. It's an opportunity to pick up, cleanup, and regain control and perspective across the horizons of our commitments. For those of us that resort to post-its (I won't mention any names, Alan) it's an opportunity to get those into a trusted system, too.
At the end of each year, I like to review my systems to see what I can clean up and what I can improve upon for the coming year. I start with an extended weekly review, which often turns into a week-long review. If you are unfamiliar with the weekly review process, here are the steps that I follow, inspired by David Allen's helpful GTD Weekly Review Audio Series: Steps to a successful GTD Weekly Review.
Collect Loose Papers
Empty Capture Tools
Review Action Lists
Review Previous Calendar
Review Upcoming Calendar
Review Tickler Files
Review Waiting-For List
Review Goals and Objectives
Review Areas of Focus
Review Relevant Checklists
Review Reference & Support Material
Review Someday/Maybe List
Sadly, for some of us, (myself included at times), the weekly review has turned a weakly review. Even though I have built a Weekly Review Coach into my Lotus Notes software for getting things done, it doesn't do the review for me - it's still up to me to do that.
A few months ago, we received a call from the lead elf and part-time IT Director at the North Pole. Apparently Santa needed an effective way to track his projects and actions.
To my delight, I learned that Santa and the elves use Lotus Notes as their collaboration platform! Naturally, I recommended that Santa try eProductivity, which he did.
This morning, I received a Skype call from the big man himself. He called to thank me for my help getting him set up. I asked him if I could have a few screen shots for my blog so that I could show you how he uses Notes and eProductivity to get things done. I guess Santa was in a jolly mood, because 10 minutes later, I received these three screen shots:
IT folks are not keen on feeding an end user frenzy. They fear the end user application that will grow and need the IT resources to support it. IT resources/costs are watched like no other. We lock down the end users from adding new databases to our servers which limits their ability to collaborate to the magnitude that David envisions.
Has an IT executive ever been fired for recommending a Microsoft solution? On the other side of that. People who push alt-Microsoft technologies are taking a risk.
The pool of resources available for supporting Lotus Notes is small and getting smaller. Management has little choice but to move to other technologies because they can't find resources for Notes.
I think Curt's explanations are reasonable explanations but if they are indeed correct, I think they are poor excuses for management, including CTOs, CIOs or CLOs tasked with improving the productivity of the organization and ensuring that their people get the most benefit from the tools available to them.
This reminds me of something I once heard Business Expert Zig Ziglar say about companies that made excuses for not training their employees:
"There's only one thing worse than training your people to be productive [with tools, like Lotus Notes] and losing them...
that's not training them and keeping them."
Unfortunately, I think Curt may be right about some companies on the first point. As far as point #3, it doesn't take much to get significantly more from Lotus Notes, often just a paradigm shift in how people think about their work and the tools that they use.
Gmail labs recently added a new application called, cleverly enough, "Tasks," which brings task management inside of Gmail. If you afre someone who lives in Gmail, then having your tasks there too, makes a lot of sense. If you use Gmail and you understand the principles of David Allen's GTD methodology, then this really makes a lot of sense. (This is the same reason we built eProductivity around the Lotus Notes In-box: we wanted to help people to manage their stuff by making it easy for them to process their incoming items at the point of entry.)
I'm not a Gmail user so I can't say anything about the quality of their implementation, but if you use Gmail, it's probably worth checking out.
Here's an opportunity to get a preview of the next generation of David's popular GTD RoadMap training at no cost. In less than two weeks, David Allen will be speaking at UCLA and you're invited!
On December 13th the David Allen Company is presenting a special event, Q&A, and book signing with David Allen. This special program is also the kick off for David’s new book, Making it All Work as well as a new GTD marketing campaign for 2009. (David's goal is to reach a broader audience, which is why he's asked me to extend the invitation to everyone who reads my blog.) I'm sure this will be a treat. Schedule permitting, I plan to attend as well.
Details: Registration begins at 9AM and the event runs from 9:30 to 12:30. They will be filming this event and will invite people to share testimonials if they want. Plan to come dressed in business casual attire.
I have a long-standing interest in devices and applications that increase mobile knowledge worker productivity, particularly those that support the GTD methodology and can sync with Lotus Notes. The problem is that most of the devices that I have used to date fail in one or both categories. For this reason, I have continued use and recommend the Treo 755p for power GTD users that want a powerful mobile list manager that seamelessly integrates with Lotus Notes. It's not that the Treo is the best mobile platform out there. It isn't. It simply has the best native list manager for managing projects and actions using the GTD methodology.
Since I know that someone will object to my statement, let me explain what I want in a mobile list manager: I want to click one button and see my list of projects and actions, sorted by context. I do not want to have to click Start, Run, and then click a bunch of options to find my tasks. I also want these views and the way I set them up to be persistent, which rules out two of the most popular device families on the market today. I don't mind using third party solutions to accomplish this, but for some devices, like the Nokia Series, they simply do not exist. I find it amazing that devices marketed to the business professional and equipped with so many productivity features would be so lacking in this vital component of productivity: list management.
