Take the 14 day GTD Challenge and Get More Done

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

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 one: Register for my GTD with Lotus Notes Challenge.

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).



Why some users only see Notes as email

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Lotus Notes 8.51 Welcome screen

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.


Using eProductivity Essentials with Lotus Notes
In this article, Senior Technical Editor Mick Moignard shows you how you can use the eProductivity Essentials product.
August 2011 | By Mick Moignard

Getting things done with eProductivity Essentials for Notes
This is the first of three articles evaluating eProductivity's Lotus Notes implementation of David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology.
August 2011 | By Mick Moignard

Via: Inside eProductivity Blog

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.)

Guest post by Ryan Heathers of eProductivity

In January 2011, you may recall that we conducted a survey of eProductivity users. Over 400 respondents later, some very interesting data points emerged.

One trend that jumped out was the shift in user satisfaction with IBM Lotus Notes once users installed eProductivity...

User Satisfaction with IBM Lotus Notes Mail & Tasks compared to using eProductivity for Lotus Notes

If you click the graph above, you'll see the survey source data that this graph is based on. As you can see, we're not making this stuff up.  

So what conclusions might we draw from this?

Well, it's no secret that many people dislike the user experience of Lotus Notes. But that might not be telling the whole story here. There are legions of people who dislike (hate?) Microsoft Outlook as well, not to mention the many other enterprise software packages that people love to loathe.

I think one of the keys here is that eProductivity allows users to personalize and customize their IBM Lotus Notes experience. Without needing IT assistance, users can get Lotus Notes to work the way they want to work. In other words, this is another example of the "consumerization of the enterprise" that puts choice back in the end-users hands, engaging and empowering them. Prior to eProductivity, this wasn't possible for end-users of Lotus Notes.

Additionally, the world-class information management tools in eProductivity, powered by GTD, just flat out work. They deliver great results as evidenced by other results from the survey telling us about time savings, empty inboxes, and reduction of stress.

Now that we've launched eProductivity Stand-alone - which requires literally just a couple of clicks to install - and the free Essentials Edition, we expect this trend to continue. It's even more of a no-brainer for users to personalize their Lotus Notes with the right tools.

And, more choice in Lotus Notes users hands + using the right tools = greater satisfaction.

Hey, we might even seen sites like this one boom in popularity. IBM would welcome that, right?

A Notes user from a major university recently contacted me with this request:
Eric, do you have any recommendations on some resources (books, web sites, etc.) that I could use to gain some additional expertise in using Lotus Notes with eProductivity?
As far as learning about eProductivity, we have a learning resource page. As far as current resources for end users that want to learn more about Lotus Notes I have less to share. Because I am now removed from a end-user Notes training, most of the books and resources that I have are now many year/versions old. I know there are good resources out there. Most of what I found in Google were resources for administrators or developers. These wont be helpful for this individual.

So, I'm asking the Lotus community to help by posting comments with links to end-user (not admin or dev) resources for Notes users.

Looking for IBM/Lotus BP in Zimbabwe

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
An SMB customer contacted us - they want to deploy Foundations in order to get Notes/Domino so that they can deploy eProductivity. (This seems to happen a lot, that we attract customers to Notes & Domino who are not already Notes & Domino users)

Anyway, we explained that Foundations hardware is no longer available and recommended that they contact a Lotus BP to assist them in planning a deployment of Lotus Notes/Domino.  Unfortunately, I do not have a referral to offer.

I'm going social and reaching out to the Lotus (oops, IBM) community to see what you may know that can help.

Do you know of an outstanding Lotus/IBM BP in Zimbabwe?



Guest Post by Wendy Mack

Amy and Wendy at age two using their computersRecently 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!  

Continue Reading "How old were you when you first started using Lotus Notes?" »

Moving to WordPress from Domino - Advice?

Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Guest post by Ryan Heathers

For the past few years, our company website and other related web properties have been using Domino-based Project DX as our backend CMS. We're currently in a web redesign process, and as part of this project I'm evaluating the business case to switch away from Domino to a newer CMS at the same time.

I've looked at Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, and ExpressionEngine as possible alternatives. After deliberation, I've identified WordPress as being a potentially good fit for our needs, although sticking with Domino remains a viable option. Whatever CMS we choose needs to be able to handle a full website in addition to a blog.

As part of this process, I'd appreciate hearing about other folks' WordPress experiences, especially in the following areas:
  • If you migrated content from Domino to Wordpress, how did you do it? What were the costs? Any gotchas?
  • Does WordPress meet your needs for robust handling of static pages?
  • Does WordPress have a reasonable backup and recovery system in lieu of Domino's replication ability?
  • Any ongoing costs related to WordPress maintenance or upgrades?
  • What are the best benefits that Wordpress has provided you?
Looking forward to hearing about your experiences!

Several weeks ago, my team and I set out on a mission to better understand how satisfied people are with Lotus Notes as a tool for productive work. So we did what many companies do - we set up a survey. We put together a long list of questions designed to help us better understand who our customers are, how and why they buy and what value they get from using our product. We signed up for a SurveyMonkey account and sent out invites.

A survey like that is generally not remarkable, but I think the answers to two of the questions are...

Within the first few hours of the survey launch, responses to two of the questions in the survey immediately caught my attention. The majority of survey respondents described themselves as not satisfied with Lotus Notes or neutral on the subject. Interesting...

User Satisfaction with Lotus Notes Mail & Tasks (Click for source data)

Take a look at the chart on the left. These aren't just grumpy end-users. These are senior and C-Level executives, department managers, product managers, sales executives, and IT managers from across ALL areas of their organizations. These are the pacesetters that select or influence the tools that they and their organizations will use to get things done. (When I filtered the results to examine  responses from IBMers only, the numbers were only slightly different.)

"OK", I thought, "it's early in the survey process; let's see what happens when we have a larger sample of responses."

Continue Reading "User Satisfaction with Lotus Notes Mail & Tasks" »

I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I talk with customers to learn what they think about our product and why. I've learned a lot and I have learned a lot about what people think about Lotus and why. In general, people seem to be surprisingly passionate - one way or the other.

So, what if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

We know that many if not most of our customers have become huge fans of Notes (and to some extent, Lotus). So, we know it's possible.

As we look ahead to Lotusphere 2011 and talk with other attendees/non-attendees as well as business partners and exhibitors, I hear a variety of emotions about Lotus. Like many, I'm hopeful for a shift in the way that Lotus does business, engages with its customers, and presents itself in the market.

I find it helpful to think about successful outcomes in terms of "Wild Success" and to ask myself what that would look like. This prompted me to consider the question I put in the title of this blog post: What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

I'd like to have a discussion, so let me begin by asking a few questions about different facets of the above...

What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?
a) What would that look like?

b) What would it take to get there?

c) What would need to happen at Lotusphere 2011 to facilitate that?

I look forward to the discussion!

I'm a big fan of keyboard shortcuts and I routinely use CTRL+M to create a new email message in Lotus Notes. Recently, however, this stopped working. A few quick Google searches led me to several posts on how Microsoft BING disables or interferes with CTRL+M. The strange thing is I do not recall installing BING or allowing Microsoft to do the same - this is a new ThinkPad and I use Firefox.

I have no idea if this is a conspiracy on the part of Microsoft but it sure is a productivity killer for me. In any case, here's what I've learned about how to get CTRL+M working with Lotus Notes:

First: This is the post that tipped me off that Bing Toolbar might be what's clobbering Notes:

Bing Ctrl+M doesn't work after installing new Bing toolbar

Next, I found this technote on how to uninstall Bing toolbar

Uninstall Bing Bar or Microsoft Silverlight

From there I followed these instructions:

Continue Reading "Microsoft disables CTRL+M in Lotus Notes; here's how to get it back." »

I'm only into my first day at the KMWORLD conference in Washington DC and I've already met several folks that told me (unsolicited) that they hate Lotus Notes with a passion. They are everywhere. If you've read this blog for any length of time you know I have a field day with this. It is frustrating -- that IBM does not appear to do much to change user perception while Microsoft markets like crazy to convince organizations that SharePoint will solve all of their problems. It's also exhilarating - that I can help show people how their investment in Lotus Software is a good one and that in fact, Lotus Notes is quite capable. The problems are not Notes as much as they are how Notes is frequently deployed, managed, or supported -- or not.

SharePoint isn't the solution either.  (If this blog were about using SharePoint, I could have lead with the title "Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone hates SharePoint?") Two years ago, at KMWORLD, it seemed that SharePoint could do no wrong; in fact, the answer to every ill, it seemed, was SharePoint. Now that organizations have had some time to work with SharePoint, we see the same issues and hear many of the same complaints about SharePoint that we have heard about Notes. And, of course, we have the cloud vendors telling us that they can fix the problems of SharePoint and Notes. Yeah, right.

Continue Reading "Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone hates Notes?" »

20100908-getting-things-done-the-podcast-cover-artwork-230x230.jpgHow 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.

Hey Gmail, Lotus Notes did it first

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
Guest post by Ryan Heathers. You can follow Ryan on Twitter.

I’ve been reading the many articles on the new Gmail Priority Inbox with great interest. People are praising this “innovative” Gmail feature all over the place. And it is pretty cool. But as Alan Lepofsky pointed out, Lotus Notes has had similar inbox categorization features for over a decade. But apparently, few people know that. Or maybe, few people care…

The Lotus Notes categorized inbox provides many of the features that everyone is raving about in Gmail’s release. In Notes, your inbox can sort emails according to high priority marks, calendar invites, and the unwashed masses of regular emails. It’s helpful. If you’re a person who receives critical calendar invites interspersed with stacks of regular emails, it can be a life-saving feature.  

Gmail Priority Inbox, courtesy of TechCrunch
Source: TechCrunch

Lotus Notes categorized inbox

The one feature that the Gmail Priority Inbox provides that’s unique is the learning algorithm that trains itself to know what emails are most important to you. But I can see the value of this feature swinging all over the place. The jury is still out on whether Gmail can accurately predict what's important to me.

Continue Reading "Hey Gmail, Lotus Notes did it first" »

That's strange. I don't even have one million databases on my laptop!

20100724 - UX Issues Replication Stats.jpg

If I replicate a second time, it all works nicely, as it should.

No idea why this happens; I've lived with this for years on versions 8.x and 8.51x, (and even 8.52 CD5 from which I made this screen shot).

It's certainly not a show stopper. It could even be my laptop for all I know. For now, it remains an unsolved mystery.

Now that I have your attention, I have two other Notes UX issues that I cannot explain...

Continue Reading "A new record: 20,626,644 Notes Databases Replicated" »

If you use Gmail for personal email, this article form the IBM Notes learning Wiki may be of interest:

Configuring the Lotus Notes Client with Gmail

I haven't tried this yet, but it looks promising. If you decide to implement this, drop me a line and let me know how it worked out.

Today we sold....

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
Continuing on the theme started by Vaughan and picked up by Lotus Evangelist...

today, as we do most every day, we sold customers on the extraordinary value that comes from using Lotus Notes for collaboration and personal and team productivity (with eProductivity of course).

It doesn't take much;  you just have to help the customer (whether CEO, CIO, IT, Manager or end-user) see how this decision will benefit them personally.

Most people we speak with really want to stop living interrupt-driven lives in the inbox; they want to stop being addicted to stress, and they dream of going home with an empty inbox (paper & digital) at the end of each day.

We show them how; and, we show them how to reclaim 30-60 minutes each day. It's fun.

OK, Who's next?

Is it Actionable or is it Reference?

Friday, June 25th, 2010

A key question to ask yourself when processing your stuff (emails, papers, etc) is "is this Actionable or is this Reference?" By separating your stuff into "Actionable" and "Reference" piles, you can keep your productivity system neat and tidy.

Some quick definitions:

  • Actionable: anything that requires your attention
  • Reference: Items that do not require your action, but you want to keep on hand

It's not enough to ask this important question alone. A key to making this separation work is having a place to park your reference material. For that purpose, the Lotus Notes Notebook (formerly called the Lotus Notes Personal Journal) is a great tool. And, it's built in to Lotus Notes.

Here's a screenshot of one of my Notebooks:

Eric's Lotus Notes Notebook

You can see that my Notebook has all sorts of valuable stuff in it. But because it's stored away from my email inbox and my To Do lists, I only have to think about my Reference items when I choose to - they're not hitting me in the face while I'm trying to work on projects.

Check out the Lotus Notes Notebook. If you want to take your reference filing to the next level, go get yourself a download a free eProductivity Reference template that you can use to upgrade your Notes Notebook.

Eleven months ago, I shared my thoughts on how to make Notes personal. I explained that we've found that once a tool becomes personal the objections/complains go away and people want more of Lotus Software.

I've been following with interest the many discussions in Planet Lotus this past two weeks and more than once someone mentioned that "we need an app store for Lotus Notes applications." This weekend , I got caught up with the excellent and informative This Week In Lotus podcasts and the topic was brought up again. On the podcast, opinions were shared as to why or why not an app store or catalog would or would not work. At point, Darren Duke even said something to the effect of, "you guys should talk to Eric Mack because his company's already done it with eProductivity."

There are three current solutions available that I am aware of today: OpenNTF , the Lotus Software Catalog, and the Notes App Store. OpenNTF is great, but it's geared toward developers. Lotus launched the Lotus Software Catalog at LS10 and it's beautiful, but I honestly have no idea if it is being promoted in any way that a potential customer could find it. The Notes App Store is really a catalog -- you can't buy anything yet -- but it's designed to make it easy for the end user to be able to browse through available Notes applications. This is probably the closest thing I've seen to the original printed Lotus Solutions Catalog from the early 1990's.

As far as how we sell our product, I'm not sure I would call what we have done an "app store." We have only one item available for purchase, so I can't even call it a catalog. Still, it's the only completely turn-key Notes solution I am aware of that allows someone (an administrator, executive, or end-user) to visit the site, download a stand-alone demo of the application, try it out five minutes later, download the template, apply it, evaluate it, purchase an activation key, and activate the software -- all with minimal user intervention. It wasn't easy to build, but I have some of the brightest people on my team and what we have created works and works well every day. (As I write this, people are downloading, evaluating and purchasing our software on their own.)

But this post is not about my company's product - it's about the process we use to deliver it. The people that use our product are administrators, executives, and end users -- all of them are busy people that want to save time. We've worked to lower the barrier to deployment by improving the method of delivery for our Notes app. We made it fast and easy to evaluate, apply, and purchase.

I know that it is possible to create something similar to the one stop shopping experience that end-users have come to expect with their phones. It's not quite built into Notes (as I hope someday it will be) but it works and people use it every day.

Anyway, if there's interest, I would be happy to provide an overview of how this was done and some of the lessons we've learned along the way.

Peter Presnell: "Why I love Lotus Notes"

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
I've had it on my mind for some time to blog about this topic, but Peter beat me to it with an excellent post today.

While my consulting work puts me in touch with end users, pacesetters, and decision makers, I rarely consider Notes from the development perspective. The only developers I interact with are those on my team.  Written from a developer perspective, "Why I love Lotus Notes" is Peter's effort to share the features of Lotus Notes that he loves and the value he gets from the community. It's an excellent post and I hope it will inspire others to blog about what they love about Notes.

There are many things I love about Notes. Near the top of my list would have to be: ease of use and customization, replication, off-line access, and security. I'll try to blog about these from perspective soon.

Meanwhile, I see great value in multiple perspectives and I'm glad Peter shared his. I'm collecting thoughts from my own perspective to share. I hope you will consider sharing yours. Perhaps we can start a meme.

What do you love about Notes?

Note to my readers: Please help me keep the comment thread on-topic, in this case, on the productive use of Lotus Notes. If you want to post a comment about something you like, you are welcome to do so. If you want to rant, I invite you to articulate your feelings and opinions on your own blog. Please do not use this comment thread for that purpose. Inappropriate comments will be removed.  I'm interested in reading about the value people are getting from Notes and how they are using Notes to improve their personal and work group productivity.

"You could’ve heard a pin drop!"

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
An executive recently shared with me that David Allen had come to speak to their multi-national organization to share his Getting Things Done® (GTD®) approach to stress-free productivity.

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.

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:

This afternoon, I worked with a client and I was showing him the new features of Notes 8.5.1 after we upgraded him from 7.0.3. The first thing he. like all of my clients asked for is to restore their workspace and bookmark bar. (Why these are now disabled by default continues to baffle me - they are such productive features of Notes!) OK, that was easy enough. Workspace and bookmark bar restored.
20100610 - Erics Notes Workspace.jpg
I then stepped back and watched as my client began to work with Notes and set up his environment as we teach for maximum productivity with Notes. Then, he did something unusual - at least he tried to... he dragged an icon from his bookmark bar to the Notes workspace. It didn't work of course, but when I asked what he was doing he said that if we could drag book marks from the workspace tabs to the bookmark bar then why shouldn't he be able to drag things from the bookmark bar back to the workspace. This then led into a discussion around usability. The conclusion of the conversation and similar observations I have made before left me thinking about two workspace features I'd like to see:

Ability to drag a bookmark from the bookmark bar to the Notes workspace. From an end-user point of view there's no difference between a bookmark and a db icon on the workspace - both represent an a target. This way, I can have icons that represent databases (Applications) and icons that represent anything else I want - documents (e.g. doclinks) or URLS (web sites) etc. After all, if it is MY workspace, let me put anything on it anywhere I want it. I can do that in Windows/Mac/Linux - why not in Notes?

Ability to clone icons on the Notes workspace so I can drag them to other workspace tabs. Let me explain. I currently have icons for 400 Notes databases across 15 workspace tabs. Each are organized by context - as any good GTD Boy would do. The problem is that some of these icons have meaning in multiple contexts. If I could clone these icons (effectively making shortcuts to them) I could have EVERYTHING I want in the context I want to see it. If you are a GTDer you will immediately understand the cognitive and productive benefit of this capability.

What do you think?
 (Don't limit yourself to the way Notes has always worked before.) What would like to see you do to make the Notes workspace even more productive? As an add-on questions, how are you using the Notes workspace to better organize how you think about your work?

I have a question for my friends using their Ipads with Lotus Traveler to access Lotus Notes information:
Is there any risk with having multiple devices associated with a single Notes Mailbox using Traveler?
I have a client that is about to deploy both devices and their goal is to have ubiquitious access to Notes from either device. Apart from the normal replication conflict issues that might ensue, are there any other known issues? Have any of you done this yet? How is it working for you?

It's no secret that my colleagues and I love using Lotus Notes and we think it's one of the most powerful platforms for information and knowledge management, collaboration, and personal productivity. Of course, not everyone shares our view, including IBM's Technology Strategy consultant, Jon Mulholland, who describes himself as a "Passionate mobile geek and lover of beautiful web design" on his Twitter profile. I found this today in my daily search of all things Lotus Notes...

via Twitter

If Jon's remarks about Lotus Notes are based on the UI, then compared to some stunning web sites and applications I have seen, I could see where he might reach that conclusion. Notes isn't the most beautiful UI, but it's getting better and I don't use Notes for the UI anyway. I use Lotus Notes to create value - value for myself, my team, and my company.

While I'm always envious of the latest eye candy that I see from Apple, I'm more interested in what the application will DO for me on an ongoing basis. I love shiny things and cool user interfaces and shiny baubles but not as much as I like tools that work really well. For me, Notes is about being productive and getting things done.

While I thoroughly enjoy the latest UI features of Notes 8.5.1 that the Lotus Notes UX team has provided, truth be told I could easily go back several versions of Lotus Notes and still be almost as productive. (In fact, when I demo eProductivity to enterprise clients I will often do just that - I will downgrade my Notes from 8.5x to 6.5x and show that I can still be productive and stay on top of my game.) The Lotus Notes UX team has done an awesome job at enhancing the visual and usability elements of the Notes user experience, but it's the ability of Notes to facilitate how we communicate and collaborate that really shines for me.