For years, David Allen and I have discussed this: why do manufacturers make great hardware and then drop the ball when it comes to the suitability of their list management and task integration? (David uses a 755p, also.) I think it must be that manufacturers are expecting people to purchase based on the shiny features and not on what they can accomplish with the device. Earlier this year, a client generously gave me a shiny new Nokia E90 Communicator as a thank you gift. The E90 is a truly amazing mobile productivity device. Except, it has two problems: No task management. Zip. Zilch. Nada. (Unless you count their lame recording of a task as a note in a calendar event) and no reliable over-the-air sync of tasks to Lotus Notes. David and I played with this device this summer and agreed that while it sported an impressive list of hardware features it was essentially useless for us as a mobile GTD support tool. So, into pile of "really cool devices that I cannot use" it went. I hoped that someday, I might find a solution that would allow me to test this device as a list manager with Notes.
I have a very special opportunity that involves my client, The David Allen Company. In short, I have been asked to nominate a few people to participate in a special program. There's no cost and the benefits are huge. You'll be asked to share and blog about your experience. I can nominate 3 people. If you are an established Notes blogger with a serious interest in personal productivity, I'd like to hear from you and see some of your personal productivity blog posts that you have written. You know where to find me.
Here's an outstanding way to boost your productivity: Oliver Starr recently announced a contest on the GTD Times web site to win a Full Day Executive Coaching from The David Allen Company. I've been fortunate to have received this coaching in years past and it was a very positive and productive experience for me. Meg Edwards was my coach and she worked with me to help tune my systems and habits to become more effective.
I know many of the people on the David Allen team personally and I can say that they are a sharp group of intelligent individuals who are skilled at showing people how to get things done. Unlike a public seminar, where you will learn how to implement the David's GTD methodology in your life, in the workflow coaching you will experience what it's like to actually get things done while learning how to sustain the process.
At the risk of sounding like a commercial spokesman, I'll stop at this: I think the workflow coaching is an extraordinary value. The opportunity to enter a contest to receive this coaching for free is almost unbelievable. The contest ends tonight. Details here.
Many excellent proposals have been submitted for Lotusphere 2009. Whether you plan to attend Lotusphere in person or watch the broadcasts and read the blogs after the fact, as part of the community it's your civic responsibility to understand the topics and cast your vote for the session's you would most like to see - or not see - on the Lotusphere agenda.
KMWorld is just two weeks away. Last year, Steve Barth and I presented a workshop on Personal KM. Steve's moved on to other things, so this year I've invited a Paul Heisig, from Disney, to join me in presenting this workshop.
On Monday, September 22, (1:30 p.m - 4:30 p.m.) Paul and I will be presenting a workshop on Personal KM:
Personal Knowledge Management & Productivity Paul Heisig - The Walt Disney Company Eric Mack, eProductivity Specialist - ICA.COM This workshop illustrates how personal knowledge management (PKM) can make a lasting impact on the enterprise. Workshop leaders take a look at how productive knowledge work evolves from individuals, teams, and organic communities to ultimately impact the entire organization. It offers an overview of potential entry points for the individual knowledge worker and explores the top challenges that companies and those individual employees face, including the variety of collaboration vehicles offered in the marketplace. Discussion and categorization of the emerging collaboration technologies includes how to apply them to the individual user to fit into the larger enterprise road map. The workshop discusses key success factors and lessons learned; insights from past industry project implementations; and takes a fresh look at the successful habits, tools, methodologies, strategies, and techniques of knowledge work in a Web and Enterprise 2.0 world.
If you're planning to attend the conference, let me know - it would be nice to meet you in person.
The Notes community is buzzing with proposals for sessions for Lotusphere 2009. The IdeaJam site is busy with ideas and people are voting to show their interest (or lack thereof) in various topics. I think that this is a great use of IdeaJam to serve the Notes community.
This session would look at some of the best practices of information and knowledge organization as well as how to effectively manage projects and actions with Lotus Notes.
Last year, I proposed a session on Maximizing Personal Productivity with Lotus Notes, but with so many excellent developer and admin tracks last year, this topic was considered outside of the scope of interest for Lotusphere. (Lotusphere is more administrator and developer oriented.) Still, it seems to me that even developers and admins (and the people they serve) need to be productive.
I'm not sure if Lotusphere is the proper venue for a session that is not specifically focused on admin/dev topics. If there are enough votes to make this interesting, I'll rework my proposal and perhaps even talk to David Allen to see if he'd like to co-present this with me. Right now, I'm curious to see if there's sufficient interest to warrant further development of this session topic for Lotusphere 2009.
Note: This session, if approved, would focus on best practices for using Lotus Notes that do not require any third party applications. The goal is to present best practices that can be applied right away with any version of Lotus Notes. I would plan to mention some of the add-on tools that people are using to increase their productivity with Notes (.e.g. OpenNTF Mail Experience or eProductivity) but the primary focus will be to show people how to get more done with what the version of Notes that they already have installed on their computer.
Question: When you identify important projects, do you clearly define the successful outcome? Do you clearly describe, either in the project title or description what success, even "wild success" will look like? If you are not doing this, you are missing out on perhaps the most powerful productivity tool available to help you accomplish your goals and dreams: your brain. In fact, if you don't regularly do this, you're leaving your brain in park, when it could be driving you to accomplish wild success.
Visualizing the Successful Outcome Many years ago, David Allen shared with me that one of the first things he did when planning his first book, the best-selling, Getting Things Done, was to write the Wall Street Journal review of his book, first. He wrote the book review as he would like it to appear in print, even before writing the first chapters of his book. For many years, I've written my projects in the past tense -- as if they were "done" and I found that helped me to "see" done as the objective. I thought that David's example of writing a formal review of his book project was very clever and a powerful visualization tool, so I made note of it.
My Personal Application When I set out to develop my eProductivity software, I followed David's recommendation and decided to write my own review. I decided to summarize the product in two sentences, each from the perspective of a different audience. eProductivity is built on Lotus Notes, so I decided that the Notes community would provide one perspective. Since eProductivity embodies many of the principles that I learned from David's book, I decided that the GTD community should provide the other.
Buzz is always an interesting guy to visit with. To refer to him the CEO of ActiveWords is too limiting. Buzz is perhaps the best networker in the tech world - he's certainly the most prolific. (There are probably only 2-3 degrees of separation between Buzz and anyone in the tech world you'd want to meet.) I've had the opportunity to work with Buzz on several occasions as we share a common passion for all things mind mapping, GTD, and productivity.
Buzz and I first began talking about adding ActiveWords support for Lotus Notes several years ago. We finally did it and, with ActiveWords and eProductivity, millions of Notes Users can finally control the most productive aspects of Lotus Notes, from anywhere - even when Notes isn't running! I wonder if he will demonstrate or talk about ActiveWords and Notes on the show? (Hint to Buzz)
Anyway, here's the link to the live broadcast. I believe the replay will be up shortly, too.
A few days ago, I posted an eProductivity Preview Invitation for folks to see what we have done to create the ultimate GTD implementation tool for Lotus Notes. As part of the sign-up, I asked folks a number of questions, including which version of Lotus Notes. Here are the results so far.
As you can see, there are concentrations at each end of the spectrum with pockets for each version. This is to be expected. This is not a comprehensive survey, but it is interesting to see what the folks most interested in getting things done with Notes are using. Fortunately, we have coded eProductivity to support versions 6.02 - 8.5x of Lotus Notes across all platforms (yes, even Mac and Linux).
I plan to update this over time to see what more we can learn.
The sign-ups for the eProductivity preview program continue to pour in. We decided to increase the # of preview kits we will offer to 200 so that everyone that completes the application will be able to participate.
It's been interesting to read the forms that people have filled out to learn who uses Windows (99%) and who uses Mac (< 1%) and which versions of Notes folks are using. (Lots of activity in Notes R6.x and R8.x) and what challenges people face trying to get things done in Lotus Notes. I'll have lots to share as times goes on.
Meanwhile, I'd like to offer a special thanks to the bloggers that have picked this up, and I encourage you to visit their blogs:
(If I have missed anyone, please let me know. If you are a GTD or Notes blogger, let me know and I'll add you to our pre-launch list.)
I am preparing the preview kits and will send them out in batches of 25 as the completed applications are received. I plan to send the first batch tomorrow morning.
Some folks wrote with questions, e.g. what versions of Notes?, will I get a free trial?, etc.. I refer you to the eProductivity Preview Invitation which has all of the details. (Be sure to scroll down the page as there is a lot to read.)
Thanks, I look forward to posting great news, soon.
My blogging's been pretty limited for the past six months -- I've been hard at work on the public launch of eProductivity™ for Lotus Notes®
As you may know, we completed the eProductivity beta program in early January, 2008 and for the past six months we have been doing pilot programs with various companies around the world. Now, we are getting ready to share eProductivity with the public. (I know, it's been a long time.)
People in the pilot program tell us that they recover up to 30-minutes each day in time spent processing their email or managing their projects and actions. They also love the Weekly Review Coach that we have built into eProductivity. I think it's the ultimate GTD® implementation tool for Lotus Notes; however, don't take my word for it. I'll leave that for you to decide. I’m about ready to push the GO button and formally launch the commercial version of eProductivity.
Before I do, I want to make sure that our end-user download and evaluation process is easy to understand. I’ve decided to invite the first 100 people that respond to participate in a 24-hour preview of eProductivity.
I'm at home today, preparing for an important eProductivity meeting. I just emailed the following meeting confirmation and three questions to the 10 people who plan to attend. The first two questions are relevant to anyone that wants to implement the GTD methodology in Notes:
As I prepare for Wednesday's meeting, I want to make sure that I show you things that you will find useful - things which you can take back and put into practice right away.
I have 3 very quick questions to help me prepare... These questions assume that you are already using, have tried using, or are considering using Lotus Notes as your GTD Implementation tool.