Still, we have this differing viewpoint from Jon, which makes me wonder how Jon's experience differs from mine. Is he using a really ancient version e.g. Notes 4, 5, or 6? Did he get any training in how to maximize his use of Notes? Perhaps he has access to some really cool technology that makes Notes pale in comparison? As an IBMer, I would expect that he has access to some of the finest technology and people that can help him. If not, I'd be willing to do my part and help. I'd really like to help him convince himself that Lotus Notes doesn't really suck.

Productivity expert, David Allen had this to say in an comment thread on Ed Brill's blog:
Ed, as Eric wrote in his blog post and as I have said for years, most folks simply don't understand the power of what Notes can do for them. I'm constantly amazed when I'm in companies that use Notes that the average person has no idea of the power of what they have, which is probably why they complain or whine and pine for something bigger and better. I think there's a large segment of the market that doesn't even know Notes still exists (or is thriving).

I won't speculate further on the reasons for Jon's comment today. It's clear that he's not happy about having to use Notes at work. I wish I could change that - I love giving people a new outlook on Notes.

In any case, Jon has a blog and he appears to focuses on design so perhaps he will write a post to share his Notes experience with us so we can all learn more. I hope so.

Related Posts:

IBM Lotus Notes Sucks People into Two Camps
Does the world really hate Lotus Notes?
I Hate(d) Lotus Notes
Ed Brill: Eric Mack has made a Notes convert through GTD and ...
Listen to how I help people convince themselves that Notes doesn’t suck
Lotus Notes Sucks? Not so much (A happy ending)
"I’m a Mac and a PC and I love Lotus Notes"

Looks like Lotus Notes finally has an app store.


Go to www.notesappstore.com to take a look. A Notes app store is an intriguing development and I'm excited to see where it leads.

Hat tip to Frank Paolino at Mayflower Software for putting this together.

Guest post by Ryan Heathers

As a result of last month's "Getting Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes" public and IBM Employee Only webinars with David Allen, thousands of Notes users around the world are now exploring and choosing alternatives to the standard Lotus Notes Mail/Calendar/tasks experience to increase their personal productivity. But that's not what this post is about - at least not directly. I want to talk about a little known feature hidden inside the standard Lotus Notes Mail template that will allow you to categorize the messages in your inbox.

This 'categorized' functionality has been provided by IBM in all Mail template releases since R7 and apparently some organizations, like IBM, have modified their standard mail template to provide for categorization of messages in the inbox as the default standard.

How the 'categorized' inbox works in Lotus Notes:

In the standard Lotus Notes Mail inbox, emails are presented in chronological order with the oldest message at the top and the newest at the bottom. No preference is give to messages flagged 'High priority' or calendar invites and meeting notices:

This is my standard inbox as it appears in Lotus Notes 8.51

In the 'Categorized'Notes Mail Inbox, emails are presented in a categorized fashion so that:
  • Calendar Invites/Updates will appear at the top of the inbox
  • Next, all high priority emails will be displayed
  • Finally, all normal priority emails will be displayed
Here's how the above mail box looks with the 'categorized' inbox:

This is what my inbox looks like in Notes 8.5.1 with the 'categorized' inbox enabled

Before I share my thoughts on the pros and cons of the categorized inbox, let me provide a quick overview of how this is set up.

How to enable the 'categorized' inbox

The process to enabled categorized views in your inbox is straightforward and can be accomplished in less than 5 minutes, but it does require access to the Lotus Notes Designer client. As such, it is best left to your Notes administrator or developer to do. (I'm only going to describe the process very generically here because I have many thousands of readers and I do not want to encourage people to modify their mail template unless they do not know what they are doing.) So, if you are not an administrator or developer, please skip to the next section to read my thoughts. For "informational" purposes only, here's how to enable the categorized inbox in a standard Lotus Notes 7, 8 or 8.5 mail file:

When you open the mail file in the designer client, you will see a folder, "($Inbox-Categorized1) signed by "Lotus Notes Template Development."

IBM Provides a 'categorized' inbox folder - you must use the Notes Designer client to see it

Copying the categorized column from this folder into the same position in the ($Inbox) folder and saving it will cause the Inbox folder to categorize messages the next time the folder is used

NOTE: I must include two warnings with this tip: First, do not ever, ever, ever, rename the $Inbox folder. If you do, bad things will happen. Second, know that all folders inherit their design from the $Inbox folder, which means that if you commit to use a categorized inbox ALL of your folders (including folders in archives) will also inherit this design. For this reason, I present this post for your information only. (If you are a current
eProductivity customer and want to try this, we've posted version in the beta forum so you can try it out for yourself.)

UPDATE 5/7/2010
: Please see the comment from Brian O'Donovan below. He describes an easier and safer method that does not require the Designer client.

My thoughts on the categorized inbox so far...

On the surface, this categorized view would appear to be a boon to anyone that gets lots of emails and wants to be sure that they won't miss an urgent email. At least that was my initial reaction. I like that all calendar items appear at the top of the inbox -- it makes it easier to process all of my calendar related invites, notices, and changes at once. At first glance, having the high priority emails at the top of the inbox means that I won't miss a high priority item -- as long as I remember to check that part of the view.

But is this really the most productive way to go, or does it encourage less productive email habits? That's what I wanted to know, so I made the change to my inbox and worked with it for a while.

What I like about the categorized inbox

As I stated earlier, I like having all of the calendar information in once place. That makes it easy for me to handle all calendar information at once. What I lose, however, is the context as I can longer see the email messages that came in before and after the calendar request or update. I haven't reached a conclusion about whether that is a big deal or not. In the same way, I like that I can see and get to all urgent (flagged as High importance, but let's call it how people use it) email in one place. Here again, context is lost because these messages are now at the top instead of in the message flow.

What concerns me about the categorized inbox

For me, the biggest concern about a categorized inbox + lots of emails is that I'd FORGET to check the top of the stack. David Allen and I teach that the best practice around email is to process it once into a trusted system and then work from an empty inbox. We teach that your inbox should only be a temporary collection point for incoming stuff. If you work this way and your process your inbox to zero at least once every 24 hours, then a categorized inbox might be helpful and may even be more productive. If you are buried in email and have a considerable backlog, then my concern is that a categorized inbox can become a hindrance to your overall productivity by encouraging you to deal with what's latest and loudest -- your urgent items -- and not the rest of the messages. Also, if you have more than one screen full of email, you will have to scroll to the top to see these urgent emails. As a result, you risk losing focus on the rest of your inbox because you are either at the top or the bottom of the stack. For me, in the sort while that I have been evaluating the categorized inbox I found myself subject to the tyranny of the urgent. And, there was no incentive for be to process everything - I could simply wait until things were urgent enough to flag them as such. I try to process my email when it shows up instead of when it blows up.

What do YOU think?

Do you think the 'categorized' inbox would be a help or a hindrance? Do you currently use the categorized inbox? If so, what do you like or dislike about it ? If you don't, what are your thoughts? I'd like to know.

Lotus Notes has had a hard earned and well deserved black eye for many years regarding it's user interface and lack of eye candy. While it never bothered me too much, many people grew to resent using an application that looked like it hadn't changed visually since the last century.

I'm testing the beta version of Notes 8.5.2 and now that the ban on blogging has been lifted, I want to share one of the little things that Mary Beth Raven and her team have done that I think will make a BIG improvement in the perception of Notes in the marketplace. Support for 32-bit color icons has just been added to Notes 8.5.2!  

Consider these two Notes applications and their icons:


The database icon on the left is the standard 16-bit color icon we all grew to know and love in the last century in the Windows for Workgroups 3.1 era. The database icon on the right is a PNG file that I selected as my DB Icon using the new 8.5.2 Designer client.

Continue Reading "With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won't look like Win95 anymore" »

After yesterday's discovery that I have been inadvertantly sending sending private emails to unintended recipients, I deleted all of my recent contacts in my personal address book. I've also been watching every email I send to see that the addresses are correct. Sure enough, the problem persists. In this example, I send email to RH which is the shortname for my colleague, "Ryan Heathers". RH is defined in the company address book.  I know this works -- I have used it for years.

However, as you will see below, Notes sees the "RH" and arbitrarily decides that RH maps better to "Rhonda Small" who is NOT in my contact list but who is someone I once exchanged email with.

20100416 - eMail Type-Ahead Screen Shot 4.jpg

So, Rhonda gets the email intended for Ryan, Ryan does not get the email at all, and I'm left wondering whether I can trust my email system.  Not pretty.

Thankfully, less than an hour after my post, am anonymous IBMer sent me a link to this document which provides more information on how the "recent contacts" feature works. It's a worthwhile read, although no end user should have to. What I learned from it and want to share with you is that it is insufficient to simply delete the recent -contacts as they will return and your problems may reappear in new ways as they did  for me.  IBM's tech note explains how to clear the recent contacts:

Continue Reading "Follow-up: How to stop sending Notes email to unintended recipients by disabling the recent contacts feature in Notes 8/8.5x" »

I learned this the hard way today when I received a shocking email.

I'm sharing a lesson I learned today in the hope that it might make you more productive and that I might learn something from the comments to this post. From a security/legal perspective, my hope is that this will save future embarrassment/liability as well.

It seems that I had unknowingly sent a private communication to an unintended public email address - in this case, an old mailing list for a KM community. Oops. This was not the first time it has happened to me so I decided to investigate.

I love the shortname feature in Notes because for as long as I can remember I simply type the initials of the person in my company address book and Notes routes the mail to the right person. I've worked this way in Notes for at least 15 years. Example: My wife's name is Kathy and her shortname is "KM". I type "KM" into the address field and the email gets to my wife. (We have similar shortnames for everyone on staff.) It sure beats looking up a name in a directory.

Since upgrading to Notes 8.5x I have noticed that more than once I have sent email to someone only to find that it went to someone else. Here's what I found.

Continue Reading "Caution! Notes 8/8.5x makes it easier than ever to send email to someone you didn't intend to..." »

GTD and Lotus Notes = Resounding Success

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Guest post by Ryan Heathers

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...)


Hat tip to @sachac, @elsua_b, and @jmsidhu

David and Eric were on fire and shared many things they've learned about being more productive with Lotus Notes.

GTDWebinar_DAQuote.pngDavid 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

DavidAllenEricMackProfilePicturesCombined.jpg 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
  • Q&A;

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.

Several weeks ago, I blogged about how to how to improve your personal productivity by sharpening the saw. I took a look at many things that affect the performance of Lotus Notes and several easy things you can do to get a big speed boost. One of those was the concept of making a local replica of your frequently used databases (applications). Not only does this provide you with rapid access to local data, it also allows you to work off-line in any context.

Today, Darren Duke blogged about this and he provides the steps anyone can use to set up a local replica of a database.

[Thanks to a tip from Ed Brill, the title of this post should probably read: "Lotus Notes 8.5 Just Gave Me a New Outlook on .ICS Calendar Files." That would certainly be a true statement.]

Earlier today, I blogged that we had set up a webinar about GTD and Lotus Notes using GoToMeeting. I blogged about how I was embarassed when I then received many follow-up emails from IBMers asking why the Webinar confirmation included a link to add the event to the Outlook calendar but no link to add the event to the Lotus Notes Calendar. I explained that we as a GoToWebinar customer have no control over the event confirmation email that they send to people that sign up. (We have contacted GoToWebinars to request a change -- we'll see what happens).  In any case, I'm a little embarassed to admit that I did not actually click on the "Add to your Outlook Calendar" link on the confirmation. I've grown so accustomed to being frustrated that Outlook links did not work in Notes that I simply assumed it wouldn't work.

I was wrong.


After a comment from Ed Brill, asking if I had clicked on the link I realized I was about to be in for a pleasant surprise. Indeed I was very pleasantly surprised. In fact, I'm thrilled and I want everyone to know about this way cool productivity feature that Mary Beth Raven and her team added to Notes 8.5x.

Continue Reading "It's easy to open .ICS iCalendar Files in Lotus Notes 8.5x (Thanks, Ed)" »

Mark Hughes is the Lotus Notes developer behind the ITANA app that makes it possible to access Lotus Notes tasks, Journal entries, and more from an iPhone or Android device.

The iPhone is notorious in productivity circles for not having a native task application. This makes syncing the iPhone to desktop task managment software like Lotus Notes to be a challenge at best. Mark's ITANA application could be a solution to this gapping need in being productive with the iPhone. Plus, his solution works on Android.

Mark recently contacted me about getting eProductivity to work with his solution and there has been progress on that front. He wrote a blog post yesterday that shows how he's modified ITANA to alow you to manage eProductivity Projects & Actions on an iPhone or Android. He's got a few screenshots there that show what he's been working on, including this one:

Using eProductivity on an iPhone with ITANA

Head on over to Mark's blog to see more screenshots and learn more about ITANA .

This week, Ryan and I are setting up a webinar for people that use Lotus Notes (this webinar is of no interest to people that do not use Notes, unless they want to see what they are missing. But more on that in an upcoming post).

Our company uses GoToWebinar for our web conferences and events and they do an excellent job hosting and managing large events for us. Anyway, sign ups are going well (and fast) but I've already received several questions like this:
...why is there no button to add this to my LotusNotes Calendar, but there was one for Outlook?


Good question.

Continue Reading "This is embarrassing: Add to your Outlook Calendar" »

xPages Wiki on OpenNTF... Wow!

Friday, March 12th, 2010

I have a topic that I want to put out to the Notes community to discuss. I could simply blog about it and ask people to comment. The challenge is I end up with a long list of comments without threads. I could direct people to a forum where discussions would be threaded but at the end I would have to summarize all of the conversations into one document - too much work.

The Web 2.0 thing to do would be to post the document to the web and invite people to modify the document itself. I thought a Wiki might work well for this purpose and so I headed over to the OpenNTF site to download the new xPages Wiki, managed by Steve Castledine and Niklas Heidloff .

In less than 5 minutes I had downloaded the Wiki, read through the quick start guide and set up my first xPages Wiki.


The steps I used were:

  1. Download template to my Notes DATA Directory
  2. Sign template with an ID authorized to run agents on the Domino server
  3. Create a new Wiki.nsf file on the Domino Server and grant ACL rights
  4. Access the new Wiki from the web and start posting

That's it. Less than 5 minutes. Wow!

Some things I like about the new xPages Wiki so far:

  1. Easy to set up
  2. I can access content from a web browser or from my Notes client

Some questions/concerns I have:

  1. Word wrapping appears to change places from time to time. Some times a line will wrap in the middle; other times near the end.
  2. A few times, I created pages that when I clicked on the link I ended up at a Notes 4 era list page. Clicking through worked. (Possible configuration issue, or a bug?)
  3. I do a lot of off-line work. I wonder what will happen if I edit pages and replicate back to the Domino server when others have made changes. I may want to limit myself to off-line reading and reference.

Things I'd like to see:

  1. E-Mail notification of updates with a Notes doclink (in addition to RSS)
  2. Ability to customize the site design

All in all, for a 20-minute investment, including a test Wiki page and this blog post, I'm impressed!

If you want to check it out, here's a link to the new Wiki I set up for readers of this blog: http://www.NotesOnProductivity.com/Wiki

Last week I received a call from the folks at Phase2 - a recent Lotus Business Partner with big plans. Apparently, they are a company that hosts Notes and Domino apps on a SaaS Model. They contacted me because they had a customer (apparently an Exchange shop) that wanted to talk about using hosted Lotus Notes with our productivity software. That got my attention. I'm always delighted when I can give folks a new outlook on their productivity tools and I love it when folks decide to exchange what they are currently using for Lotus Notes/Domino.  I'm all for anything that can be done to make this process easier. I had hoped that LotusLive iNotes or LotusLive Notes might be that solution but it's not ready for SMBs yet and, from what I understand, they don't yet allow the use of custom mail templates, like eProductivity which is a deal killer for our clients that want to be more productive with Notes. I've always wanted to see someone offer Notes in a SaaS model without the heavy toll of a large startup fee or a high minimum number of users. It looks like Phase2 might fit that bill.

There's another reason why I'm interested in learning how well Notes as SaaS works: As a result of my public speaking on productivity and knowledge management, I'm frequently in a position to show how I use Lotus Notes to get things done, this invariably leads to a number of discussions with people that have never used Notes/Domino before and who want to know how to get started. Unfortunately, I can't help these people and I hesitate to encourage them because I don't want to inundate our support desk with calls from first-time Notes users that can't find the download link from the IBM site or who have questions about installation. The best I've been able to do so far is to point them to this page I wrote for first-time Notes users and then offer to refer them to any of a number of respected Lotus Business Partners that I know. For Domino hosting, I often refer people to Prominic. Clients that have used them tell me they have been pleased with the result.,

Sometimes, however, a company doesn't want to deal with the  licensing issues involved in managing their own or even a hosted Notes/Domino solution. Even with the reduced complexity of licensing (thank you Lotus!), it can take a lot of time and money to stand up a Lotus software suite with Notes, Domino, Quickr, Connections and Sametime. if someone can get this right as a turn-key operation, I think it would lower the cost (and hesitation) of doing pilots with the Lotus software suite. This is where it looks like Phase2 may comes in with their Lotus as SaaS model -- at least if I understand their web site right. They will set up the environment and provide the licensing for one monthly fee. (See update below)

This afternoon, I spoke with the folks at Phase2.com again. Apparently, one of their clients asked if it was possible to connect our eProductivity suite with their hosted Notes account. Absolutely - it's just a mail template that can be installed by end-user or administrator. I told them I was interested to see how the Phase2 customer experience worked. I wanted to know just how easy it is for a new user to request, provision, and deploy hosted Lotus Notes in order to experience the power of Notes. Well, it looks like I will soon have my answer. the folks at Phase2 are going to set me up with a few test accounts so that I can test the process. I’ll plan to write a follow-up post to report on how things went after I've had a few weeks experience with their offering.

I'm glad to see there’s someone hosting Lotus products in the cloud using a SaaS model for small numbers of users and I look forward to testing their solution.

Meanwhile, you can learn more at Phase2.com.

Update 3/8/2010: According to Phase2, they have negotiated a special license agreement with IBM which allows them to do this. I will try to share more details as I learn them.

It's often been my experience that when users complain about Lotus Notes, they are unaware that there are simple things that can be done to achieve a big boost in productivity. For example, I sometimes find that users do not have Lotus Notes set up to take advantage of Lotus Note's ability to keep a local replica - something that can lead to a dramatic performance improvement, especially when then the objective is to make the tool as productive as possible.

For the past 17 years, I've been serving organizations and individuals that use Lotus Notes to get things done. My focus is on high performance knowledge work and I teach the importance of having the right tools for the job and knowing how to use them to be productive. Unfortunately, many people don't give a thought to their systems and what makes them work well.
Instead of using tools that are optimized for the job, users often struggle and are less productive than they could be. That's like using a dull saw to cut a tree down -- you can do it, but it's going to take a lot more work to get the job done.
As I work with and coach clients around the world that use Lotus Notes, I'm often asked why Notes and their systems in general seem to get slower and slower. While there are many parts to the answer, the good news is that there is much you can do to improve the user experience in terms of performance.

First, let me provide some context: for purposes of this discussion I'll be referring to the Lotus Notes Mail file; however, the concepts I describe can be applied equally to any Lotus Notes database or application.