1. What is a key frustration to successfully managing projects and actions in Lotus Notes? (e.g. What gets in the way of doing this easily?)
2. If you could have any feature you wanted in Notes to support you in better managing your actions and projects, what would that be? (e.g. What's missing? What would help you be even more productive with Notes?)
3. What would you most like to learn about at Wednesday's meeting? (Please agenda, attached.)
Thank you for your comments.
The meeting will be in two parts. The agenda is below.
These guys, lurking at the back of the room aren't playing video games, at least I hope not. They are two of the newest team members at The David Allen Company, John Ward and Chris McIntyre. Both seasoned presenters, they are here to audit Kelly's class and sharpen their GTD presentation skills. We enjoyed a nice lunch together; I look forward to seeing them in action, soon.
Kelly just gave us a tour on how to setup Notes and Outlook as GTD implementation tools. Even though I think I know this stuff, I still learn new things and I got to share a few tips of my own. Listening to some of the questions from the audience inspired a few new ideas for features I plan to build into eProductivity for Lotus Notes to make getting things done with Lotus Notes easier. I've got those items on my agenda list to discuss with my dev team.
The seminar is going well, Kelly's in peak form, people are learning and laughing at the stories she's sharing from her work in the GTD trenches. (Example: Most full e-mail box? 87,000 emails. True story from Kelly.)
Well, time to get back to the seminar. I'll try to post another highlight, soon.
Kelly just gave an interesting illustration of thinking about projects from a...z.
Here's how this works: Z represents the successful outcome - what your project will look like when done. A represents the next single physical action to take to move forward.
b...y represents any additional action steps (but not the next action) along the way.
Now, here's the secret: Z (the project) goes on your project list. A (the next action) goes on the appropriate action list. Everything else (b...y) needs to be parked somewhere, but if they are not next actions they do not belong on your current working list.
I'm in Newport Beach today, attending the GTD Mastering Workflow Seminar. Although I've been to about a dozen GTD and MAP* seminars over the past 15 years, I continue to learn something new each and every time I attend.
Kelly Forrister is our presenter today, so I'm certain it will be a great day of learning and fun with a group of people committed to getting things done at work and play. I've had the good fortune to work with Kelly at four different organizations over the past 15 years. She's as passionate as I am about productivity and she's also a geek and we share a mutual interest for high-tech gear to support our productive lifestyle. (If you haven't done so, check out Kelly's blog.) Oh, and did I mention that Kelly uses Lotus Notes? She and I have been using Lotus Notes productivity since the early R3/R4 days.
The timing couldn't be better for me, as I'm in the process of doing a product analysis and writing copy for eProductivity for Lotus Notes, my own GTD implementation tool for Lotus Notes. In addition to my own criteria, I plan to run vanilla Notes and eProductivity for Lotus Notes through Kelly criteria and see how they fare. I'll post my thoughts here, in a future blog post.
GTD Times recently (and quietly) launched. I've been asked to be a guest contributor; I'll be in great company.
This is a GTD Community planned in part by my late friend Marc Orchant. Marc and I had spoken about this project and I'm delighted to see it continue on, if nothing else as a tribute to a topic he was so passionate about. - GTD. GTD Times is now in the capable hands of his friend, Oliver Starr.
GTD Times promises to become the premier go to site for all things GTD, and I'm excited to be a part of the community.
I'll start contributing to GTD Times, shortly. (I'll still be blogging here,too.)
I'm honored to be a part of the GTD Times team.
You can read Oliver's welcome and introduction, here.
Behind the scenes, things remain busy as we work with clients that are currently getting things done with Lotus Notes and eProductivity using David Allen's GTD methodology.
At the end of last year, we completed the eProductivity beta program, and at the end of this month, we will wrap up a four-month eProductivity workgroup pilot program. We are now getting ready to turn on the web site so that the world can see what we've been up to. We still have some work to do on promotional materials, strategic partner relationships and training people to become future eProductivity coaches to support enterprise deployments.
I've decided to make eProductivity available both as purchased or subscription software so that users may choose the option that will serve them best. I'm going to need a bunch of people to test the new license activation system, if you'd like to help and (get a free preview of eProductivity at the same time), contact me.
There's a lot to be learned from reading books and attending seminars. I routinely do both. But when I really want to improve my skills or performance in a given area I turn to a coach, a mentor, or an expert that can help me accomplish my objectives. I think it's important to understand that hiring a productivity coach is not a magic bullet for getting things done. YOU have to do the work, but a good coach can help you see what may not be readily apparent to you and encourage you to build sustainable habits. (I'll talk more about sustainable habits at the end of this post.)
Here's what I wrote to the person who asked me about getting things done on the run...
As you learn more about GTD, you'll come to appreciate the value of getting everything out of your head and into a system you can trust no matter wherever you are and find a tool to support you. To do this, it's important that you equip yourself with tools that support you wherever you are; at home, the office, or on-the-go. I recommend at least one analog tool and often at least one digital tool, depending on your mobile information management needs. If you are someone that always has a computer available to you 24x7, then this section may not be useful. Lotus Notes does a great job of keeping information synchronized across distributed computers. On the other hand, if you are like me, you spend at least some part of your work day "out and about" and you need a way to keep your GTD lists and related information with you so that you can work from your lists, and manage your work.