Before we can talk about the things that can be done to speed up Lotus Notes, we must first understand what aspects of your system and Notes affect performance. I have broken these down into three areas: System, Lotus Notes, and User Data. Elements in each of these areas will affect end-user performance. Some are things you can change easily; some are not. Let's take a look:

Continue Reading "Why is my Lotus Notes so slow? (how to improve your personal productivity by sharpening the saw)" »

IBM introduces new Lotus Solutions Catalog

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

As Ed Brill announced this morning, Lotus has released a new Lotus Solutions Catalog.

eProductivity is a featured app in the catalog, and I was really pleased to see eProductivity up on the big screen during a session called, "BDD101: Lotus Messaging and Collaborating drives Better Business Outcomes", presented by Kevin Cavanaugh and Mike Masterson.

Here are some pictures I took from the session (click for larger view):

Kevin Cavanaugh, presenting at Business Development Day Mike Masterson, presenting at Business Development Day

the new Lotus Solutions Catalog eProductivity is featured in the new Solutions Catalog

Be sure to visit the catalog at http://catalog.lotus.com.

Here is a screenshot of the eProductivity catalog page (click to go to the page):


Hat tip to Mike and his team for doing a great job with the catalog.

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.

Elegant GTD- IBM’s new cloud opportunity?

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

David Allen thinks that IBM has a cloud computing opportunity: elegant, cloud-based GTD.

Footage taken from an interview with David on January 10, 2010. For more clips from the interview, go here.

Debunking 5 Lotus Notes Myths

Saturday, January 16th, 2010
early rendition of a flat earth

I have been encouraging Michael Sampson to focus his research and writing on the Lotus software portfolio for some time, and earlier this week, Michael published a new report: Lotus Roadmap: Enhancing Business Collaboration with Lotus Software. In the report, Michael highlights and debunks 5 myths about Lotus Notes in particular, and then outlines a "business" roadmap for making the most of Lotus software.

Michael writes:

Lotus Notes has been around for a long time. Since its release in 1989 it has always been viewed as a “different” piece of technology, loved by some people and reviled by others. It takes a different approach to information management and collaboration tasks, it looks different from the standard Microsoft offering which many people view as being “authoritatively correct”, and it offers capability for being used so broadly across an organization that it can be put to use on many tasks, including tasks that it is not well-suited for.

So what do we do with Lotus Notes, and by implication, the other products from Lotus Software? Is there still life left in Lotus? Is it time to move to “greener pastures”? Are the new offerings from other vendors better suited to the information management and collaboration tasks that organizations are using Lotus Notes for? These are the questions addressed in this report.

I have read the report (actually, I commented on an earlier draft last month), and I found it an outstanding contribution to the field. I'll be recommending it to anyone evaluating the strategic role of Lotus Notes and related Lotus software in their organization.

See Michael's report

A few months ago, I engaged Darren Duke of Simplified Technology Solutions, to help me get my BES up and running and I have been hooked on my Blackberry every since. (Darren's a master at all things BES. I highly recommend him) Anyway, the ability to have everything in sync with Lotus Notes at all times is absolutely fantastic. At this year's Lotusphere, we will see RIM and IBM introduce even greater support for IBM Social apps (e.g. Connections and Quickr) on the BlackBerry. I'm told that with OS5 we will even see support for Symphony documents. Cool.

Unfortunately, as a productivity platform for messaging and task management, mobile devices leave much to be desired. As great as it is to receive email on my device, it's unproductive to process it on the device and then have to process it again when I return to my computer. David Allen has this same issue, too.

This weekend, David and I were talking about Lotus Notes and eProductivity and I gave him an overview of our roadmap for mobile and cloud computing. David shared a few thoughts about staying productive in the cloud, and he told me he wanted me to get eProductivity into the BlackBerry sooner than later.

I think David shares the sentiments of many mobile knowledge workers that want to get things done on the road. I know I look forward to the day when my productivity tools are available wherever I want to work, whether that is on my BlackBerry, at my desk, or in the cloud.

This is why I am pleased to have David collaborating with me to create such a solution. It's coming folks.

If you work with RIM and will be attending Lotusphere, I'd like to talk with you. Though much is under wraps, If you find me at Lotusphere I'll give you a quick overview.

Meanwhile, here's David's wish for a GTD Enabled Blackberry to use with IBM Lotus Notes:

Lotus Knows Santa’s going lean this year

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

12-24-08_SantasEMailIcon.jpgSanta is going lean this year and he's using Lotus Notes to get things done. To learn the background on this surprising development, read the full story.

Exclusive REAL photo of Santa Claus

The REAL Santa Claus, working on eProductivity on his Mac computer

Here are Santa's eProductivity screenshots, in the wild:

Santa's Calendar keeps him on schedule

Santa's inbox is easy for him to manage with eProductivity

Santa's Today view keeps him jolly and on task

Santa's Projects & Actions list keeps things from falling through the cracks

Santa's Reference Database makes for the perfect filing system

The short answer is: because Lotus Notes goes beyond traditional e-mail...

I came across this FAQ from the University of Windsor's IT team and I think they've done an outstanding job of describing a few of the reasons that Lotus Notes is more than e-mail:
You probably already know that one of the components of Lotus Notes application takes care of receiving and sending e-mail messages and other documents. But Lotus Notes is more than just another e-mail software. Behind the Notes interface that you see before you is a sophisticated system for storing, managing and transmitting information, backed up by a team of well-informed support people located right here on campus. Notes empowers groups of users by offering them a secure delivery and storage system for exchanging documents and ideas in a fast and convenient manner.

You will soon realize that Lotus Notes Mail is equipped with features that exceed that of any software package of its class used on campus to date. At first, you might be using Notes only for e-mail, but soon you will discover the true power of Notes that will allow you to perform different tasks in a quick and convenient manner . There are many advantages in store for those who choose to unleash the full potential of Lotus Notes. With Notes you can store, sort, organize, respond, spell check, embed, view and attach; all with the simple click of a button. Notes combines all the most advanced features of other e-mail applications. It integrates your e-mail with calendar that is built into your mailbox, address book, "ToDo" list and the Web. It streamlines daily information management. It offers workflow and collaboration applications, such as TeamRooms, Document Libraries, Discussion Forums. Notes security options insure that shared and private documents will not go public. Room & Resource Reservations application allows you to book rooms and resources, such as data projectors, right from your calendar when you schedule a new meeting. And there is more to come...

These folks appear to get the value of Notes and I'm pleased to see they are making efforts to communicate those benefits to others. They have a large number of Notes tech notes and FAQS that you may find helpful, too.

Well done.

Source: University of Windsor FAQ 24

I'm pleased to see that Michael Sampson has joined the conversation started by Carl and Graham about CMS Watch on SharePoint. I'm also pleased that Michael sets a few things straight about Lotus Notes.

I may get cranky  from time to time about the marketing perception of Lotus Notes, it's only because I'm passionate about the Lotus Brand and I want the world to know what people are doing with Lotus software today. I have been working with, selling, and integrating enterprise solutions based on Lotus products since before Lotus Notes came on the scene 20 years ago. Further, I  like many other Lotus Business Partners are making significant investment in building solutions around the Lotus Platform. We do this because Lotus works and because customers are solving business problems with Lotus applications. I have lots of respect and praise for Lotus Notes, and despite articles like the now retracted CMS Watch post on the difference between SharePoint and Notes, Lotus Notes isn't going away and IBM's not phasing it out. If anything, Lotus Notes is getting stronger.

With Notes 8.5.1 IBM has delivered on its promise to deliver a fully functional cross-platform eclipse-based implementation of Notes that will become the foundation for the next generation of Notes applications. I believe this, combined with the new push in Lotus marketing, will help convince the world that the next 20 years of Lotus Notes are likely to be even stronger than the first.

I'm getting ready for our first major snow storm of the season, so not much time for blogging today. I'll try to post more thoughts this week. Meanwhile, Michael's post is a worthwhile read, as is Ed's tribute to the first 20 years of Lotus Notes.

First, a disclaimer: I do not use Lotus Notes Archiving. Instead, I use another method to invisibly move my finished work (emails, calendar, and tasks) to my archive. However, I serve many Lotus Notes users that use, want to use, or are forced to use Lotus Notes archiving. It is from these clients that I have learned a great deal about the relationship between archiving and lost productivity. This blog post is written for these people and it will consider the impact of poorly configured archiving and what you can do about it.

I received an email from a customer today asking me a question about email archiving:
"My company requires that I archive my mail for anything that is greater than 30 days old. Many of my lists and contexts have disappeared as a result. NOT GOOD. HELP!"

This kind of problem gives Lotus Notes a bad name

Before I describe the problem and a work-around, I'd like to share another more tragic story: Many years ago, I was hired by a large organization to deliver one of my productivity seminars. This organization had over 180,000 Notes users  and they wanted to learn how to use Lotus Notes more effectively; they wanted me to teach their people how to really get things done with Notes.

If you are familiar with David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology or if you have follow my blogs for any period of time, you know the  importance of having a single "trusted system" in which to store your actionable information. I was delivering an in-house seminar to about 300 people from one organization and I was talking about the benefits of Lotus Notes and how well Notes works as my "trusted" system when a senior manager from the audience interrupted me:
"Sir, what you describe is fine, but I would never use Lotus Notes as my "trusted system" because I can't trust that Notes won't lose my important information!"

After the audience stopped applauding in agreement, I asked him why he felt that he couldn't trust Lotus Notes and he explained that his calendar and task information would automatically disappear after 90 days, convincing them that Lotus Notes is an untrustworthy (and generally despised) application.

The wind blew out of my sails; I had to agree with him. If my tasks and calendar items disappeared from my system,  I wouldn't trust Lotus Notes either. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be this way.

Continue Reading "Thoughts on email archiving (Admins: Here's how to keep your users from hating you or tell you Lotus Notes sucks)" »

With today's release of eProductivity 1.81 out the door, I took some time to play with the widgets in Notes 8.51. This is really neat. I was able to easily configure two widgets in Notes and I even have them now floating on my desktop as their own windows. How cool is that?

Here's a preview of the Today view and the All by Context views:
The new The new

While I'm testing this with eProductivity, you can use these steps with any view in any database in Lotus Notes.

I've documented the steps I used to accomplish this here.

Lotus Knows it’s in Fast Company

Monday, October 19th, 2009
From the title of this blog, you know that Lotus Software is the cornerstone of my productivity toolkit. Notes is the first app I load in the morning and the last one I shut down. Lotus knows it's in fast company -  some of the best and brightest (not to mention, most productive) people on the planet use and love Lotus Software.

Now, everyone "knows".

Well done, Lotus Marketing.


Rock your work with Lotus Software

Short story: 8.5.1 upgrade was fast and easy but Windows Update killed my server.

The long version: Saturday afternoon, I decided to upgrade one of my development servers from 7.04 to 8.5.1 today. I am pleased to say that as far as I can tell the upgrade was easy and fast. Once I backed up my data, it only took me about 10 minutes to install 8.5.1 and let the server do its thing at startup. I then restarted  the Domino service  and all appeared fine. How's that for a seamless upgrade? Sweet!

The last step was to reboot the server to confirm that the Domino service would restart automatically. As I went to do this, I noticed the pop-up from Microsoft, telling me I had Windows updates pending. I decided to go ahead and apply these and reboot.

That's when the fun began.

Continue Reading "10 Min to upgrade to Domino 8.5.1; 20+ hours to recover" »

I recently upgraded my Domino Mail server to 7.04* Today I noticed screens full of the following error on the console:

Error Updating view '#XXXXXX' in MAIL\username/nsf: Entry not found in index

According to this thread in the Notes/Domino 6 & 7 Forum, this is a known issue with 7.04.

One post provides steps, apparently from IBM, to fix the problem.

Another references a HotFix  704HF37 that is supposed to fix the problem.

All of the links to this hotfix appear to be broken. Has anyone seen this problem and/or a fix for it?

* I'm waiting for Domino 8.51 Gold and for my add-in tasks to be certified for 8.5

Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5.1 Coming Soon

Friday, September 25th, 2009
John Rolling has written an excellent overview of some of the new features of Notes and Domino 8.51. If you are looking for a quick way to find out what's new, be sure to check this out.

encryptioncharacters.jpgThis concern applies to any hosted server, but specifically to Domino because we are used to the inherent security features in Domino and as a result it is easy to not stress about security.

For years, my customer has taken comfort in the inherent security of Notes/Domino with its encrypted databases and encrypted data transfer. So far, so good. Local database encryption means that Lotus can deliver a truly end-to-end secure solution. Great. This means my customer can securely store confidential information, including passwords, etc. in an encrypted database. Yes, peace of mind.

Here comes cloud computing

Customer decides to move one of his Domino servers into the cloud. Fine. No problem. Many people do that every day with companies like Prominic, PSC, Connectria, and now IBM,  to name just a few.

Databases on a Domino server are typically unencrypted. This was OK when the Domino sever was at the customer premises - his Domino servers were in a locked data center with access to physical computers restricted to trusted employees. Now that his Domino server is in the cloud he cannot control who has access to his machine. Now, unencrypted databases on the server (and their resulting backups) could become a real liability. Someone with access to a copy of, say, the company president's mail file from the server would have unencrypted access to all of his messages and their content.

Customer asks:
Is this this a valid argument against hosting a Domino server
in the cloud, or is there a better practice for encrypted
databases on a hosted Domino server?


Michael Sampson has been focused on the effective use of collaboration technology since the mid-1990s. I met him at a 1997 EMA conference,  where we co-presented on the future of unified messaging -- and we've been friends and business colleagues since.

SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration, by Michael SampsonFor several years, I've encouraged Michael to write a book on Lotus Notes for collaboration. I even contacted IBM press to see what's involved - a lot. Michael shared that in the absence of significant market awareness of Lotus Notes he did not think a book around Notes made as much business sense as a book around SharePoint. (Michael's been a long time Lotus Notes user and advocate; we continue to use Notes to collaborate.) For the past few years, Michael has been focused on the use of SharePoint for collaboration. Michael's just published his second book on collaboration; this one's called "SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration." I had an opportunity to be a part of the review process and I think the book is excellent. If the examples were changed, it could easily be called "Lotus Notes Roadmap for Collaboration." What's important are the principles, which are true regardless of platform.

I've asked Michael to write a guest post for the Notes on Productivity blog, because having gone through the copy of his second book, the themes are just as relevant for Notes people as for SharePoint people. I highly recommend that you buy a copy of Michael's second  book, both to learn about SharePoint and to read about the principles of effective collaboration that Michael addresses.

Continue Reading "If We Dropped Notes and Went for SharePoint, Would That Fix Everything?" »

Tonight I reread The Difference between "Tools" and "Technologies" by a colleague and personal knowledge management expert, Steve Barth. I first read the article many years ago in the context of my KM research and PKM presentations at KMWORLD. Steve talks about tools and technology from the perspective of the knowledge worker and their different impact on knowledge worker productivity. He describes a phenomenon we have seen with our Notes customers for many years but could not easily explain. But this post is not about our product, it's about a fundamental shift in thinking that happens when the the technologies that people use become personal.

Here's an experiment for you to do or imagine doing - either way will work:

Call 100 end users of vanilla Lotus Notes and and ask them what they think of Lotus Notes.

Now, call 100 Lotus Notes end-users that use eProductivity (or any other personal application for Lotus Notes) and and ask them what they think of Lotus Notes.

Why the dramatic difference in user perspective?

Simple. The people in the second group have made Lotus Notes personal.  I know this to be the case, I've been asking people for several years and the answers are reasonably consistent.

In the first group, Lotus Notes is just a technology, imposed by the organization. They may or may not even see the connection to the work they do. When people see themselves using a technology, something's wrong.

In the second group, Lotus Notes is personal.

Technologies are pushed down by the organization. Tools are picked up by the user.

When technology becomes productive and fun it becomes a tool that people care about. It becomes personal.  

When tools become personal to someone, they care for them and they get passionate about it. Think iPhone.

The solution to making Notes users happy is to find ways to shift their perspective from Notes as an impersonal technology to Notes as personal tool to get things done.

So what can you do with this information? Think about the way that Lotus Notes is deployed and used in your organization. How do you and your users perceive it? Ask yourself what you can do to make Notes personal.

I'm always pleased when I see Lotus Notes specifically mentioned in the press . Of course, I also like it when David shares his experience using Lotus Notes and eProductivity to get things done. Now, if I can just convince IBM to stop marketing Lotus Notes as an eMail solution. Notes is so much more than eMail and there are so many powerful things that Notes does so well: collaboration, knowledge sharing, ... oh. and a powerful tool for personal productivity.

Today's Fortune Small Business section of CNN Money Magazine has an article entitled Getting Things Done guru goes digital by Chris Taylor. Chris briefly touches on David's productivity toolkit: Lotus Notes + eProductivity + SmartPhone:
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!

Notes sidebar productivity gets LinkedIN

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
IBM announced LinkedIn and TripIt sidebar widgets for Lotus Notes 8 today. These are the first two in a planned series of widgets closely integrated into the Notes 8 interface. Widgets such as these ones can provide a nice productivity boost in Notes by mashing together tools or websites that you use frequently into a single view. No more (or not as much) clicking around to different windows to get the information you need.

Chris Toohey of Domino Guru has done a nice job of reviewing the new widgets. Recommended reading for a closer look at the benefits.

I may have an opportunity for a few enterprising IBM Lotus Business partners that want to help people purchase and install Lotus Notes.

Here's the situation: Last year we launched the public version of eProductivity™ for IBM Lotus Notes. eProductivity™ is the software application that makes implementing David Allen's “Getting Things Done®” (“GTD®”) methodology in IBM Lotus Notes, easy. We designed eProductivity to be simple enough to install and use that an end-user could do the installation himself with no support from the Notes Administrator. Over the past 24 months, we've proven this model works well as over  two thirds of our customer installations were installed by end-users with no Admin support.

Unintended consequences...

As a result of our creating eProductivity for Lotus Notes, we are seeing many non-Notes users requesting to migrate to Lotus Notes in order to get eProductivity. These are not huge numbers... yet. The largest single site was only 100 users and most of these requests so far are from SMBs or individual users. That's a problem for us.
Continue Reading "I'm looking for a few IBM Lotus Business Partners" »

Just what is Lotus Notes good for, anyway?

Thursday, June 25th, 2009
In the beginning, we did not think of Notes as e-mail.  (I'm talking about the client)  We thought of Lotus Notes as the ultimate repository for information and knowledge in tacit form across distributed databases (often called "knowledge-bases" or "applications"). Oh, and Notes happened to do email and calendaring (with some issues).

Over the next 15 years Microsoft did an exemplary job (I think) of convincing the world that Notes was just email and that it wasn't very good as such and that Outlook was better application because it was a really good Personal Information Management Tool (PIM). They did a good job of shifting the focus from the many things Notes did really well to the fact that its email and calendaring had some issues. Over time, Notes users listened to the message from Microsoft and, in the absence of new information to the contrary, began to think of Notes just an email client.

Lotus, then, IBM responded with improvements to email & calendar but missed the opportunity (in my opinion) to educate the world that the Notes client - even back then - was so much more than email.

Continue Reading "Just what is Lotus Notes good for, anyway?" »

iFidelity for more productive e-mail

Friday, June 19th, 2009
One of the (many) features that I love about Lotus Notes is the ability to paste doclinks from anywhere to anywhere. Long before we had URLS we had doclinks. I feel so strongly about the value of Notes doclinks that I worked hard to get my two favorite knowledge visualization tools, MindManager and The Brain, add support for Notes Doclinks to to their product.

If you can live inside of Notes, doclinks are great but when you move to the web they sometimes break. I've been following Ben Langhinrichs blog posts about his product, iFidelity, that among other things appears to ensure that doclinks will work inside and outside of Notes - incliding within IBM's own iNotes mail template.

I have not actually used iFidelity, but from today's blog post it looks like a valuable tool to improve the experience and increase user productivity.

Blog: Why is iNotes a second class citizen?

You can lean more about iFidelity here.

While I encourage users to archive their old mail, I don't use the standard mail archiving features of Notes. Instead, I prefer to use the external filing feature of eProductivity which allows me to archive on-the-fly simply by dragging emails to an external database. This way, I am effectively archiving in real-time and with little effort. Also, the line between action and reference remains clear for me..

Today, Julia Brown blogged about Lotus Notes Mail Archiving today on the Lotus Notes 8 Tips Blog:
Archiving is a really great way to reduce the size of your mail file, and to keep things from getting cluttered in your mail. But we know a lot of people never set up archiving because they can't figure it out, and the current help is not sufficient. So this week's FAQ-style tips should help you out with setting up and using archiving

I think Julia's made good start at explaining how anyone can set up archiving for Notes mail and stay under their company email quota.

As I posted in my comment on her blog, one of the problems that often see is when users (or this Admins) incorrectly set up archiving to archive all documents in a user's mail file - including tasks and calendar entries. This, of course, undermines the value of Lotus Notes as a trusted system. Properly setup, however, Notes archives can be a helpful way to keep file sizes down and email access speedy. Hopefully Julia will address some of the many ways to configure archiving options in a future post.

Lotus Notes 8 Tips:
How do I reduce the size of my mail file (to avoid going over my mail quota)?

Using Lotus Notes to Read Personal Mail

Saturday, May 16th, 2009
Lotus Notes Product Manager, Dwight Morse, has just posted a detailed tutorial that explains how to use Lotus Notes to retrieve your personal email (e.g. from a hosted account.) Dwight provides detailed screen shots for each step. If you are a first-time user of Lotus Notes and you want to use Notes as your personal information management system, I think you will find this tutorial helpful.

I'm pleased to see this tutorial. Many first-time users are installing Notes for themselves, either to get eProductivity or because they have learned that GTD Author, David Allen, uses Notes. Either way, these people need simple steps to find, download, install, and configure Notes. This is an area in which IBM has historically been light on information for the end-user.

Dwight's tutorial is a step in the right direction to making it easy for people to install and use what David Allen and I believe is an outstanding information management and self-organization tool.

I look forward to Dwight's future tips and I will blog about them as I see them.

Here's what's on my wish list for the future:
  • An equivalent tutorial for a first-time installation of Notes 8.x for Mac and PC. (Including how to locate, navigate to and download the software.)
  • Videos for each tutorial posted on YouTube to make it easy for people to find and get started
What first-time Notes user topics would YOU like to see IBM blog about?

Link: How to use Lotus Notes to retrieve your personal email

I am about to begin a major research project - one that will require that I bring all of my PKM tools to bear for the next three months as I process hundreds of articles and thousands of other digital artifacts.

I will continue to make extensive use of three of my favorite tools for information and knowledge management:
  • Lotus Notes
  • Personal Brain
  • MindManager
The issue that I am thinking about is where I will use these tools and how. Each has its strengths. For this post, however, I want to focus on a more fundamental issue: organization and portability and I am reaching out to my readers to join the discussion.

For this project, I will need to integrate these tools more than I have in the past. Thankfully, I have the integration down quite well. Both teams at MindJet and The Brain have accommodated my request to integrate support for Lotus Notes Doclinks, which means that I can simply paste a Notes doclink into a MindManager map or a Personal Brain and have that become an active link or thought that will link back to the source in Notes. (A big shout out and thanks to both companies for listening to my passionate pleas and for looking at the source code I sent them to do the job. Both product work great with Notes.)

Now, I want to add two more factors into this equation:
  • External files stored in folders on the file system
  • The ability to sync my MindManager maps, brain, and external files between computers.
Doing either of the above is actually not difficult - I've been doing either one (at a time) for years. What gets tricky is that I now want to do both - Oh, and it has to work seamlessly and reliably.

So, let me restate my objective:

Objective: Seamless nonconcurrent use of Lotus Notes, Personal Brain & MindManager (with all related files in My Docs) between multiple computers.

We can leave Lotus Notes out of the equation because, well, it simply works. I want your help exploring the issue of file management under both Personal Brain and MindManager.

Continue Reading "Lotus Notes, Personal Brain, and MindManager playing together" »

As a knowledge worker, part of working productively is having confidence in the tools that you use. For myself and David Allen, Lotus Notes is our productivity platform of choice and we can't help but share how we enjoy using it. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys the same passion and vision for Lotus Notes as a powerful tool for knowledge work as we do. Sometimes, people even complain, blog, Tweet, or otherwise make it known that they are unhappy with Lotus Notes.

Fortunately, we have a strong Yellow community that helps one another. (more on that in a moment)

Today, Scott Hooks blogged about his insights helping people see Notes differently in his post: Lotus Notes Sucks? Not so much. His timing couldn't be better and I find it refreshing to see people reaching out to make a difference.

As a Chief Lotus Advocate, Scott makes it a point to find unhappy Notes users and offer to help them. Scott makes two observations that I want to point out:
Each time I spotted one [a complaint about Notes], I would reply to it and offer assistance if they would provide more detail. Most people didn't respond. My hypothesis is that most people don't want to have their minds changed about something they "like to dislike."
Like Scott, I've found that with a few minutes of discussion, I can often help people change their thinking about Notes.

Scott continues with his observation:
Continue Reading "Lotus Notes Sucks? Not so much (A happy ending)" »

I was invited to participate in last week's blogger conference call with IBM Lotus General Manager Bob Picciano.  The topic for the call was IBM's Smarter Work initiative. I was unable to attend the call due to a prior commitment (more on that later) but Nathan Freeman has done an extraordinary job of summarizing the call for our benefit.

I'm interested in seeing where the Smarter Work Initiative goes. I know that David Allen has offered to meet with Bob to discuss Smarter Work. I think it would be great to have IBM learn from someone that understands Smarter Work and who happens to be a Lotus fan.

Anyway, I highly recommend that you read Nathan's summary and listening to Bob's comment to Nathan.

Bruce asked Bob about Twitter. Apparently Bob does not follow Twitter but he does read lots of blogs. (Bob, sorry I missed the blogger conference call. No idea if I'm on the list of blogs you read, but I'd love to talk with you.)

If you have not already seen it, Bob had a great Op Ed piece at CIO com that is also worth reading.

Today, I needed to access some information stored a long time ago. A quick search of my system found it -- in a Notes database that I created in 1993. I was able to open the database and access the information easily, even though the database and data were created almost 16 years ago. How many products and data files can your current systems read from that long ago?

I started thinking about how many personal computers I have owned in that time and it has to be close to 20, covering the following operating systems:

Windows 3.1
Windows For Workgroups 3.11
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows Vista

I have used this same Notes database, with few changes on each of these systems. Oh, and there was no data conversion or migration. (Unless you call replicating a Notes database to a new machine a migration.) For people in the yellow bubble this is nothing new. For people working with other products and platforms this may be a novel concept.

What brought all of this up is the fact that I'm writing a paper on enterprise content management and I have been reading about the nightmares of managing and migrating content. For the most part, this has simply not been an issue. That's productive!

The theme of this blog is all about productivity and getting things done with IBM Lotus Notes. Anything that I find that increases my productivity in some way is a candidate for the Notes On Productivity Blog.

I'd like to highlight a solution that I think has potential to change the way small businesses get things done: Lotus Foundations. Foundations is a clever appliance that will save businesses a lot of time and expense while providing them access to a suite of productivity tools including IBM Lotus Notes, Lotus Symphony, and more.*

I blogged about the Foundations server last year and I shared that I was excited to see this solution for the SMB community. At Lotusphere, I Met David Lawrence, one of our eProductivity champions and he took me over to the foundations exhibit where I got to see and touch a Foundations server. Unfortunately, I did not get to actually use it (too many people waiting in line) but I saw enough to see that will be a game changer for small businesses that want to focus on their business and not on managing servers.

Here's an outstanding 10-minute video by Doug Spencer that provides a quick overview of the Lotus Foundations server and how to configure and deploy it.

Via: Bilal Jaffery's blog

I have a small IBM Server here in my lab that as been running Domino 24x7 for the past 6 years. Perhaps, when it is time to upgrade again, I'll replace it with a Lotus Foundations server so that I can offer a hands-on perspective. Meanwhile, I encourgae you to check out the video.

*Since returning from Lotusphere, I've had several inquiries from Lotus Business partners that want to bundle eProductivity with Foundations for the ultimate SMB productivity solution. Hopefully some of them will share their experience so we can all learn more.

Last week, I encouraged Tamara to blogged about her productivity pursuit and how and why she chose to dump Outlook and switch to Lotus Notes following the GTD Summit. Yesterday, she made a blog post in which she shares her experience installing and using Lotus Notes on a Mac and PC. Here are a few excerpts:
I had no idea that Lotus Notes was still around.  I’m not stupid… I know David Allen uses Lotus Notes, but I had it in my head that it was stagnant software.  Like it hadn’t been updated in a zillion years. I also had it in my head that even if it was still out there and being updated, it was only on an enterprise level.  Not a single user level.  Definitely not available on a Mac in any way, shape or form.  Eric set me straight and I left our meeting excited to get up to my hotel room and download Lotus Notes for the Mac.  It was HARD to get to the download area - I had to create a log in! Dude, that’s too much work! - and then, the entire layout was just unfriendly. It was really a battle.  I was not happy at all.  Not quite frustrated, but unhappy.

When I got home from the Summit, I tried to install Lotus Notes on the Mac.  It installed, wouldn’t do email, and then crashed and burned. Now, when I try to start the software, it tells me that it can’t find the user ID and it can’t find the server.  I don’t know what's wrong.  Googling isn’t getting me the answers I need, and the IBM tech note assumes you’re in a business environment - not on a couch, in your jammies, with a MacBook on your lap.  I’m a little over using Notes on the Mac.  I just can’t get it to behave and I’m seriously tired of fighting with it. I never did get eProductivity installed on there, either.

I ended up getting a new computer [a PC] earlier than planned. As soon as I got it up and running, I downloaded fresh copies of both Lotus Notes and eProductivity.  They installed like a charm and I haven’t looked back.  Every day, I open Notes and view my lists in eProductivity with a huge smile on my face.  (Yes, I AM a dork.  Thanks for asking.)  I work for two people I call Crazy Makers and just knowing that I have a trusted system where I can find everything seriously makes my day.  I NEVER felt that comfortable with Outlook. It’s much easier to deal with their constant insanity now!! I really love how easy it is to create projects, subprojects, link documents and write notes in the system while I’m on the phone with them, trying desperately to keep up as they jump from topic to topic.

For me, the combo of Lotus Notes and eProductivity on a PC is like using a Mac: It. Just. Works...  ...At this point, I don’t care if I need to get a paper route to pay for it.  Lotus Notes and eProductivity will NOT be coming off the work PC once the trials are over.  I will fight to the death to keep the software.

Continue Reading ""I’m a Mac and a PC and I love Lotus Notes"" »

I love changing people's perspective when they tell me that they hate Lotus Notes or that Notes sucks. In fact, it's given me a whole new outlook when I hear people say "I hate Notes or Notes Sucks." I find that with a little information, most people I speak with will change their view of Notes. Some will even switch. A few weeks ago, at the GTD Summit, I recorded several interviews with people who stopped by our productivity tools exhibit, I had forgotten that I recorded these. After Ed Brill's blog today about how I helped someone convince themselves to switch to Notes, I decided to retrieve my digital voice recorder and download the interviews. I found two interviews that you will find of interest:

Click to hear recording #1: "You mean Notes isn't dead?" (5 Min.)
Meet Tamara - She's an accountant, a devoted Mac user,  but also runs Windows in order to use QuickBooks. She's someone who just discovered that Notes isn't dead and that it even runs on the Mac. (By the way, Tamara is the person that Ed blogged about today.) A few days later, Tamara had migrated her setup from Outlook to Lotus Notes and eProductivity and she tweeted her experience along the way...

Here, posted with her permission, is her testimony:
Eric, I can't begin to tell you how happy I am with the Lotus Notes/eProductivity combo. Everything I've tried to do in Outlook, I either couldn't do to my satisfaction or it was too much of a hassle to maintain. It's very easy to jump into and I've, so far, found that it has actually helped me process my inbox quicker. I'm looking forward to coming in on Monday and tackling my weekly review. NEVER thought I'd say that.

A happy Notes camper tweets about her experience.

Click to hear recording #2: "I Hate Lotus Notes" (11 Min)
Meet Dave. He uses Lotus Notes at work and HATES it. (At least I believe he believes he did. I think is simply uninformed.) This is a longer interview but a very interesting one nonetheless.

Continue Reading "Listen to how I help people convince themselves that Notes doesn't really suck" »

For many years, I have used and recommended mobility solutions from CommonTime, Sybase, and RIM. Each company has specific strengths that make their offering attractive to clients that want to extend Lotus Notes to their mobile devices.

For iPhone users, there were few solutions at the enterprise level to sync Lotus Notes mail, calendar, tasks, and contacts to the iPhone.

This week, Sybase announced the iAnywhere Mobile Office for the iPhone:
iAnywhere Mobile Office extends Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange to iPhone users for a complete enterprise solution that supports email, calendaring, tasks and contacts with corporate directory look-up. In addition, it provides several key security features for IT to administer and control iPhones within the enterprise including:
  • Application password protection
  • On-device encryption for all enterprise data contained within the iAnywhere Mobile Office application on an iPhone
  • On-demand remote data wipe to remove all enterprise data within the application in the case of a device being lost or stolen

While the iPhone App is free, it requires an iAnywhere Mobile Office server and a client access license to connect with email systems.

This is exciting news. I know many eProductivity have been asking for a solution to manage their tasks on iPhone. Perhaps this will be the answer.

If you are using this product, I would like to hear from you.

Dave Pollard asked a question that many of us have asked (or should ask):
 Shouldn't unanswered email, to dos, & calendar items be a single application?:
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.

Some quick thoughts:

Continue Reading "Shouldn't Unanswered E-mail, To Dos, and Calendar Entries Be a Single Application? " »

Some of my productivity-minded friends are attempting to use an iPhone to get things done with Lotus Notes. My friend, Kelly Forrister, of the David Allen Company, has been blogging about implementing GTD on her iPhone and I have enjoyed learning from her experiences. Unfortunately, many of the solutions we've tried to connect the iPhone to Notes so far haven't worked out very well for us and it's been a rough road to integration.

At Lotusphere 2009, IBM announced that they would integrate ActiveSync into the IBM Lotus Notes Traveler 8.5 platform offering so that iPhone (and presumably Windows Mobile,too) users could natively sync their iPhone with their Lotus Notes Mail., Calendar, and Contacts. Fellow Notes blogger, Gregg Edlred points to the news surrounding the announcement of the forthcoming iPhone OS 3.0 release with respect to support for synchronization with Lotus Notes. So far, things appear to consistently suggest that we can expect to see this functionality mid-year.

This is encouraging news.

eProductivity for Lotus Notes

I've explored the idea of writing or partnering with someone to write an iPhone-specific version of eProductivity for IBM Lotus Notes but to really make things happen, we'd like to see a few things in terms of developer support.

Here are some of the things that I'm still looking for, hoping for, waiting for:

  1. Full Sync of Tasks to a suitable onboard task manager (Notably missing in the ActiveSync announcements or any press that I have seen is any mention of Tasks, but that's another post for another day.)
  2. Better support for on device application management with sync to external databases wired/wirelessly so we can write our own task app (see #1)
  3. Multitasking - so that we can run multiple apps/threads concurrently and have stuff happen in the background
  4. At least minimal security/remote admin - important for enterprise users.

What are you most waiting for in terms of integration between the iPhone and Lotus Notes?

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.

Continue Reading "I have a new outlook when I hear "I hate Lotus Notes" or "Lotus Notes Sucks"" »

This evening, Chris Blatnick  (Interface Matters) and I were invited by Bruce Elgort and Julian Robichaux to talk about eProductivity for IBM Lotus Notes.

I talked about GTD, eProductivity, and Lotus Notes from a designer perspective and Chris talked about how he uses these to get things done.

Session notes, courtesy of the Taking Notes Podcast:
The show runs 49 Minutes and is 45.7 MB (128kbps)

Taking Notes Podcast #96

Special thanks to Bruce and Julian for inviting us on the show and thanks to show sponsor, Elguji Software for making it happen.

Here's a helpful productivity tip from Vaughan Rivett. It's actually a video tip. Vaughan has created a series of videos to help users get the most from Lotus Notes. Here's a link to his latest post on Keyboard Shortcuts in Lotus Notes 8.

In addition to using the standard keyboard shortcuts, Many of my clients use ActiveWords which integrates very nicely with eProductivity and IBM Lotus Notes. The neat thing about ActiveWords and the integration with Notes is that you can connect to Notes functionality no matter where you are - Notes does not even have to be running!

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 believe that GTD Summit will prove to be an important event to attend, possibly the best investment for 2009. The list of speakers is impressive and the breakout sessions will address important areas of personal and organizational productivity from key thought leaders

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.

Lotusphere Comes to You - now ON-LINE

Monday, March 9th, 2009
You may not have been able to attend Lotusphere, but that does not mean that you have to miss out on the news and events. There are two ways to do this. The first is to check out the Lotusphere Comes to You events that IBM is hosting around the world - over 200+ events in all. The second is a new opportunity I just learned about: Lotusphere Comes to You  ON-LINE, hosted by the LotusUserGroup.org.

From their web site:
Lotusphere Comes to You ON-LINE is a premier on-line event series featuring newly updated presentations from Lotusphere 2009, and some special, 10-minute briefing sessions from our sponsors. Designed to bring anyone who couldn't get to Orlando the critical information and the excitement they missed, this FREE on-line series will help you get more from your existing IT investment and boost collaboration across your enterprise.

I'm delighted to see public events like this.

Lotusphere Comes to You  ON-LINE

How can the Notes Community help encourage potential new Lotus Notes users?

As a result of the public launch of eProductivity and David Allen's subsequent endorsement of eProductivity as the ultimate productivity tool for IBM Lotus Notes, I now receive many requests from people that are hearing about Lotus Notes for the first time. The emails usually follow a familiar pattern: a) Eric, I heard about Lotus Notes and/or eProductivity from your [web site | blog  | David Allen's speech at ....] b) I would like to [evaluate | purchase] Lotus Notes for myself or my company, c) I went to the IBM site and I am lost at where to begin or how to get started using Lotus Notes for myself or my company. d) Would you please sell me a Lotus Notes License so that I can get started using eProductivity? I really want to set up my systems like [you  | David Allen].

My company, ICA, stopped selling IBM Lotus Notes over a decade years ago when we decided to focus our efforts on consulting. That said, we routinely recommend products and solutions, including IBM Lotus Notes, and we encourage our clients to purchase directly from the vendor or reseller of their choosing. I am more than happy to make qualified referrals and I ask nothing in return other than the assurance that people we refer will be treated with the utmost respect and concern for their needs.

Over the years, I have referred many people to IBM and CDW.COM to purchase Lotus Notes. Recently, however, the last few people I referred came back to me frustrated, either because someone at CDW said that they do not sell Lotus Notes (they do) or because they were offered them hundreds of options for Notes and the sales rep could not help them determine which Notes product to buy. I find that hard to believe but given the inquiries I'll consider it fact.

To me, this is a wonderful opportunity for an enterprising BM Business partner or blogger.