Let's discuss the mobility aspect of getting things done while on the run...
We've touched on the productivity equation and we've looked at how methodology is the first component of the equation. Now, we'll look at the technology or tools that you use. Since you've already selected GTD as your methodology (a decision I wholeheartedly agree with) you now need to find a GTD implementation tool that will support you in the way that you work. From my email:
II. Choose your GTD implementation tool and master it From 3x5 card to paper planner to MAC/PC to BlackBerry -- there are a range of solutions. The brilliance of GTD, I think, is that it's platform agnostic so you can manage using the GTD methodology just as well on a napkin or using custom software. What you need to find is a very good list manager, something that is easy to use, is easy to integrate with your existing workflow, and is fast. Most important, it must be something you can trust.
We discussed your use of Lotus Notes at your company. I think Lotus Notes is a powerful tool for personal knowledge and action management. It also happens to be the tool of choice for me and for the The David Allen Company. (Disclosure, The David Allen Company is an ICA client and David is a good geek friend - I designed and deployed their Notes collaboration infrastructure and have supported David and his team for the past 15 years, so I'm a little biased as to the power of Lotus Notes.) Many people are successfully using GTD with Lotus Notes in a variety of ways.
Whether you are conscious of it or not, you have a methodology, a system, a habit for how you get your work done. Some methodologies, systems, and habits will be more productive than others; some can even be counter productive. I began this series by writing an email to help someone get started using Lotus Notes as his implementation tool for David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology.
Over the years, I've learned several approaches to knowledge work but to date I have found none that made more sense and was more sustainable for me than GTD. It wasn't always this way. I used to find Stephen Covey's 7-Habits approach to be ideal and while I think it is an excellent approach for planning, I was unable to sustain it on a day to day basis and I often felt bad that my day to day actions were not getting me closer to my goals and vision. That's not to say that Covey's approach doesn't work - it does, but it was a great deal for me to maintain. Covey takes a top-down approach to productivity, starting with the desired outcome ("Begin with the end in mind") and then working down to daily actions that line up to support those goals. On paper that makes sense to me as the best way to go. In real life, however, it was hard to do, because, well, life happens. David Allen's approach starts at the bottom - clearing the decks -- so that you can think freely about the bigger picture stuff. I've been working with GTD since long before the GTD moniker and I can tell you that it is sustainable. What do I use today? A little of both. The foundation of my work style is built on the GTD methodology, while Covey has certainly influenced the values and planning aspects of my work and life.
OK, let's get practical: My advice for getting started with the GTD Methodology:
In my eProductivity Seminars I always begin by introducing my eProductivity equation for knowledge worker productivity:
KWP = M x T x K
Put another way:
Knowledge Worker Productivity [or results] = Methodology x Technology x Knowledge
That is, the outcome of any project will be influenced (one way or the other) by how well you use and apply (your methodology) your knowledge and tools to the problem at hand.
I believe GTD provides an outstanding framework for managing work productively - the methodology; I think that Lotus Notes can be a powerful tool for information, action, and knowledge management -- the technology. As far as what your knowledge... only you know that.
Think about how this equation applies to your knowledge work. What are your methodologies (defined or undefined)? What tools do you use?
How does what you know influence the work that you do?
Last week, an executive at a large global consulting firm with over 100K Lotus Notes users called me to ask for help getting up to speed with GTD and Notes. He told me that he was feeling overwhelmed at work with a growing number of projects and responsibilities and in his pursuit of a solution he had found and read David Allen's book, Getting Things Done. He was also aware that while Lotus Notes is an excellent tool for messaging, collaboration, and information management, it wasn't supporting him in the way that he needed. He was calling to get eProductivity for Lotus Notes and some coaching to help him set up Notes to be more productive. After a fruitful conversation, and my promise to help him, he asked me, "How can I ramp up quickly with GTD & Lotus Notes?" Continue Reading ""How can I ramp up quickly with GTD & Lotus Notes?"" »
Zig Ziglar tells a story of how for 40 years of his life he chose to be fat. That's right. You see, according to Ziglar, he never accidentally ate anything.
Last year, I realized that when it comes to the internet (among other things) I was choosing to be fat. I was consuming more Internet calories than I needed and it wasn't even the good stuff. Worse yet, like junk food, the Internet -- the very tool that had enabled my high-tech lifestyle -- was distracting me from getting things done. So, at the beginning of 2008, I decided to reduce my daily internet intake in order to improve my productivity.
What I expected to be a one-month experiment turned into a 3-month adventure and I learned a lot along the way...
I recently sent out a call for productivity-minded people that want to implement David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology in Lotus Notes to join the eProductivity Workgroup Pilot program. eProductivity came out of beta a month ago and now I'm doing the research on enterprise deployments to learn how they are using and benefitting from eProductivity and how I can facilitate deployments. The eProductivity workgroup pilot program is for workgroups of 10-20 people and allows me to personally coach a group of people and learn from them as they start getting things done in Notes. To help them get started, I offered to host private webinars for these pilot sites to assist them in the process of learning to use eProductivity.
This week, I delivered the first of several private webinars, this one for an eProductivity Workgroup Pilot at a large organization on the East Cast. Most of the people on the call were technically savvy but many were new to the GTD methodology.
Using some slides from last year's eProductivity Conference, I began by presenting a brief overview of my eProductivity Equation and some of the GTD principles and concepts that I have found most helpful. Then, we took a tour of some of the key eProductivity features. Finally, we wrapped up with an extended time of Q&A. We did not cover all of eProductivity but we laid a foundation for future webinars.
After the call, I asked my host if I could share the audio portion of the webinar with other eProductivity users; she graciously agreed...
I've received some interesting requests for eProductivity but none as original as the one I received this morning:
Re: eProductivity for Lotus Notes and GTD
Hello from Denmark :-)
I have told Santa that I would really really like to have a copy of eProductivity for Lotus Notes.
He said that I have been a good boy so I should contact you directly to request a preview....
I've had people contact me directly or via a friend to get into the eProductivity preview program, but this is the first request that I know of that solicited Santa's help. A novel approach to be sure.
The title of this post is in response to a comment on Michael Dolan's recent blog post sharing his experience coaching team of people that are using Lotus Notes as a trusted system for GTD. Michael's post is worth reading, because he talks about the importance of being the master of your domain: knowing and controlling what crosses over the transom. Specifically, Michael addresses the issue of delegated tasks, not just in Lotus Notes but in general, and how difficult it can be to use well as a team. (You should read Michael's original post and my response.)
What caught my eye, however, and the topic I wish to address today is whether or not it is possible to build a trusted system out of Lotus Notes. You see, a reader of Michael's blog, Doug Ransom, had this to say in a comment he posted:
... I think it is near impossible to build a trusted system out of Lotus Notes, which is why my assistants print everything out. We just cant trust Lotus Notes as a bring-forward system. I often find myself writing down the important stuff to do today on a piece of paper because there is no way in Lotus Notes to capture "this must be done today if possible". It is just too cumbersome to effectively review the lists.
Everyone I know who switched to Lotus Notes from Outlook dropped off the GTD bandwagon. I am moving towards simply using Lotus to-dos for a "-waiting" category; anything I assign to my assistant or anyone else goes into this list. I'll go to some other system (paper, excel, or perhaps daylight (from marketcircle) for my GTD system. ...
Where do I begin? You already know, from the title of my blog, that I'm going to defend Lotus Notes as a productivity tool. But what else do I have to say? Lots.
First of all, I think it's important to separate the methodology from the technology (the tool). In my eProductivity seminars and coaching, I begin by teaching my eProductivity equation: productivity = knowledge * methodology * technology
I'm delighted to see David Allen on the front page of CNN's technology section, this morning. I remember meeting with David and a group of advisors under the Oaks, in 1997. David share his vision to positively impact the world. I'm thrilled to be able to play a very small part in that and to have enjoyed a front row seat for what's proven to be an exciting adventure.
For those of you already familiar with David Allen and GTD, there's nothing new in this article. For those who read my blog who've not heard of either, you need to read it.
Congratulations, David! I'm proud of you and delighted to be a part of your team.
If you use Lotus Notes and the GTD methodology, you'll be pleased to know that the long awaited GTD and Lotus Notes implementation guide is now available. My colleague, Kelly Forrister, and her team worked hard to assemble a valuable collection of tips and tricks for using the Lotus Notes Calendar, Email, Personal Journal, and To Do's more effectively.
David Allen and I began using Lotus Notes long before The David Allen Company first opened its doors. Over the years, I've not only learned for myself what works and what does not, I've had the privilege to watch other highly productive people use Lotus Notes effectively. I think Kelly's done a great job of collecting some this wisdom in one place. Continue Reading "The GTD and Lotus Notes Implementation Guide is here!" »
Yesterday, I spent 12 hours processing 117 emails in one client folder alone. This was the second pass at my in-box and these were the hard emails - the ones I had dragged there because I knew they would take more than 2 minutes to complete. I finally went to bed with an empty folder, in fact I deleted the folder. This morning, my SameTime IM window popped up with a message from my colleague, Robert Peake, the unwilling recipient of many of the emails I had sent the day earlier. Here's the transcript: Continue Reading "A new two-minute rule for email" »
Here's a useful application for Blackberry users: S4BB recently released Next Action!, a replacement task application for the BlackBerry that claims to make it more GTD friendly.
The web site indicates that this new task application will maintain compatibility with existing desktop applications, such as Outlook and Lotus Notes. I've not had the opportunity to verify this yet, but this sounds like a promising solution for BlackBerry users that use Lotus Notes (with or without the eProductivity Template).
Presently, many of my clients use Lotus Notes and a Palm-based device (e.g. Treo 650/700p) for their task management due to its simple interface and categories that make it easy to implement GTD.