In the past, most of our large sales of Notes originated as inquiries from individuals who in turn influenced their organizations to switch to Lotus Notes. I think this is a great opportunity to help folks that have expressed an interest in using Lotus Notes. I think it would also be a great opportunity to help show the marketplace that Notes is a valuable product not just for big business but for small businesses and individuals as well. I know that there are qualified business partners out there that would be happy to serve them. Most of the Notes blogs I'm aware of focus on people within the Yellow Bubble. I'm not aware of any blogs intended for people unfamiliar with Lotus Notes or new to Notes and a Mac, but I think it is a great opportunity.  

Continue Reading "IBM BP/Blogger opportunity to help future Notes users" »

Free passes to GTD Summit with David Allen

Thursday, February 19th, 2009
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.

Lotusphere Productivity Resource CDs are Ready!

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
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.

Lotusphere 2009 Resource CD. A gift from Eric Mack and the eProductivity Blog! Visit Pedestal #722 to pick up yours.

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!

Michael Sampson: Interview with David Allen on Lotus Notes

Lotus Notes Personal Edition Coming in 2009?

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008
I've often lamented the fact that there is no way for an individual to easily get his hands on Lotus Notes for personal use. (Yes, he can sign up for passport and buy and express license, which is what I recommend, but the process is not easy.)

I've long advocated for a Lotus Notes personal edition and I'm not alone in this. Fellow Notes blogger, Karl-Henry Martinsson  (aka Texas Swede) just blogged his thoughts on a Notes personal edition he'd like to see. Nice work, Karl. As far as how to limit the use of personal clients against an enterprise, that's actually very easy. I've blogged about that before:
In short, a personal user, not attached to a Domino server, will get a UserID in the form of Name/Name. E.g. "Eric Mack/Eric Mack". This means that I am a user "Eric Mack" in the domain of "Eric Mack." This in itself will prevent me from accessing any server unless I have been cross certified with it. One thing Lotus could do would be to make a restriction to not allow certifying an ID to servers where the name and domain are the same, thus blocking out personal users. Or, a fancier mechanism could be employed.

My point here is not to argue how to make it happen technically - IBM Lotus has many smart people who can do that, but to support the idea of a personal version of Notes. A stand-alone Notes client that could pull mail from a variety of sources would be an ideal alternative to a Thunderbird or Outlook client. It could even be the entry point to a cloud offering. Then, if there were a way to buy server access in the cloud so that I, as an individual could have all of my stuff in sync (e.g. the old Groove model) and share it - that would be cool.

I've made no secret that I believe that IBM Lotus needs to get personal with Notes before there's no room left to enter that space. Focusing in the features that enable individuals to become more productive and giving them the tools (e.g. a personal version of Notes) are steps I'd like to see.

So, will we see any of this in 2009? Your guess is as good as mine. What do you think?

See: "Lotus Notes Home Edition" - my thoughts

Update: there'a a great discussion going on at Bruce's blog. Ed Brill is addressing some of the comments. Not sure how I mised that post & thread. See: This is what IBM Lotus needs to (figure out how to) do

Santa Gets Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
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.

12-24-08_SantasEMailIcon.jpgTo 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:

Santa's In-Box

Santa's eProductivity In-box

Santa's Projects & Actions List

Santa's Projects and Actions list

Santa's Daily Dashboard

Santa's eProductivity Dashboard

Curt brings up some interesting points in response to David Allen's question in his attempt to understand why end users don't know the power of Lotus Notes. He even offers a few possible explanations:
  • 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.

David Allen and I will address some of these topics at our upcoming Lotusphere sessions:
IBM Lotus Notes and Me: Maximizing Personal Productivity with Lotus Notes
Getting Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes

"Michael Sampson posted some thoughts about my conversation with David Allen, Bruce Elgort and Tom Duff regarding the power of Lotus Notes. He's picked up on comments regarding the benefits of collaborative workspaces for ad hoc topics and projects.

As I commented on Michael's blog, I'm partly to blame for The David Allen Company's success with Lotus Notes. You see, when consulting for my clients, I've always focused on the end user need and allowed that to drive the architecture, software selection and implementation. I simply gave my clients whatever they needed to get their job done and I tried not to let myself of the technology get in the way. As a result, for those of my clients that use IBM Lotus Notes, Notes became a big win for them. While this is not be a radical approach, I'm often surprised to see how some implementations are done; as a result, people often develop differing opinions about Notes.

Anyway, Michael Sampson's post is a good one and worth a read:
David Allen Comments on the Power of Lotus Notes for Ad Hoc Databases

IBM Lotus Notes Sucks People into Two Camps

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
No topic on my blog has generated as much controversy as whether people like or don't like Lotus Notes. It seems that many people polarized into two camps; they either love Lotus Notes or they hate Lotus Notes - there doesn't seem to be a middle ground, although I'm sure there are folks in the middle somewhere. This is a topic I have been passionate about for 15 years and I have written and spoken publicly about in my seminars for as long. To this day, I continue to get blog comments and emails from people who want to express a passionate view for one camp or the other. Once, I even had an IBM Lotus Business partner write me a passionate letter suggesting that my encouraging this discussion in the public forum was a disservice to IBM/Lotus and their business partners. I can understand his concern and he and I have had many delightful conversations since, but I think this topic needs to be discussed because in 15 years the problem or at least the general perception (which is probably more relevant yet equally damaging) is that nothing's changed.  Well, a lot has changed and those of us that actually use Lotus Notes know that the Notes team continues to innovate and enhance a product that I'm not embarrassed to say is my favorite product to use.

IBM/Lotus and managers of Notes shops face a big challenge:
There would appear to be a HUGE disconnect between the way that IBM/Lotus markets (or doesn't market?) the Lotus Notes product, the way that managers of enterprises that use Notes roll it out and train (or don't train?) their end users, and the way that end users are actually using (or not using) the product.

All of this has a big impact on end-user perception and satisfaction.

Taking Notes on the issue...

This weekend, David Allen and I recorded a 45 minute podcast with Bruce Elgort, and Thomas Duff on the Taking Notes Podcast.  The planned agenda was to talk about David's new book, Making It All Work, my plan to introduce eProductivity at Lotusphere, and the session that David Allen and I will be presenting together at Lotusphere. At least, that was the agenda.

But, that's not what happened...

Continue Reading "IBM Lotus Notes Sucks People into Two Camps" »

I try to blog about a variety of things that I find productive, particularly as they relate to my own use of Lotus Notes. Today, I read Joe Litton's post about how he's using Ytria tools to modify form and view action bars. I was reminded that I've had an action on my Someday/Maybe list to get together with my developers and write a blog post on how we are using Ytria tools to speed along our software development.

YTRIALOGO.gifIt's still on my list to write this, but I thought I would put in a good plug for the tools nonetheless. Ytria tools simply work. And, they save a lot of timeand reduce errors.

Since I do not do much development myself, the two tools that I use the most as part of the QA and deployment for eProductivity are: scanEZ and signEZ. I use these tools to set/reset hidden design and to sign our approved templates before we send them to customers. Other tools like the actionBarEZ and viewEZ and agentEZ are more popular with the development team.  The support has been great, too and Andre Hausberger has become quite the champion for us these past few years.

Anyway, if you are a Notes developer looking to improve your productivity, I encourage you to check out Ytria tools.

Recently, I met with my good friend and client, David Allen, to discuss his participation in our upcoming Lotusphere 2009 presentation. As I frequently do, I recorded the day's conversations in order to capture notes and ideas about key points. (I use a Sony MXD-20 which let's me transcribe at 2-3x speed). I asked David if I could share a segment of our discussion about Lotus Notes, what he finds cool about it, and a number of other topics, rants, and ideas about the way people use (or don't use) Lotus Notes.

There's no real structure here but I've noted a some key points in case you want to jump around:

Continue Reading "David Allen and I talk about Notes/Lotusphere" »

Mikkel Heisterberg recently posted a top-10 list for Notes & Domino. It's unclear if this list is his or IBM's, the comments would suggest that the list is IBM's. In any case, the list offers some interesting things to think about. Certainly, from a personal productivity perspective, calendar federation and native Mac OS 10.5 support will be popular with people. I had an opportunity to see the calendar federation features at work when I attended ILUG. I look forward to seeing how these play out and perhaps how we can leverage this support in eProductivity as well.

On the web side, I'm interested in the xPages support as we work to extend our solutions to the web in new and dynamic ways.  (If you want to learn more about xPages, be sure to check out Stephan's blog as he is a major champion of xPages).

Finally, I know sidebars are now old news, I think they deserve mention as I expect to see more impressive side-bar productivity applications soon.

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.  

Continue Reading "Will Traveler make getting things done with Notes easy?" »

As I prepare to attend Lotusphere, I've been thinking about how to handle the thousands of business cards I will collect and how I will integrate these into my workflow. Since we've not reached the point where people are including a mag stripe or high-density bar codes on the back of their business cards, I'm faced with either typing in the card details myself or getting a business card scanner. Always one for a tech challenge, I've decided to go the card scanning route.

Over the years, I've worked with a few business card scanners, and while these usually include support for Outlook, Goldmine, Act!, and a number of other PIMs, Lotus Notes support is often weak, and usually limited to basic address fields in the personal address book. I did a cursory search a year ago and found that someone had written an import tool. Ideally, I'm looking for seamless integration - without having to write it myself.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this quest.

If you are presently using a business card scanner with Lotus Notes, I hope you will take a few minutes to share your experience or, better yet, blog about it and send me the link so that I can refer folks to your blog.

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.


I just met someone who loves Lotus Notes!

Friday, October 24th, 2008
I've frequently complained that when I meet people who use Lotus Notes, they are often polarized in their extreme like or dislike for Notes. In recent years, it seems that the more outspoken folks are in the latter group.  I've shared that I've found many things in common about this group.

1. Notes thrust upon them by IT or Management with little explanation of why they are using Notes

2. Limited awareness of what Notes can do or even how to use simple features like
       Document Library
       Personal Journal
       Domain Search, Full-Text Index, etc.
       Off-line Access, Replication, etc.

3. Little or no training provided, sometimes only PDF guide

I've also shared that I've been successful - often in just 10-15 minutes - of giving these people enough new information to cause them to walk away understanding a) the value of Notes  to the company and the value of Notes to them, b) what they can do with Notes right away. It's really quite easy and I'm surprised that more companies or even IBM doesn't do this. (It would certainly save their company help desk a lot of grief.)

Continue Reading "I just met someone who loves Lotus Notes!" »

I've been using and recommending CommonTime and iAnywhere Solutions for years. In fact, CommonTime mNotes is a key part of my personal productivity toolkit. I love the way that it seamlessly extends PIM functionality in Lotus Notes to mobile devices.

Earlier this year, a client purchased a Nokia E90 Business Communicator for me as a gift. The E90 is truly an amazing piece of hardware. Unfortunately, I'm unable to use it for two key reasons: 1) no native support for tasks (Sorry, notes attached to calendar do not count) and 2) No support for synch of tasks (see #1) and categories. These were terrible oversights in my opinion.

I'm pleased to read about CommonTime's release of MSuite 5, which extends support for the Symbian S60-based SmartPhones, including the E90. As far as the Nokia support, I hope that CommonTime does not repeat Nokia's mistake by excluding true support for tasks. We'll see. Of course MSuite 5 is about much more than the Nokia support and I look forward to using this product. If it works out well for me, I'll add it to my productivity toolkit.  

via Volker Weber

I've been following with interest several recent blog posts about Microsoft's missteps with the introduction of Vista and with IBM's move to make Lotus Notes Eclipse based. I see valid arguments for why Microsoft or IBM would introduce the products they did and, as a user myself and consultant to clients that use these products, I have my own experiences from which to base an opinion.

When I consider a new tool or an upgrade, what do I look for?

As an eProductivity Specialist - someone that makes a living by showing my clients how to apply Information, Communication, and Action tools and technologies to knowledge work - I get to try all kinds of hardware and software tools. Few of them make it on to my production computer.

Here are some of the questions I ask myself:

1. What will this new tool DO  to my personal productivity?
2. Will this new tool give me a capability that will increase my ability to get things done or to innovate?
3. Will this new tool make my work more enjoyable?

If I see the opportunity for even a reasonable boost in productivity, capability, or fun, I'll often try it.

What is my current desktop work solution?

In case you are curious, here's what I'm currently using to get things done...

Continue Reading "Will Vista or Notes 8 make me more productive?" »

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.

With David Allen's recent comments about Lotus Notes, last week, I've decided to revisit the idea of presenting a session on personal knowledge management and productivity using Notes for next year's Lotusphere 2009 conference.

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.

Cast your vote now and we'll soon find out!


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.

David Allen's up in San Francisco at the Office 2.0 conference today. This morning, David delivered the opening keynote with Office 2.0 conference organizer Ismael Ghalimi.


I understand that Ismael asks David, "Why Lotus Notes?"  David shares his thoughts on Getting Things Done with Lotus and eProductivity. Cool!

I've not yet had an opportunity to watch the video but I see that Ed Brill's already blogged about it.

Update: Watch the Office 2.0 Opening Keynote with David Allen  Nice plug for Lotus Notes & GTD at 00:17:15 minutes

Lotus Notes: Tweet Tweet Tweet

Friday, August 29th, 2008
Ian White's blog post, "Does the world really hate Lotus Notes?" hit a nerve on a topic I was already passionate about, so I unloaded with a blog post sharing how I respond to people that tell me they hate Notes.

What I overlooked in Ian's original post was his proposal that we, the Notes Community, consider Tweeting 4 Notes.  I think Ian's idea of a 'tweet 4 notes' campaign might be an excellent way to help bridge the gap between IBM and those who use and love Notes and the knowledge workers that use notes.

Some of these people use Notes because they "get it" and they see the value both personally and professionally. Others may use Notes because it was forced upon them from above.

I think that anything that will promote conversation can't help but improve people's experiences using Notes. Often a simple productive tip or how-to can make the difference between a positive or negative experience. I'm thankful for the efforts that people like Ed and Alan put forth to share how people are using Notes and to explore tips and tricks with Notes. I hope to build on what they have done and see if I can help extend the reach of the message that Notes is Good by communicating across the chasm with the everyday knowledge workers that use Notes.

So, what do you think? Will you join Ian in tweeting for Notes?

I received this email from Scott in Atlanta. He correctly points out that most product comparisons have one or both products using an old version. Scott asks if there is a way to compare the current version of Outlook with the current version of Lotus Notes.

Seems like a reasonable request to me. Perhaps someone has already done this and would like to help Scott in his evalutaion?
Hi Eric-
I am making the decision to use either Notes or Outlook on my home computer without a network or shared users.

Your blog was fantastic but I fear many of the points raised as to the differences may not be relevent since many posters were using the older versions of both Outlook and Notes.

Is there a way to compare both products based on the latest versions of both only?

Continue Reading "Is there an honest comparison of of Notes & Outlook?" »

In today's ComputerWeekly column, Ian White, asks, "Does the world really hate Notes?"

No. I think the world loves to complain.

As far as Lotus Notes is concerned, I run into folks that say they hate Notes as often as I run into users that say that they hate (insert product name here).  (I even know Mac users that complain about their software. Shocking, I know.)

In my experience it often comes down to
   a) no understanding of "What's in it for me?", or
   b) lack of training - management simply said here's your new tool
How do we, the Notes community help fix this problem? I think we need to start by understanding the problem.

Many years ago, Zig Ziglar taught me that most people never ever change their mind. They simply make new decisions when presented with new information.

I've been able to show many a self-proclaimed Notes-hater new information -- a simple few things that they can do that will be personally beneficial to them -- and almost immediately they change their song about Lotus Notes.  

It's that easy.

Continue Reading "Does the world really hate Notes? I don't think so" »

Lotus Notes offers a number of productivity features, and I try to learn about and use them all, where appropriate.

Every once in a while, I run across one that simply does not work - at least not for me.  Case in point: Responding to Internet E-Mail prompts me with a Multilingual MIME Warning. (This warning even made it onto Ed Brill's list of 'Most egregious Notes error messages')


Nevermind that if I was an average user I would have no idea what MIME was, the check box "Don't show message" again, does not work for me.

As a result, each and every time I reply to an email I still get the prompt - twice.

I've been searching the forums, so far unsuccessfully. I wondered if this was a Notes ini issue, but I have many other settings that stick just fine.

Any thoughts?

If I cannot find a solution, I'll have to reclassify this post in the deproductivity category. It's a real pain.

Lotus Software has been a staple of my collaboration and productivity toolkit for over 20 years. I frequently evaluate alternative products for my personal information management and team collaboration needs but I've yet to find a comprehensive solution that can touch Lotus Notes & Domino across so many areas. In fact, when I set out to build my own ultimate GTD implementation tool, I chose to use Lotus Notes as the core foundation for my development

20080811LotusYe11owDay.gifIt's with a happy smile that I celebrate the news that Lotus Software continues to thrive, even outgrowing Microsoft, by winning millions of customer seats worldwide. To celebrate this achievement, fellow productivity blogger Alan Lepofsky proposed that we designate August 11 as “Ye11ow Day.” I've decided to celebrate by keeping SameTimeGuy next to my ThinkPad.


Thank you IBM/Lotus!  Keep up the good work!

Cite: IBM press release from 31 July 2008, “IBM Growth in Emerging Markets Fuels Lotus Momentum”

As I prepare to take our eProductivity software public (It's been a private client-only solution for many years) I needed to find ways to support a growing community of eProductivity users. Since we are already a Notes and Domino shop, naturally I first checked to see what was available within the Notes community. This search led me to two outstanding tools: IdeaJam, by elguiji software and DomBulletin from OpenNTF.org.

is an amazing product that engages community by allowing people to post ideas and vote on others. IdeaJam wraps all of this in the normal social tools like RSS, comments, email alerts, tag clouds and so on. What's neat about the voting is that you can cast a vote to Promote or Demote an idea. So, over the course of a day/week/month, you can see how the popular ideas float to the top. If you are a power Notes user, then you are probably already familiar with the IdeaJam site that Notes users are using to tell IBM what features are most important to them. In the year that the public IdeaJam site's been up I think they have had more ideas and votes posted than McDonald sold Hamburgers in the same period! (Well, close.)


In the very short time that we've had our IdeaJam site up we've had several excellent ideas submitted and some of these are already in our development queue. I plan to blog more about IdeaJam as I get more experience with the process of involving users in the design process. You're welcome to check out our fledgling eProductivityJam.

Continue Reading "Two social productivity tools: IdeaJam and DomBulletin" »

I read this morning that Alan Lepofsky has left IBM for Socialtext. As a friend of Alan's it both exciting and saddening to read this announcement. Alan's influence on me personally was one of the contributing factors in my decision to launch this blog by this title. Although I had no prior knowledge I have often wondered if Alan would not be more satisfied working for a smaller company. It always seemed that each time I spoke with him in person that he had more ideas and passion than he could comfortably convey through his blog or current position at IBM. Apparently Alan had those same thoughts as well.   IBM's loss is Socialtext's gain. I admit that, secretly, I was hoping someday eProductivity would be large enough to attract the likes of an Alan or Ed. It still is. I can think of few who had done a more exemplary job at building a sense of community around the Lotus product line.  Alan, I wish you the very best of success in all of your endeavors and I look forward to learning more about their products as I continue to read your blog.

All is not lost

Fortunately, the Lotus community still has Ed Brill to carry the torch for all things Notes and Domino and to act as our dedicated FUDBuster against attacks of misinformation. Please continue on, Ed!

What about those valuable Notes tips Alan used to share?