While I am not personally a BlackBerry user I understand that managing GTD-style categories with the BB can be a challenge. I'm curious to see if this product delivers on its promise.
If anyone has first hand experience with this product, please post a comment.
Last week, I got to enjoy a fun afternoon in the studio with David Allen, Robert Peake, and Merlin Mann (43 Folders). David invited us to Ojai to record an upcoming GeekTD podcast. David though it would be interesting to bring together a few geeks with varying approaches to productivity. Merlin talked about how he uses his Mac, Robert talked about the power of Mac and Open Source solutions, and I talked about Lotus Notes as a productivity tool for Getting Things Done. The discussion went all over the place and I have no idea what will end up in the finished version. David asked great questions and tried to keep order, which must have felt like herding cats.
David opened the session by stating how cool he thinks Lotus Notes is; he asked why, after 20 years, it seems that many people who use Notes still don't get the power of Lotus Notes. David shared that he frequently goes into organizations that use Notes only to find that people (and their managers) have no idea what their system can do for them (e.g. that they can create their own databases, participate in discussions, use newsletter summary, agents, collaborate, etc.)
Lotus Notes and GTD; productivity combination or curse? If you frequent the Getting Things Done forums you'll find many posts on this topic with differing both points of view.
As I have written before, I believe that the ideal solution for getting things done involves both the technology and the methodology of productivity. It does not matter if you use a napkin, pencil and paper or a powerful tool like Lotus Notes; if you don't have a logical method for organizing your projects and actions any system will become equally dysfunctional. Likewise, if you do have a good methodology in place for getting things done, then you may wish to consider any of a number of tools, including, pencil & paper, a napkin, or even Lotus Notes. I've used all three and I find that each offer key strengths. This blog post however, is about using my current favorite, Lotus Notes, as a tool to support the GTD methodology. (At the end of this post, I've included a link to some helpful information on using NOTES & GTD.)
Lotus Notes and GTD For the past fours years, I've been using a custom template that I developed to support my use of Notes to manage my lists of projects and actions. Gradually, I've added to or improved upon many of the features of the standard Notes forms and views to make it easier for someone familiar with the GTD methodology to jump into using Lotus Notes as their information management tool. (Note that I did not say that the other way around. if you already use Notes and do not understand the GTD methodology, my template will not necessarily make you a better organized person, though it may help. If you are unfamiliar with GTD, I recommend that you consider this book.)
Given the nature and level of my work, I'm somewhat removed from the challenges that many people face trying to implement GTD in vanilla Notes. Migrating from Palm Desktop or Outlook or even a paper-based system like Time Design into Lotus Notes can be a frustrating experience both due to the new way that work is done and the need to create new habits. I spend so much of my day using my eProductivity template for Notes that I sometimes forget that Lotus Notes out of the box is not as intuitive as it could be for managing projects and actions with the GTD methodology. In short, I want to re-experience what it is like to move to and use vanilla Notes to manage projects and actions. I want to revisit what does not work, what's improved since I last did this and what still works well. I believe that the only way I can truly do this is to jump in with both feet.
+ Technology = Productivity.
That was the title of yesterday's blog article. The response, both publicly
and privately, has been very interesting, so I've decided to take this
discussion to a more public format.
Over on the GTD forum, I asked the question, "Do you distinguish between
the technology and methodology of productivity?"
I hope you will participate
in my poll on the GTD
Forum of the David Allen Company web site. You can see the results in real-time.
In the coming weeks, I'll share my own experiences on the tech side of
the productivity equation.
Here are the questions in the poll:
I'm clear about the difference. I use
each where appropriate in a balanced way
I understand the difference, but I tend
to focus more on the technology
I understand the difference, but I tend
to focus more on the methodology
I routinely confuse the two, alternately
focusing on one or the other to an extreme
It’s easy to buy the latest and greatest in technology, but that does not guarantee a boost in productivity. Without a method for its effective use, the potential benefit of a new technology will be limited. Technology might even get in the way.
It's important to distinguish the difference between your method of getting things done and the technology that you use to support your work. These separate elements must work together in order to be productive.
This weekend, David Allen blogged about things that get in the way of productivity. Last night, he asked his seatmate on the plane what got in the way of his productivity:
... I asked him what he thought was the main thing that got in the way of his productivity. He didn't have to think very long before he said, "organizational processes." Too many forms, too many boxes on the forms, too many rules and regulations for filling out the forms.
This comment reminded me of a conversation David and I had over 10 years ago. At the time, I was using a custom Notes-based action management system, patterned after a system I had designed for the Navy. As I had learned about new methodologies of project/action management, I simply "built" what I had learned into my system. This was great, but it added a measure of complexity to my system. I remember I once showed some new features to David. He smiled; I think he even said something like "check back with me in two months from now and let me know if you are still using it."
Two months later, I wasn't using my own system … at least not fully.
You see, my system had gotten in the way of my process. Rather than allowing my system to be just a support tool, It had morphed into a do-all system with lots of features, including the proverbial "kitchen sink." While it allowed me to do many things well, it did not always make it easier to do them.