Alan's departure leaves a big hole in the Notes community in terms of sharing valuable insights on using Lotus Notes productively. For those of you that follow my blogs, you know that I often tip my hat to Alan's informative how-to posts. We share a common passion for helping people get Notes.  I've often considered the idea of asking Alan if I could syndicate some of his content here at Notes on Productivity to expand the reach of his blog, but he's done just fine so far without my help. As eProductivity launches this month, I plan to step up my own blogging about using Lotus Notes productively and perhaps share in the valuable service which Alan provided to the Notes community.

Alan, on behalf of many grateful Notes users around the world, thank for your service! I wish you the best of success!

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:

Michael Sampson:
eProductivity for Notes is About Ready To Go ... Eric Has a Special Offer

Chris Blatnick of Interface Matters:
eProductivity for Lotus Notes...Want To Be Way More Efficient?

Stephan Wissel:
Procrastinator Professional and (e)Productivity

Ben Poole:
Do you want to get things done?

Oliver Starr of GTD Times:
Eric Mack to Launch eProductivity: your chance to get a preview in this post

(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.

If this sounds interesting to you, read on…

Continue Reading "24-Hour Preview of eProductivity for Lotus Notes" »

Any SameTime 8.0/8.01 Experts out there?

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
I ran into an unusual problem with a client, today. If you have specific insight on connecting 8.01 Basic Notes client to 8.01 Domino running 8.0 ST Limited, please contact me. I'd love to pick your brain for a few minutes...

In summary:

I installed a Domino 8.01 Server, with Sametime Limited 8.0. (Limited is not available in 8.01)

I can successfully connect to the Sametime Limited 8.0 server from a Notes 7.03 Client - only this client works.

I am unable to connect to the Sametime Limited 8.0 server from any Notes 8.01 client or Sametime Connect client.

What's strange, is that the Notes 8.01 client or Sametime Connect that cannot connect to the Sametime 8.0 server, can successfully connect to a Sametime 7.5x server with no problem.

I've tried the Basic and Standard 8.01 clients. Same deal.


Meet me at ILUG 2008

Monday, June 2nd, 2008
I'm off to Ireland for the ILUG 2008 Conference.

Ian and I look forward to hanging out with Bruce, Ben, Ed, Alan, and many others. If you plan to attend, send me an email or find me. Ian and I will be there wearing our way cool white eProductivity logo shirts.

This year's conference promises to be a great one with many speakers and the opportunity to network with key folks in the Lotus Notes community. I'm also excited to have been invited to be one of the speed geek presenters; I plan to show off some productivity tools for Lotus Notes. 12 presentations in 1 hour. Should be fun.

Ilug 2008 Shamrock on Aer Lingus JetEach year the ILUG organizers outdo the previous year's conference. This year is no exception; as part of their marketing & promotion campaign Paul Mooney arranged for Aer Lingus to temporarily paint their entire fleet of aircraft with the ILUG Shamrock so that we would get into the ILUG spirit as soon as we took off...

It will be a fast trip but I plan to make it a productive one. If you plan to attend let me know. Time permitting, I'll also try to blog a little.

I came across the NotesBerry.org web site today when I was doing some research to help a client manage his eProductivity lists on his BlackBerry.


The site is a treasure with focused information on all things Notes and BlackBerry. I later realized that two of the brains behind this site are Bill Buchan and Jason Hook, both of whom I had recently met by way of introduction from Bruce. And, I'll get to meet these gents in person next week at ILUG. Small world.

Great site. Worth bookmarking. http://www.notesberry.org

IBM Lotus Symphony 1.0 Now Available

Friday, May 30th, 2008
The Lotus Symphony pages are buzzing with news that Symphony 1.0 is now available.


Many features of interest to me and my clients: PDF Integration built-in, integration with Notes, ODF Support, MS Word Doc support. Did I mention that Symphony is free?

You can learn more and download Symphony for free, here.

Mainsoft Anncs SharePoint access from NotesWith the widespread proliferation of SharePoint sites "under the desk" at organizations (even Notes ones) ... hey, a manager just has to buy a Windows Server box with Server 2003 and they can do Windows SharePoint Services ... it's good to see a vendor come out with a way of integrating the two worlds. Mainsoft Corporation today announced the ability to add a list of SharePoint sites to the sidebar in Notes 8.

This means end users can:
  • look at a list of Office documents stored in a SharePoint site within the Notes 8 client, and drag-and-drop those documents into a Notes email message or calendar appointment
  • check out documents in SharePoint directly from the Notes user interface
  • drag an attachment out of a Notes email or database and drop it into the appropriate SharePoint site
That's the out-of-the-box capabilities of the new "SharePoint Integrator for Lotus Notes", and for organizations that want more, Mainsoft offer a bevy of professional services to more elegantly and fully integrate the two worlds.

I look forward to reading Michael's review of this.

From time to time, clients ask me if I know if a way to Hot Sync Lotus Notes on the Mac with a Palm or Treo SmartPhone. I'm a big fan of CommonTime's mNotes or iAnywhere for synching Notes and PDAs/SmartPhones but, as far as I know, none of these products support Mac. In fact, I'm not aware of any proven sync tools for Mac and Treo. I also question the future for the Palm OS. Most exciting development is in the Windows Mobile arena, with promises from Apple with their iPhone dev kit. (I expect to know more on that this summer.)

Usually for my Mac users, I set them up with a wireless sync tool that allows them to sync directly to their Domino Server with no need for sync software at the client.  This way, they can run around with a Treo that's always in Sync and it does not matter if they are PC or Mac based - the beauty of Notes.

I'd like to ask an Notes for Mac users out there if and how they are synching their SmartPhone/PDA with Notes.

I suppose this brings up the bigger point of the need for suitable sync tools between the Mac and not just the Treo but any PDA or SmartPhone. I wonder how long it will be before a major sync tool vendor embraces the Mac to provide quality sync between Lotus Notes on the Mac and any number of mobile devices, e.g. Treo, Palm, Blackberry, etc..



This is the final post from my e-mail that answers the question: "How to ramp up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes?"  We've touched on the productivity equation and we've looked at how methodology is the first component of the equation. We also explored the technology or tools that can be used to implement GTD in Lotus Notes.  Last week, I discussed Mobility: how to get things done on the run, and two days ago, I blogged about the value I've found in getting coached and coaching others.

As I wrap up this series, I want to share some of the resources I've used to get connected  to the information and people who help me sharpen my skills.

Here's what I shared in my e-mail about some of my current favorite ways to stay connected to all things GTD:
Continue Reading "eProductivity Equation: Get Connected & Get Creative" »

What’s new with eProductivity for Notes?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008
Things have been pretty quiet on the web front with eProductivity. The web site hasn't changed from the "coming soon" banner I put up last year and eProductivity guy still needs a haircut.

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.

Otherwise, if you have signed up for the this eProductivity Newsletter, you'll be invited to a sneak preview, soon.

Today, I'll share the next part of my e-mail that answers the question: "How to ramp up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes?"  We've touched on the productivity equation and we've looked at how methodology is the first component of the equation. We also explored the technology or tools that can be used to implement GTD in Lotus Notes.  Last week, I discussed Mobility: how to get things done on the run. Now, as I begin to wrap up this series, I want to discuss the value I've found in getting coaching in how to make all of this work together.

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...

Continue Reading "eProductivity Equation: Coaching to get it right" »

Today, I'll share the next part of my e-mail that answers the question: "How to ramp up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes?"  We've touched on the productivity equation and we've looked at how methodology is the first component of the equation. We also explored the technology or tools that can be used to implement GTD in Lotus Notes.   Now, let's look at mobility...

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...

Continue Reading "eProductivity Equation: Mobility (for Notes & GTD)" »

Today, I'll share the next part of my e-mail that answers the question: "How to ramp up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes?"

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.

Continue Reading "eProductivity Equation: Technology (for Notes & GTD)" »

eProductivity Equation: Methodology

Thursday, April 10th, 2008
Today, I'd like to talk about methodology as a key component in my productivity equation and specifically how it relates to ramping up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes.

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:

Continue Reading "eProductivity Equation: Methodology" »

The eProductivity Equation: KWP = M x T x K

Thursday, April 10th, 2008
(This is the first installment in my series talking about how to ramp up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes.)

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?

Links to related posts in this discussion:
I. The eProductivity equation
II. Methodology

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?"" »

Lotus Notes for Outlook users

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
A reader of this blog asked me if I was aware of a guide to help users coming an Outlook environment learn about Notes.

I was not, so I reached out to my friend and Notes buddy, Alan Lepofsky at IBM. Alan quickly forwarded these two links:

For admins:
How to set up IBM Lotus Notes V8 for Microsoft Outlook users

For admins to support users:
developerWorks: Migration station : Lotus track

If you are aware of any other resources, I would appreciate it if you would post these as comments.


I'm pleased to announce that IdeaJam is now in public release.


What's IdeaJam?

IdeaJam is an impressive Domino web-based application that allows users to propose and vote on ideas. Currently, IdeaJam is being used to collect suggestions and feedback from Notes users all over the world for Notes/Domino software. Users get to post comments and rank proposed features until key ideas emerge from the list. I hope IBM is watching the IdeaJam team and the results of their site. It's a brilliant concept and one that will certainly help enhance the Notes/Domino product line and create even more passionate users.

I think that IdeaJam is not only a powerful tool for sharing and community, it's also one of the classiest web apps I've seen. What's more, the back-end, is equally sleek. Nice work on the part of the design team; they did not allow themselves to be constrained by conventional thinking for a Domino/Notes web app. It's simply beautiful.

I plan to deploy IdeaJam for eProductivity to allow enthusiastic eProductivity users to connect, share, and vote on features they would like to see.

Congratulations to Bruce Elgort and the IdeaJam team!  I wish you all the best of success!

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...

Continue Reading "I invite you to listen to a private eProductivity webinar" »

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.

So, I responded:
Continue Reading "People are asking Santa for eProductivity for Lotus Notes" »

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.

Doug continues...
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

Continue Reading "Is it possible to build a "trusted system" for GTD with Lotus Notes?" »

Staying productive and focused with Notes

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007
Michael Sampson and I are busy working on the session planning for our upcoming eProductivity Conference. There remains much to complete, but we are supported by a wonderful group of advisors and great technology. I thought I wold take a quick break during lunch to share how we are using Lotus Notes to collaborate synchronously and asynchronously, across the Pacific.
eProductivity Conference Planning Document Library
Michael and I are using a Lotus Notes document library that we have customized to allow us to track all of the session planning and content for the 36 sessions for the eProductivity conference. We've added some very basic workflow functionality. This allows us to flag any document as being in one of eight states:
eProductivity Conference Planning Document Workflow
This allows us to work together on content, synchronously and asynchronously - even though we are on opposite sides of the Pacific!

As we work on content I update a field in the document to change the document state to any of the above. In the background, as I work, these changes are replicated from my Windows laptop or Tablet PC in California to my primary server in Arizona and from there to Michael's Tablet PC or Mac, in New Zealand. It does not matter who's on-line, when, or what platform we choose to use. (Michael and I have a few quiet preferences about PC or Mac) After replication, each of us will see the documents that require our attention, edit and comment and flag them for review and the cycle continues back across the Pacific.

Think of it as digital volleyball.

Thanks to Lotus Notes replication, we are able to simultaneously manage hundreds of documents in various stages of completion.

Add to this, our use of MindManager and other productivity tools and we've got a neat system for information sharing and collaboration across the miles.

For me, a powerful aspect of this approach is not only the ability to compress work into a small amount of time, but the ability to break our focus down to very next actions. Between my family, graduate studies, client work, eProductivity Beta, and preparation for this conference, about the best I can do is keep my head down and focus on the simple next actions, the things I can do in one setting.

I'm grateful to have Michael's expertise as the eProductivity conference organizer. I can't imagine doing this without his help and without a cool set of tools to make distributed work easy.

Lunch is over. Time to get back to work.

"Lotus Notes/Domino is a dead product"

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
I don't think so, but that's what I was told when I visited more than one booth of vendors of KM search technology at This week's KM World conference in San Jose.  (Steve Barth and I presented a workshop on Knowledge Worker Productivity at the conference.)

I had stopped by to ask if their search technology could crawl a Notes/Domino database. At which point I was told that the company saw no value in creating an add-on for a dead product. "IBM isn't even here at KMWorld, look around - do you see them anywhere?" I didn't. (Unless they were hidden behind the Microsoft Search booth.) I also did not see them in the list of exhibitors.

I did check the conference guide to find that IBM was listed as a sponsor of the taxonomy bootcamp. OK, that's a start.  I also noticed that a presenter was doing a demo of an IBM search tool in his session. I realize that this was not a huge conference, but there are key decision makers here. Some that use Notes may be wondering to themselves if Notes is a dead product, while others, unaware of the power of Notes, will continue to be... unaware.  

During this week at the KMWorld conference I've met many people that tell me they are using Lotus Notes successfully as their collaboration and knowledge management platform. I heard this same comment more than once:
"... people at the conference are all excited about product X or that new tool or "Tool 2.0", but our organization's had [most of] these capabilities with Lotus Notes for years...."
Of course, I did meet another speaker at the banquet who asked me if Lotus Notes was still being sold and supported. He was shocked when I told him that the last IBM # of Notes users I was aware of was 140 million Notes users. (Even if I'm off by a few tens of millions of users, that's nothing to sneeze at.)

So, what's the problem? Why are there so many decision makers that attended Enterprise 2.0 and KMWorld 2007 (and many other conferences I frequent) unaware of the power of Notes?

It's clearly not a technology problem.
Many of the knowledge management professionals from the larger established companies were pleased to tell me about their Lotus Notes/Domino deployments. Many raved about Notes and more than one used my favorite expression about Notes:
"We're not getting rid of Notes in our organization; you'll have to pry Notes from our cold dead hands..."
I have many clients and I even know of several collaboration analysts who feel the same way.

Continue Reading ""Lotus Notes/Domino is a dead product"" »

I'm always looking for tools to make Notes development more productive, so earlier this year, I contacted TeamStudio and Ytria to look at their tools. Ryan Hum, of  Ytria, responded immediately and offered to assist me. Since then, we've chatted about some of the tools that Ytria offers and last week, I met with Andre Hausberger, of Ytria, to discuss their suite of developer productivity tools for Lotus Notes.  I had several interests: professionally, I evaluate tools so that I can make recommendations to my corporate and enterprise clients that do their own Notes/Domino development; for myself, I wanted to learn how these tools could save me and my team time as we continue to enhance eProductivity for Lotus Notes.

I plan to post a more thorough review of the Ytria tools, once I have had the time to really work with them and to get feedback from my developers.  Meanwhile, here are a few highlights from my conversation with Andre:

Continue Reading "Ytria Tools make Notes developers more productive" »

StackOfPapersSmall.jpg I often tell my clients, "I don't believe we will ever see the truly paperless office but I do believe that we can create a less-paper office." I'd like to share with you one way that I recently helped do this for a very special client - my wife, Kathy.

I share a lot of details in the post. For a short overview, click to the image below to watch a brief video. It's a minute and 16 seconds long and shows how the process works, If you want to learn and understand how this all works, then I encourage you to continue reading the rest of this post after  you watch the video.

Video: Kathy demonstrates her new digital filing system.

Continue Reading "Paperless Filing System in Lotus Notes in 5 Easy Steps" »

From my colleague, Robert Peake:
Define: "Centralized Meta-Referencing with Distributed Awareness"
I'll post the answer soon. I want to give folks an opportunity to figure this one out. It had me stumped for a while.


A blog reader just sent me this link to tell me that my Webinar,  MindManager as a Knowledge Management Tool: How I use MindManager and Lotus Notes to get things done, is now up for replay on the MindJet web site. Apparently, they (Mindjet/WebEx) ran into some technical difficulties and lost the last 20 minutes of audio. 20070328-MindManagerandNotesIntro.gifThat's too bad, because we covered some powerful uses of MindManager and Lotus as tools for Personal Knowledge Management. You watch the silent part can make up your own narrative. if you come up with something great, post it to you tube and send me a link!

Judging from my email, there seems to be considerable interest having me do a follow-up webinar; I'll definitely consider that for the future. If you have topics you'd like to see me cover in greater detail, please leave your comments on this blog post. I'll review these comments as ideas for possible future webinars.

Here's a link to the webinar replay.


After my successful Webinar on how I use Lotus Notes and MindManager to get things done, Peter Simoons, an IBM Executive in the Netherlands, wrote to me to point out that I was still using the Notes Workspace to manage my databases:
...I had to smile when you showed your desktop, hey Eric you are on Lotus 7.02, the desktop is so Notes 4 or maybe even earlier! According to Lotus you should be using the bookmark bar and that one can still be divided into folders for better separation of the different chapters, like you chose Tabs in the desktop. that will give you another clean desktop. I made the switch when the Bookmark bar was announced...

Peter went on to blog about this in a well-written post: Lotus Notes: Workspace or Open List...

As an eProductivity specialist, I like to think of myself as a forward thinker, so Peter's email got my attention. We exchanged a few emails and I invited Peter to a web meeting so that we could show one another how we organize our Notes databases and why we do it the way we do. Peter accepted my offer and promptly sent me an invitation to use IBM's Corporate SameTime server for the meeting. I think SameTime is a powerful tool, and I use it daily to meet with clients and colleagues. It works great. Unfortunately, while IBM makes great stuff, they apparently don't eat enough of their own dog food but that's another very recently (and still) painful story.  Given the problems I encountered, I proposed that we ditch the IBM site and use my own SameTime 7.5 server. I'm pleased to report that my SameTime Server worked like a charm and we were able to meet without any further difficulty.

A productive meeting

Yesterday, Peter showed me his Notes workspace (He's on Notes 8 beta) and how he's using the bookmark bar to organize his databases. Next, I showed him my Notes workspace and how I organize my hundreds of Lotus Notes databases across a dozen tabs. It became apparent that the primary difference in our use is that Peter has access to only a handful of Notes databases - these can easily be kept on the bookmark bar and nested in bookmark folders. On the other hand, I routinely need quick visual access to a great many Notes databases and I like to see them all at a glance. I also like to see the number of unread items and the servers that the databases are on - something that is lost when using bookmarks.
Continue Reading "The Notes workspace is so last century, or is it?" »

If you're like me, you've probably paid the price, perhaps more than once, for a missed meeting, call, or appointment. If you've been into GTD for any length of time, you know how sacred the calendar is for mapping out the hard landscape. But what if that landscape suddenly shifts?

Are you aware that a new Daylight Savings Time (DST) law that went into effect on January 1, 2007 that will affect your personal or group calendar and any PDAs or smartphones that you use?

Beginning this year, the United States and parts of Canada will extend the period covered by Daylight Savings Time.  DST will begin the second Sunday of March (three weeks earlier than before) and continue until the first Sunday in November (one week later than before).  This document refers to the weeks that are affected by the change as “extended DST weeks”.

A very real possibility exists that some calendar entries, such as meetings and appointments that have been scheduled to occur during the extended DST weeks will appear one hour later and will need to be adjusted by one hour.

Continue Reading "How will the new DST laws affect your productivity?" »

My thoughts about an Ink-enabled Lotus Notes R8

Thursday, November 30th, 2006
Ed brill and I have exchanged a few e-mails about the idea of Ink Enabling Lotus Notes for the Tablet PC. I hope that Ed will post his thoughts on his blog, so I won't steal his thunder. Meanwhile, I will share one of my emails that summarizes my thoughts on Lotus Notes for the Tablet PC and whether it is critical for IBM to address digital ink in the next release of Lotus Notes (R8).
Ed, Aside from my personal desires, I do not see this as business critical for IBM/Lotus today, but I do see a shift in what users will come to expect in the future. I agree that, in the business, market Tablets are still niche oriented and vertical market. However, the once-large price difference between a laptop and a Tablet PC form factor has diminished rapidly. As it does, more tablets will be sold and more people will expect to use their  applications with a tablet.

Continue Reading "My thoughts about an Ink-enabled Lotus Notes R8" »

In response to my earlier post, about the lack of ink-enabled business applications, Ben Poole wrote:
Here's what I don't understand:
Why should ANY application be "ink-enabled"?

Seriously. Why?
The way Microsoft have approached the Tablet PC is all wrong in this regard: ink-enabling should be an OS-level abstraction. Applications should just take advantage of what the host operating system offers, using its input managers and what-have-you. It seems crazy to me that the OS vendor is relying on application developers to push *their* technology in this way.
I'm sure MS have their reasons for tackling the Table PC like this, but I must be missing something big time...

Yes, Ben, you've missed something.

So did IBM and the Lotus Notes team.

Continue Reading "Why should ANY app (e.g. Lotus Notes) be ink-enabled?" »

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!" »

GTD + Blackberry + Lotus Notes

Monday, October 16th, 2006
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.

via: Michael Sampson

Archive Notes E-Mail with Acrobat 8

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006
Archive Lotus Notes e-mail
Convert e-mail in Lotus Notes to Adobe PDF to facilitate searching, archiving, and retrieval. (Windows only)
Details here.

I'd like to get some feedback from anyone who's tried this.

Lotus Notes Email Vs. Microsoft Outlook

Friday, September 8th, 2006
Why are people so passionate about their e-mail platform of choice? And, if they had the choice - as opposed to Management/IT choosing for them what would they choose, and why?

I can see it now...  I'm MS Outlook and I'm Lotus Notes...  I'm not trying to start another Mac vs PC type battle, but I am interested to know what people prefer and why.

Rod Boothby's asking three questions about preferences in e-mail tools, specifically, Lotus Notes Email Vs. Microsoft Outlook.
  • Do you use Notes? If so, how do you like (or hate) it?
  • Do you use Outlook? If so, same love/hate question.
  • If you got to choose, what would you have your company use? Notes? Outlook? Web mail?

Continue Reading "Lotus Notes Email Vs. Microsoft Outlook" »

Taking Notes - Why don’t people get Notes?

Thursday, September 7th, 2006
Two weeks ago, I blogged about GeekTD and David Allen's opening question: "Why don't people get Lotus Notes?"

Ed Brill of IBM quickly picked up on the discussion and Julian Robichaux joined in with Lotus Notes - Yeah, It Can Do That Too . Over one hundred comments were posted and many email were exchanged behind the scenes.  This week, I shared a recent experience and Ed continued to the discussion by blogging that Eric Mack and Julian Robichaux get the power of word-of-mouth.

Yesterday, I received a call from Bruce Elgort, inviting me to join him, Julian Robichaux and Alan Lepofsky in a discussion about using Lotus Notes productively and why some folks don't get it.

The Taking Notes podcast #31 is 27.6mb and runs 48:08 at 64kps (variable bit rate).

How to save a Lotus Notes customer

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006
This week, I met with a client that was considering scrapping Lotus Notes in favor of an alternative solution.

I told  them that I thought they should switch away from Notes. I offered to help them make a shopping list of what they would need to purchase to match their current capabilities.

Half way through helping them with the shopping list, someone said, "But our [Lotus Notes system] already does all of that."


Continue Reading "How to save a Lotus Notes customer" »

GeekTD: Why don’t people get Notes?

Thursday, August 24th, 2006
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.

20060818 - DAC GeekTD Recording Adventure with David in Ojai.jpg

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.)

Continue Reading "GeekTD: Why don't people get Notes?" »

GTD and Notes Document Beta

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006
My colleague, Kelly Forrister is recruiting beta testers for a new GTD and Notes document.  
I'm looking for a few people to beta test a document on implementing GTD with Lotus Notes. It's a great tool, following in the footsteps of our whitepapers for Outlook and Entourage.
Details here.

I'm often asked how I work on the road and what tools I use to stay in sync, both for myself and for my clients. Here's a very brief summary of a recent project; I've made sure to provide links to previous blog posts and to manufacturer's sites so that you can explore these on your own. I hope you find this information helpful. (You may want to follow each link)

Two weeks ago, I helped move David Allen from his old Palm to a Treo 700p. I used mNotes, by Commontime to keep David's 700p in sync with the Lotus Notes applications we use at The David Allen Company. mNotes is a tool that allows for bidirectional synchronization of PIM apps (e-Mail, Calendar, Tasks, Address book and Memos) between Lotus Notes and mobile devices, like the Treo 700p. Over the years, I've worked with and deployed many wireless sync applications, including mNotes and Pylon Pro/iAnywhere. I like both products, and I've blogged favorably about both. Personally, I use mNotes for PIM apps, due to their rich feature set, and I will use the Pylon Application server to extend non-PIM Notes applications (e.g. custom Notes databases) to my Treo.

Continue Reading "Increased mobility with a Treo and mNotes" »

I decided to pull the plug on ICA-CORP today. What is remarkable is that this server has been running almost 24x7 for 11 years!

Continue Reading "Notes (Domino) server retired, after 11 years" »

Using MindManager as a Dashboard for Lotus Notes

Thursday, December 15th, 2005
The power of mind maps as a visual planning tool is undisputed. MindManager brings that power to the personal computer. Lotus Notes is a tool long-used by highly productive organizations for managing their communication, collaboration, and coordination of information-related activities. Hmmm. Can you tell where I'm going with this post?

Here's a screenmovie of my test mind map with embedded Notes

Notes Doclinks in MindMaps bring together two powerful tools for information management:

One of the Lotus Notes productivity features that I use regularly is doclinks. In Lotus Notes, a doclink can be created to jump to a Notes document,  database,or view. The ability to embed these doclinks in my project and action lists gives me a quick and easy way to link to all of my support material regardless of where they are located. The beauty of Notes Doclinks is that the Notes client will locate the target regardless of whether it is located on the local machine or a remote server.

Continue Reading "Using MindManager as a Dashboard for Lotus Notes" »

Stepping back to jump forward

Monday, December 12th, 2005
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.

Continue Reading "Stepping back to jump forward" »

New mNotes version 4.x looks good

Saturday, October 15th, 2005
I decided to re-evaluate the latest release of mNotes; I wanted to compare it to Pylon iAnywhere. I'm not ready to post a review, but I can say that the folks at Commontime have been busy. One thing I like about the mNotes product is that a license is per-user, regardless of the type of PDA, how many simultaneous PDAs are synched and regardless of whether you sync by USB, Bluetooth, or wireless. In fact, the server's the same for all three. The program is tightly integrated with Notes, too. The e-mail support Notes rich, including full bidirectional support for folders, which means that you can process your mail on your PDA. Handle it once; sweet. If you're looking for a sync solution between Notes and your PDA, mNotes is certainly an option to consider. Link: Commontime.

X1/MSN Search MindManager & Lotus Notes?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005
I'm still waiting for X1 to add MindManager search capability to their product. I've been testing their Lotus Notes Support for many weeks. The Notes support is OK, but not quite ready for prime time, IMHO. And, they have yet to implement the list of fixes and required features that I sent them.

I've pitched the idea of adding MindManager support to execs at both companies. The folks at MindManager have indicated that they are willing to play. I hope that the folks at X1 decide to play, too; I think MindManager support in X1 would be a powerful addition to their product.

For now, X1's still on my "must watch, but wait and see" list.

Meanwhile, the new Desktop search toolbar from Microsoft apparently allows plug-ins. And, there's a plugin for Mindmanager!  (ComputerWorld | add-in)

A while back, I blogged about how my ideal desktop search tool would include support for both MindManager and Lotus Notes. I wonder if we'll see a MSN Search toolbar add-in filter for Lotus Notes?

If they did, I might switch gto MSN. My clients might, too.

Wishful thinking?

Notes client for Linux?

Monday, May 16th, 2005
Earlier this year, Robert Peake (a client and colleague of mine at The David Allen Company) shared his thoughts on a Notes Client for Linux.

I particularly liked his idea of a diskless workstation, booting Knoppix and a Notes client.
Imagine hundreds of diskless Linux workstations booting into the equivalent of Linux Terminal Server or Knoppix for Domino. In fact, many different types of workers could handle all of their day-to-day tasks in this environment with substantial savings not only on the overhead of operating system licenses, but everything that goes with a complex user environment -- like viruses, malware, and (worst of all) the myriad of operator errors that go with giving users too much latitude.
Back in the early 90's the entire ICA network on diskless workstations, booting DOS and Win 3.1 across ArcNet. The workstations in the offices as well as those at my home (up the street, connected via WaveLan) were all diskless.

Worked great! I could upgrade the entire network in a manner of minutes. Of course, our reasons at the time weren't security or convenience as much as it was the high cost of disk storage. Once we got used to how applications behaved in a diskless environment, it worked quite well.

Robert's makes a good point. I'd like to see it happen.

Notes Touchgraphs

Wednesday, April 13th, 2005
Take a look at what Alan Bell has done with Notes and Touchgraphs. This is precisely this kind of integration that I hope to achieve with Notes and MindManager.

Nice work, Alan!

From my RSS Comments feed.

X1 grants a wish

Friday, March 4th, 2005
I routinely use two tools for knowledge management: Lotus Notes and Mind Manager. I have long wished for a single integrated solution to search desktop documents, Notes databases, and MindManager maps. Well, it looks like at least one of these wishes will be granted soon.

The makers of the X1 Desktop search tool are preparing to add support for Lotus Notes databases. For the past week, I have been evaluating a beta release (I'm using ver. 5.1 Beta Rel 2, Build 1616zq) of the next generation of the X1 desktop search tool.  I'm really excited about the ability to use a single search tool to search Lotus Notes databases in addition to the documents on my local disk drive.  Right now, the search functionality is limited to mail databases, but I'm told that there are plans to add support for any Notes database. When that happens, it will represent a significant productivity boost for users of Lotus Notes.

One of the strong features of X1 is their support for a variety of document types; they have extended this functionality to searching text information stored within Notes as well.  So far, my testing has gone reasonably well; well enough to continue working with the product. Currently, there is no indication in the returned search results display which database the result came from, however, the basic mail folders are shown.

I would really like to see support for multiple databases
-- at least email, discussion, and doclib. I've worked out a way that this could be done. Hopefully, they have, too.

All in all, it's been a good experience so far and I plan to continue working with the product as it matures.

And my other wishes?  I've spoken with one of the representatives from X1 who assured me that he would post a link to my wishes on the X1 forum.

We'll see what happens.

If you are unfamiliar with X1, I recommend that you check out Marc Orchant's reviews of the product. Posted with permission from the folks at X1.

Should we really use the delegated task feature to delegate actions to others?

While many people are usually excited to learn that their action management system will allow them to delegate actions to someone else, I find that many who have actually worked with such a system do not often share the same enthusiasm.

I usually recommend that my clients avoid using the task delegation feature of their action management system-- at least until I can confirm that everyone is on the same page in terms of how they will use it.
In order for delegated tasks to work, a high level of trust and an "action delegation protocol" must exist between all parties.
The person doing the delegating needs to trust that when he delegates something to another, it will be seen and actually treated as an action by the assignee. Likewise, the person who receives the delegated action must have a way to become aware of, internalize, and "accept" the action as their own. Successful delegation requires trust and commitment. If either is not present (as is often the case) then delegated tasks won't work.

This is not a new problem, it's as old as paper, at least. Technology has just made it easier to quickly dispatch a barrage of computer-delegated actions to unsuspecting (and possibly unwilling) people.

Delegated tasks create a situation in which the technology of productivity is likely to clash with the methodology of productivity.

The technology allows for tasks to be created and assigned to other individuals; however, without a sound methodology  and clear agreement on how these will be processed, (the action delegation protocol), it can quickly become a recipe for lost or missed actions, frustration, and incompletion.
I recommend that my clients use David Allen's GTD methodology. In of my years of consulting on technology, I've not found a better system for thinking about your work than GTD. In his book, Getting Things Done, David emphasizes the importance of accountability in all aspects of delegating and accepting actions; he also makes it clear that the system used to track actions - be it paper or digital - must be absolutely leak-proof. These are two areas where delegated actions, if not used properly, can fall apart as a tool for organizational action management.

Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, and even my eProductivity software all allow for tasks to be delegated to others simply by selecting the assignee from a directory. The beauty of this - at least from the perspective of the one doing the delegating - is that it is easy to create a project and then delegate actions to others.

One of my first action management systems, which I designed for the US Navy, did just this. The manager could initiate a project and then define and delegate specific actions to others in succession. Next actions could be queued so that as one action was completed the next would be delegated out in sequence. The system was a success, but I suspect that a large measure of this success was because the actions were effectively "orders" on the part of the manager and it was clearly understood that they were to be followed as assigned. The trust and protocol that I mentioned earlier were part of the environment. In a closed-system, with a clear chain of command, action management can, and indeed in some cases must work this way. That was almost 20 years ago. Today, a person is as likely to collaborate with someone in their own office as they are with someone  around the world. The relationship is less likely to be superior/subordinate, as with my Navy client, and more likely to be peer to peer. In this situation trust and protocol are essential.

The benefits of a delegated-tasks system can be significant. For the one doing the delegating, as tasks are entered into the system, they can delegate an action to someone else simply by indicating their name in the "assigned to" field. They can also can provide optional information such as a due date, status and alert notification request.

Outlook task delegation fields:

Image:Delegated Tasks for Group Action Management

Lotus Notes task delegation fields:

Image:Delegated Tasks for Group Action Management
Image:Delegated Tasks for Group Action Management

For the assignee, they do not have to enter anything into their action tracking system - it's all done for them. Depending upon how their system is configured, they may have the ability to accept or reject assigned tasks first or the new tasks may simply appear on their to do list. Both Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes will display a list of delegated tasks, the responsible party, due date, and status.  For these reasons it is often quite tempting to use delegated tasks in the hopes of having a system of "total control and accountability."

Key things to consider when using delegated tasks:

1. Discuss delegated actions with your collaboration partners:

Will you use computer-delegated tasks at all? Will you allow others to add actions directly to your action support lists (risky) or will you use the propose/accept model (better) for delegated actions? What kind of feedback will be exchanged about the actions? What should be done when changes are required on either side?

2. Make sure that you understand how delegated tasks work:

Who "owns" the task? Will your system automatically place an action item on the assignee's to do list? How will they become aware of the new action? Do they have to accept it to make it their own? What is the process for delegating a task to someone and what happens when you (or they) cancel or change a task? Can a delegated task be delegated to someone else? How will you track these delegated items?

3. Make sure that everyone else understands this as well:

Simply having good technology in place will not necessarily make a team more productive. Sometimes it even leads to just the opposite. It is important, therefore, to have procedures and protocols in place for putting technology to work. My clients have found that training and coaching can make a big difference in the productive benefits they receive from their technology investment.

4. Have everyone practice delegating/accepting/declining actions:

Practice, practice, practice. As I've said before, in order for delegated actions to work at all, there must be a high level of trust - not only among the people but in their support systems as well.

Are delegated tasks simply a bad idea?

I don't think so, but I do think they can be very dangerous if not used properly. When used correctly, by a group of people, who have agreed upon a specific task delegation protocol, delegated tasks can be a powerful productivity tool. Unfortunately, more often than not, this agreement is not in place, and for this group of people, computer delegated-tasks can quickly lead to a lack of trust in systems and turn into a digital nightmare.

As I show clients how to use technology in support of the GTD methodology I find that few are really ready or need to use delegated actions. I usually coach these people to avoid using computer delegated actions and to use traditional  means, such as e-mail, phone or even paper as a way of exchanging information about tasks without entering actions directly into someone else' system. This way, each party can internalize the next action and their commitment to it, placing it on their own list as appropriate.

Is your organization using computer-delegated tasks? If so, how has it worked (or not worked) out?

I would like to hear about your experience.

Please post a comment (or send me an email) and let me know what you think!

This blog post is a transcript from last week's podcast on delegated tasks management.

Note:  For purposes of this discussion, when I refer to delegated tasks, I am specifically referring to the ability to create a task (an action) in a digital system such as Outlook or Lotus Notes, and to assign it to another individual, so that it will automatically end up on their action list.  

(c) Eric Mack 2005

Delegated action management in Notes/Outlook

Sunday, February 20th, 2005
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 colleague of mine,  who now works at a large nationwide mortgage banking company, was telling me how difficult it has become, as an enterprise customer, to get evaluations or even product information on some new products from some companies. From his post today:

Why don't other companies like IBM do things like this? For instance, the company I work for wanted replace our custom built employee portal and asked several companies for help testing their products. When the person in charge told Microsoft that they'd like to try Sharepoint, Microsoft said, "sure, we'll send out two people to help you set it up." However when IBM was approached we were told that it would take three months to setup Websphere Portal Server and cost us a million dollars! All we wanted was a proof of concept so that we could make an informed decision!

Unfortunately, I've seen this as well. At the same time, clients tell me that Microsoft has been very aggressive at not only providing software but evaluation support for their products. I say, good for Microsoft. Perhaps this is one reason the boss loves Microsoft.  (FWIW: The enterprise customers I'm thinking of are currently Notes shops; one would think this problem would not exist for them. Apparently not so.)

I am increasingly amazed at how difficult some businesses are making it for customers to
give them money.  The only reason I'm bothering to blog about this is that it was not always this way.

I remember in the "old" days, when I used to design and deploy enterprise messaging systems. I could call up cc:Mail in Mountainview, speak to a real person, (who spoke English that I could understand), explain that I had a corporate client that wanted to evaluate a product, and have a box of software sent to us overnight. I used to be able to do the same for my consulting firm. As a result, we made many successful product demonstrations and enterprise messaging deployments for clients across the United States. These generated a significant number of enterprise sales for cc:Mail/Lotus/IBM. Things changed a bit when Lotus bought cc:Mail, but we could still call Lotus in Cambridge, talk to someone who spoke English (sometimes with a Boston accent), and have cc;Mail, Notes, or the various add-ins sent to us to demo to our clients. Since IBM purchased Lotus, my clients and I have found the experience has been much different.  That's too bad.  I know that there are many people at IBM who work very hard to make sure that the IBM Notes product is well represented to corporate customers. Probably the best example is Ed Brill, who works tirelessly to educate customers about IBM products and services. (Thank you, Ed!) Unfortunately for IBM, there's only one Ed Brill.

I'm not trying to play favorites between IBM and Microsoft here. I recommend and support products from both vendors - when I feel that they are a good match for my customer's needs. What I am trying to do is make a point.

I believe that software companies should consider the lost opportunity when a technology consultant or enterprise IT manager calls to ask to evaluate a product and they make it difficult for him to do so. How much does it cost to send out a product or email a link for a consultant or potential customer to evaluate?
Sometimes, the eagerness of making the sale combined with the formality of the sales "qualification" process can get in the way of developing an internal champion for the product. When that happens, it's a lost opportunity for both client and vendor (and sometimes, the consultant, too).

All of this won't prevent me from recommending or championing great products that I feel are a fit for my client's needs. It does make it much more difficult for me to show clients the products that I feel would be of benefit to them. Further, with some vendors becoming more aggressive in their pro-active marketing and customer support, I find that some enterprise customers now feel that "certain" software companies just don't care. As a result, they may make product purchasing decisions for reasons other than product suitability, quality, scalability, enterprise support, etc.. (Those end up being the most costly decisions for everyone.)

I recently helped a client evaluate an enterprise wireless solution. I sent the same letter to several vendors, introducing myself and asking to evaluate their products on behalf of my client. Only one company made it easy for me to do so. Guess which one got my client's business?