Many years ago, I scrapped all of my systems and started over. I decided to separate the methodology from the technology. That was a good move. The result was my eProductivity Template for Lotus Notes. Now, my system complements the way that I work. I even incorporated a key concept of the GTD methodology: organizing actions by context. This small change had a tremendous impact for me. I've been using this template ever since, and I’ve provided the template to several clients who are using it to manage their actions and projects with excellent results.
Make no mistake. The system does not do the work – it’s only a tool. I still have to "work" my system ... and some days I do this better than others.
As I consult with clients about how they use technology, I make sure that they clearly understand the difference between the methodology and technology they use to do their work. If I don't believe they have a sound methodology for managing their actions and projects, I give them a copy of David's first book, Getting Things Done. (I always keep a few of these books and tapes on hand for this purpose.) While I can deploy the latest and greatest in technology, I know that without a method for its effective use, its potential benefit will be limited.
When I work with my clients, I usually create an ICA flow diagram of their work. The ICA approach considers three aspects of the workplace: Information, Communications, and Actions, and the diagram allows us to see what they do and how they do it. Once we are clear on the workflow, I show my clients various technologies that they can use to support them in their work.
More than once a client has remarked, “if only I had the system you use [i.e. Lotus Notes, eProductivity Template, a Palm, whatever.] then I would be more productive.” Not true. As I explained earlier, without a sound methodology, the benefits of technology are limited. Begin with the methodology first. If a client does not have a clear grasp of this important concept and a well-defined way of thinking about their work, I refer them back to Getting Things Done.
Methodology + Technology = Productivity
I've continued to refine my systems over the years; I suppose I always will. Now, however, I’m careful when adding new “features.” I don't want technology to interfere with my work. If, after a few weeks, I find that I’m not using a new feature, I remove it.
Remind yourself that while your systems should support you in your work, they should not restrict or otherwise limit it.
Do you make a clear distinction between the methodology and the technology that you use? If so, I'd like to hear about it.
I'm supposed to be studying and writing a research paper, however, I checked my email this evening, and saw a topic that inspired me to blog. One thing led to another, and, well, that's why I'm here at midnight producing my first podcast. I've actually been laying the groundwork for a series of podcasts for eProductivity for sometime, however, tonight, I just decided to go ahead and do it and see what happens, so here goes ...
Using Delegated Tasks for Group Action Management - How to use (or not use) the delegated task feature in Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes. Format: MP3 Size: 4.37MB Duration: 10:54 minutes
I'll be adding proper Podcast enclosures soon which will allow you to automatically download my Podcasts to your iPod or other audio player. Meanwhile, here's the link to my RSS Feed. All of this is still at the early developmental stage. Feedback is most welcome
A member of the GTD Forum recently asked if anyone had implemented GTD using Lotus Notes and a Treo 600. I started to respond with my recommendations, based on my own experience; before I knew it my post had turned into a mini-essay.
Have you ever tried to use Lotus Notes to manage your projects and actions? If so, then you know how frustrating using the To Do form can be. Out of the box, I find it entirely unsuitable for serious action management. Even the Notes 6.x To Do form, which makes some needed and helpful improvements, is still lacking as an action support tool. Lotus Notes is not alone here; the Microsoft Outlook Task form also looks like developers attempted to include many task management features without giving consideration to which ones are essential for action management. The result is that these product's To Do and Task forms are overly complex and counterintuitive. What is needed, is a simpler To Do or Task form -- one that captures the essential information yet presents it in a context that galvanizes the way that we think about what we have to do. For me, it must also be fast; I have found that if I can't create an entry in a few seconds, I won't consistently use it.
Fortunately, Notes forms can be easily modified using the Notes Designer tool. In my opinion, two capabilities that make Lotus Notes the most powerful application for local and distributed collaboration are that 1) almost all aspects of Notes applications can be extended or enhanced, and 2) these changes and the data that they affect can be quickly and easily replicated throughout an organization. (That may sound like a biased comment, but after consulting for more than two decades, including working with Notes for the past 12 years, I still have yet to find a software product that comes close to having the power of Lotus Notes. Until I do, Notes will remain my preferred tool of choice.)
One of the first things that I do in my eProductivity seminars or coaching sessions is to show my clients how to tune the Notes To Do form to turn it into a powerful action support tool. The book, Getting Things Done, by David Allen, describes an approach for action management that is powerful and easy to use; the principles can be easily applied to Lotus Notes by moving a few fields around and changing the way that categories are used. Perhaps the most profound change is to change the text labels for categories and subject to context and action. (See below)
These may appear to be minute changes; do not underestimate the power in their simplicity. For me, these changes have completely transformed the way that I use Lotus Notes for action management.
If you want to get even more from Lotus Notes as a personal information management (PIM) tool, be sure take a look at my eProductivity template, which leverages the principles of the GTD methodology along with other best-practices for productivity -- all within a Lotus Notes context.
If you have thoughts about today's blog entry on the use of Notes as a productivity support tool, I'd like to hear from you!