What do you think? What kind of experiences have you had trying to evaluate enterprise-class software products?

Managing the flood of e-mail

Wednesday, January 19th, 2005
Looking back: Just 10 years ago, I took MailScout, our server-based rules package for cc:Mail and Lotus Notes, to exhibit at Lotusphere. Back then, spam was a small percentage of the total email received and many people felt that 25 - 40 emails was a high volume of email to receive in one day. MailScout helped people manage this "flood" of email.

One of the many success stories to come from our effort was an award of a single contract to deploy 80,000 seats of our productivity software for a single enterprise client. MailScout changed the way that productive people around the world managed their email, and I'm amazed to see that 10 years later, no one has quite matched some of the features in our original product.

Lotus Notes was rapidly growing in popularity in the enterprise messaging arena while the future of cc:Mail was uncertain in many customer's minds. We wanted to be ready for anything so we decided to play both sides of the fence by handing out thousands of buttons so that people could show their loyalty to either platform. (See photos)

Image:Managing the flood of e-mail

The buttons were a huge hit, and people came to our booth in droves. Once there, the Peloria team of myself, Bailey Williams, Jennifer Jackman, and Tanny O'Haley provided information about our product and offered demonstrations.

Image:Managing the flood of e-mail
The Peloria Technology Corporation team

(That's me, next to the guy who forgot to wear his binoculars.)

Lotusphere was a big step (and investment) for our tiny little software company, part of an amazing adventure, one which I will never forget. I'm thankful for the dedicated team (Bailey, Michael, Tanny, Jennifer, Linda, Jonathan, and Jenny, to name a few...) along with the investors who helped grow the company. (I eventually sold my interest in the company and moved on, resigning as CTO to pursue personal projects. Sadly, a few years later, Peloria became a casualty of the dot.com era.)

Looking forward:
Today, 25-40 emails in a day is considered just a trickle, while flood status from some executives looks more like 250-400 emails in a day. I continue to work on innovative ways to show people new ways of getting things done using technology to enhance their personal and group productivity. Plans are in the works to attend Lotusphere next year to showcase several new eProductivity products and services.

To my friends and associates who will be attending Lotusphere this year, I wish you the best, safe travels, and an exciting time. It could be a big step for you as it was for me.

Do you have an interesting story to share about MailScout? If so, send me an e-mail with your story and I'll send you a button. I only have 5 left!

Treo 650 Update #1

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004
Last night, I configured my new TREO 650 with the beta release of PdaNet so that I could evaluate it as a wireless modem for my IBM ThinkPad.  I was very pleased with the results. I was able to surf the web, replicate my Lotus Notes databases, connect to my server via PC Anywhere, and use instant messaging. The speed tests report throughput between 100k and 140k, which is satisfactory for these applications. I was able to do this quickly and easily, using the USB cable. I also tested this via Bluetooth. Bluetooth worked the first time, however, I could not get it to work again. (I understand that the software is still in beta.) In all, I'm quite pleased.

Another busy week ahead. I've just returned from my daughter's second robotics competition. I'll wait for them to post their blog entries before I share how the event went.  (hint: it was amazing)

Coming soon, I'll be sharing the results of my evaluations of a few on-board productivity tools that I am using with my Treo 650.

UPS delivered a shiny new TREO 650 SmartPhone today. My plan is to fully integrate the TREO 650 with Lotus Notes for a variety of eProductivity.NET applications using Pylon iAnywhere to mobilize them. I've done quite a bit of integration using Pylon products over the years, and I highly recommend them.

Lately, I have been looking into a product called mNotes by CommonTime. The mNotes product is similar to iAnywhere in many ways, however, it has a few features not found in the Pylon product that are of interest to several of my corporate customers. These include: support for multiple calendars, multiple To-Do lists, multiple email users, and on-device folder support. This last feature will apparently allow for the filing of messages on the device and to have those changes replicated to Lotus Notes wirelessly. I'll let you know how the evaluation it works out.

My primary reason for choosing the TREO 650 and the SprintPCS network is their $15 PCSVision plan with unlimited internet. Thanks to the Sprint PCS network, I can replicate data between the TREO and Lotus Notes. When changes happen at the desktop or on the device, they will be immediately replicated to the other location.  Earlier this year, I deployed this system for a client using Pylon iAnywhere and I was very pleased with the results. On the unified messaging front, I've been using and recommending Remark! Unified Messaging for the past 8 years; my next project will be to look for ways to integrate the TREO and RUMA.

BTW: The SprintPCS activation process, while mostly smooth, left something to be desired. After entering all of my data on my touch-tone keypad, I was connected over a mediocre quality VOIP connection to Ray, in the Philippines. (I sure hope Sprint's PCS voice quality is better than their customer service voice quality). Of course, I had to give Ray all of the same info that I typed in when I placed the call -- the same information I had to provide when I placed the order. So much for integrated ordering. :-(  20 minutes later, after sharing all of the information that you are not supposed to give to strangers over the phone, I was assigned a temporary mobile phone #.  As for the famous $150 rebate, the rep told me that it would take between 4 and 12 months to get  the rebate and that I would have to initiate it after 4 months. I wonder if I'll see that $ again.

There is no wireless coverage up here in the mountains where I live, so I'll have to wait until I drive down to the city to see how it really works.

Best wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for.


ActiveWords and eProductivity

Thursday, November 4th, 2004
Buzz Bruggeman, president and chief evangelist at ActiveWords, called me this morning to show me how he is integrating ActiveWords with Palm desktop. I mentioned my eProductivity Template for Lotus Notes, and how I planned to add hot key control to all of the unique features of my template for an enterprise customer. Buzz quickly showed me just what I needed to know to use ActiveWords to create powerful shortcuts that integrate with Lotus Notes and my eProductivity template.

I can now quickly create a new action item from anywhere -- even outside of Notes. A simple hot key will automatically launch Notes and open a new action form. I've even set it up to automatically populate the date & time for me so that all I have to do is enter my next action, select my context, and save. (See screen shot)

Image:ActiveWords and eProductivity                    

To take things to the next level, I created a hot key that will allow me to select an email and convert it into an action in one step. Cool.

I've blogged about  ActiveWords  before, and I remain enthusiastic about the product.  Not since Actioneer came out with Actioneer Pro for Lotus Notes 4.0, have I seen such a powerful shortcut tool that I can use to quickly capture my actions. I've recently enhanced my eProductivity template to support Notes R6 for an enterprise customer. ActiveWords will help add further value to the template.

For those of you who are interested, I plan to share my ActiveWords wordbases so that anyone who uses Lotus Notes can enjoy them and enhance them to suit their own needs.

Thanks, Buzz!

Treo 650 and Pylon iAnywhere

Monday, October 25th, 2004
I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Treo 650, from PalmOne. The TREO is an ideal match for my Pylon iAnywhere server,  which allows me to keep my Lotus Notes E-Mail, Contacts, and other databases in sync with my mobile devices. While I probably won't send too many e-mails from my phone, I love the idea of having my Lotus Notes databases replicated to my handheld so that I can access all of my information in one place. (See my previous thoughts on this topic.) I should point out that the Pylon iAnywhere server is device independent, so I can (and will) keep profiles for multiple devices (e.g. Tungsten C, Treo 650, Pocket PC) and then just pick and take whichever device most suitable for my needs or happens to be closest at hand.

Back to the real story: Palm Infocenter is reporting the announcement of the Treo 650 SmartPhone; Treo central has a hands-on review of the unit, as well. Wondering about price? Treo central has some information on that, too. The Treo 650 looks like a good unit, I'm ready to buy two, and to encourage my clients to do the same.

Sprint has just announced service for the Treo 650 on their network and I am sure that other carriers will be quick to follow suit. There seems to be some concern about whether (or not) the Sprint offering will allow the Treo 650 to be used as a wireless laptop modem.  The current buzz is no. If that's the case, I'll be moving to AT&T's Edge network. I have faith in our competitive economic system; I know that other alternatives will emerge soon.

For me, I'm immersed in a few key client projects, so the blogging will be light. Big plans in the works for eProductivity.NET, but those will have to wait another month or so, until I complete some of my present commitments.

Grateful for Notes and Ghosts

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004
Last week, my laptop hard drive crashed; I mean it really crashed. Somehow, while working at a client's crowded desk, I managed to get my foot caught in the power cord. As I got up from the desk and walked away, I not only pulled my laptop onto the concrete floor, I accelerated its descent. It was powered on - at least until it hit the floor ...  The hard drive was destroyed, and the laptop is only slightly better.

You can learn from my misfortune and from my preplanning for disaster.

Disasters such as this never seem to happen when I have free days on my calendar. My busy schedule made recovery more challenging. Fortunately, the night before, I had made a backup of my documents, and just a few months ago, I had made a routine Ghost (I use Symantec Ghost 2003) of my entire laptop drive to a spare hard drive. Since I use Lotus Notes, which is constantly replicating with the server, I did not lose a single email or document. I was able to take Kathy's laptop, login, and continue working. It took me about a week to find the time to restore my Ghost and backup to a spare laptop and to reinstall the programs that I had added since my last Ghost. Even though it was an inconvenience not to have immediate access to my files (those, not stored in Notes), it was comforting to know that I had them. Further, because I used Ghost, rather than just a file backup, I did not have to reload my system from scratch.

Lessons affirmed:
  • The time I spend Ghosting my laptop to a spare drive  is time well invested. I plan to do this more often.
  • It was very helpful to have my key documents stored in my Notes Document libraries.
  • Having Notes to replicate every 15 minutes is definitely worth it.

Next actions:
  • I plan to make Notes my file store; I will look into products like SWING or Notes 6.x tools to accomplish this.
  • I plan to look into a directory replication  solution, so that I can keep files that are not in Notes synchronized between my laptop and my server.
  • I will check out the latest Veritas remote (WAN) backup solutions for laptops.
  • I plan to purchase a third spare hard drive, make a ghost of my system, and keep it with me for instant recovery.

Do you have a current backup and Ghost image of your hard drive?

How quickly can you recover from a drive failure?

If you would like to share your $.02, please post a comment.

PS. I have several blog entries in the queue. As soon as I get caught up, I'll proof and publish them.

Many corporations spend millions of dollars, purchasing and implementing new technologies, hoping to become more productive, while their current systems remain largely underutilized. When organizations deny themselves the productive benefits of technology that they already own, they are wasting their investment and their employees' time. For organizations that use Lotus Notes, there is no excuse. Much of what they need to be productive is already built-in or can be easily customized.

The inspiration for this post came from yesterday's rant in the David Allen Getting Things Done Forum, entitled: Corporations, technology and ROI, they just don't get it!

I provide eProductivity consulting and seminars to companies who want to get more from their investment in technology. Many of these companies already happen to use Lotus Notes, which in my opinion, is currently one of the most powerful tools for information management available. Some of these companies equip their people with the tools and training to use Notes productively, and they achieve a significant return on their investment. Others use Notes for little more than e-mail and perhaps a calendar. It is to this latter group that this essay is addressed.

There is a big difference between companies that really use technology to achieve productive results and those that just talk about it.
That difference is a willingness to invest in training and services to help them fully utilize their technology investment.

For those companies that currently use Lotus Notes, two powerful capabilities (among many) that they already have are the ability to customize Notes and the ability to replicate changes across an entire workgroup or organization with ease.

An organization can customize their databases to better support their needs by adding custom fields, workflow, agents, and a host of other capabilities. Over the years, I have helped many companies increase their productivity by showing them how to customize Lotus Notes for their needs. I have packaged many of the things that I have learned about productivity into my eProductivity template for Lotus Notes. For those of you who are familiar with the GTD methodology, here's a link to the steps that I use to implement GTD in Lotus Notes.

For my work, I took the standard Notes mail template and added several powerful enhancements to support the way that I manage my information, communications, and actions. Using my eProductivity template and methods for Lotus Notes, it is possible for anyone to easily save five, fifteen, or even up to sixty minutes each day. (Now that's ROI!) This template does not actually change any of the underlying data, only the way that the information is presented and managed. This way, compatibity is maintained with the other Notes applications that I use, including wireless e-mail on my Palm. The neat thing is that these templates can be quickly and automatically deployed, whether to a workgroup of 10 or an organization of 200,000. In a similar manner, templates can be replaced or updated just as easily. The great part about all of this is that the driving technology -- Lotus Notes -- is already sitting on millions of desktops.

The undoing of Lotus Notes usually happens from within.

Sadly, a problem that I frequently encounter is sabotage; many of the same organizations that had the vision and foresight to invest in Lotus Notes to help their people become productive, sabotage its potential productive benefits. They do this, either by poor implementation, lack of training, or refusal to consider use or deploy custom templates. Many organizations do not even train their people to use the built-in features of Lotus Notes effectively. As a result, many people never venture beyond the obvious features, using Notes for little else than e-mail and calendar.

(This problem, by the way, is not unique to companies that use Notes; I encounter the same problems with organizations that have deployed Microsoft Outlook or other productivity applications. They sabotage their deployments in the same way and the potential benefits are limited.)

Now, I understand the reason that some organizations lock down their systems: they want to prevent users from making changes and creating an extra burden for IT support. At the same time, the decision to prevent users from customizing their desktops should not translate into a policy of refusing to consider any customization or template changes that have the potential to bring significant value to the company.

Refusal to equip or allow employees to fully use Lotus Notes is not much different than prohibiting employees from creating their own spreadsheets in Excel or using macros in Word. In either case, the productive potential is wasted.

The battle for increased productivity is often lost at the desktop.

I recently consulted for a large organization that had an established policy of archiving everything in employee mail databases after 60 days. The problem I have with the way that they had implemented this is that tasks and appointments disappear after 60 days. (This is not a problem with Notes - just the way they chose to implement it.) As you can imagine, the employees do not trust their systems. The result: many do not use Notes for anything but email, and the potential for productive gain and significant ROI is lost.

If I could convince companies of one thing as a result of reading this post, it would be this: Lotus Notes is a powerful productivity tool, and there are many simple things that can be done to equip people to effectively use Lotus Notes to manage their information, communication, and action.

An organization's investment in Lotus Notes is often considerable, yet many achieve a return many times their investment. The difference between those companies that realize a significant return on their Lotus Notes investment and those that do not is usually how they use it.

I started writing this essay because I was frustrated by the large number of people that tell me that they want to become more productive in the way that they use Lotus Notes, yet their organizations will not provide training, approve the use of any third-party templates, or even allow them to customize their Notes preferences.

It seems contradictory to to me, for an organization to invest in a powerful information tool like Lotus Notes and then tie the hands of the people who stand to benefit the most.

If this sounds like your organization, please be sure to forward this essay to the people who make these decisions --  I'd like to get their reaction. Meanwhile, if you have a viewpoint, I would like to hear from you. Click on Add/Read comments (below) to share your thoughts.

5 Steps to GTD in Notes

Thursday, June 24th, 2004
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.  

My response: Five steps to implementing GTD within Lotus Notes

Pylon Anywhere

Thursday, May 6th, 2004
One of the neat things about being an eProductivity specialist, is that I have the opportunity to research, test, and deploy a variety of new technologies for my clients. Before I recommend any technology to a client, I work with it in-house. If, after a few weeks, I'm still enamored by the solution, then it will find its way into a recommendation for a client.

One technology that I have used over the years is a product called Pylon Pro, which allows me to publish Notes databases to a Palm or Pocket PC device. I've been helping my clients to deploy the Pylon desktop solution for many years (since the 1.0 release), when it was first developed by a small company called Globalware.  Now, after several acquisitions, Pylon seems to have found a home and an outstanding support team as part of the iAnywhere family of solutions, from Sybase. The neat thing is that Sybase did not just add Pylon to their existing family of solutions and park it there. No, they have continued to develop, extend, and refine the Pylon technology into their suite of M-Business products.

Image:Pylon Anywhere

I am most excited about two products: Pylon iAnywhere -- a server-based tool to extend PIM information from Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange to any number of handheld devices (Palm, SmartPhones, PocketPC, etc.), and the Pylon Application Server, an M-Business solution that allows me to extend the reach of Notes/SQL/ODBC databases to a mobile workforce.

This means that my clients can now take the same databases that they have on their desktops with them on their PDA or SmartPhones. Changes made in one location are immediately reflected in the other.

This takes mobile computing to a whole new level, as I'm now able to quickly design and deploy eProductivity applications for my clients which can be used anytime, anywhere.  

This morning, I received a call from Gabe Stanek, a systems consultant from iAnywhere Solutions. Gabe gave me a private tour of the new Pylon Apps Server 6.0, which delivers client-side processing to their existing product. This means that I can now deploy mobile applications that will do onboard look-ups, validations, and updates to records as they are edited on the device. My enterprise clients will be quite excited to learn about this!  I can now deploy a database as a mobile application with client-side logic -- something that used to take days or weeks of development -- in just a few hours . Nice work iAnywhere team!

I'll have much more to share about this and other productivity enhancing technologies, when I launch my eProductivity.NET blog site.

eProductivity Seminar in Chicago

Thursday, April 22nd, 2004
I've just returned from Chicago, where I delivered a private Lotus Notes eProductivity seminar for an enterprise client with over 100,000 Notes users. Illinois is very green and quite beautiful this time of year; the campus and facilities at Northern Illinois University, where I gave my presentation, were equally beautiful. The audience was great and became quickly engaged when I told them that I would show them things that they could do right away with Lotus Notes to increase their productivity and save 10-15 minutes (or more) each day.

Image:eProductivity Seminar in Chicago

For three hours, I demonstrated how the power of Lotus Notes can be harnessed to transform the way that an organization works.  I provided specific examples of some of the ways that effective organizations are using Lotus Notes today to stay connected and to even to pull ahead in this changing economy.  I was able to show some simple steps that anyone can take to use Notes for maximum effectiveness: categories as contexts, the secrets to processing e-mail efficiently, and how to quickly customize their Notes desktop Welcome Page to get away from the tyranny of e-mail and to focus on their defined actions.  

Of course, talking about this only fueled my enthusiasm and passion for sharing what I do, as you can see below.

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Everyone left with a new way to look at how they can use Lotus Notes to more effectively organize and manage their information, communications, and actions.

One of the people in the audience was Ed Brill, IBM's Senior Manager of Messaging and Collaboration. It was fun for me to know that Ed was able to see not only what I do for my clients to help them benefit from Lotus Notes, but also how a large, forward-thinking enterprise  is working to equip its people for action and to get the most benefit from its  Lotus Notes investment .   I'm not sure whether this was a good thing or not but it seems that while I was speaking, Ed was busy taking notes on his laptop and updating his blog in real-time:
"Eric's methodology on how to increase productivity is compelling.  I don't want to give away his trade secrets here, but it seems like he's got a great way of applying David Allen's Getting Things Done methods, plus of course his own insights, within the capabilities of Notes."
- Ed Brill, April 20, 2004, www.edbrill.com
I was surprised to leave the presentation to a message from a friend "did you see what Ed just wrote about you?" Thanks Ed, for your kind words. It was nice to meet you. I'm a little embarrassed that it took me two days to update my own blog.

Speaking of weblogs, many people approached me after the seminar to ask if I was planning to share more of my best-practices of how to set up Lotus Notes for maximum efficiency. Good question. That's exactly the focus of the eProductivity.NET site, which I hope make live in the next few months.

While the presentation was exhilarating, and I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people, nothing can surpass the joy I felt as I exited my American Airlines flight at Burbank airport to find my sweetheart of a wife and four beautiful daughters, waiting for me with open arms and a "welcome home daddy" sign.  These special ladies are the reason that I do everything that I do.

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Lotus Notes for Action Management?

Monday, April 12th, 2004
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!