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.

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.

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 decided to offer a series of free 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. I'll share how I use these tools and I'll provide the opportunity for people to ask questions. I'll have a drawing for a few software licenses to attendees and I'll even do a drawing for two free eProductivity Jumpstart coaching sessions as a thank you for people who help spread the news about the event. (See below)

You can learn more over on the Notes On Productivity Blog.

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 pointing folks to my Notes On Productivity Blog. I'll be using that site to post updates and then direct people to other resources as appropriate.



From the The Notes on Productivity Blog:
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...

Link: User Satisfaction with Lotus Notes Mail & Tasks

DCLUGLogo.pngNext week, I will take a break from the KMWORLD conference in Washington DC to speak to the DC Lotus User's group.

If you're in the DC area and use Lotus Notes, I hope you'll plan to attend. Meeting details available here.

When November 17, 2010 at 3:00 PM EST
Where IBM Offices
600 14th Street NW
Room 356
Washington, DC 20005


NOTE: You must RSVP by Monday morning, Nov 15th, because of IBM's building security requirements. Sorry for the short notice but our IBM hosts just relocated their offices.

IBM's Kevin Cavanaugh and Ed Brill work tirelessly, year after year, decade after decade, to develop and promote a key pillar of the IBM suite of offerings - the LOTUS brand. They do this under the leadership of Allistair Rennie and supported by the the fine Lotus development team that consistently innovate and pioneer new extensions to the Lotus suite of offerings.

I know many of these people personally and I think they do a great job and I am proud to be be associated with IBM/Lotus for these past 18+ years. That's why, after reading Dan Lynch's post today, I couldn't help but wonder how these people must feel knowing that one of their chief competitors isn't Redmond, but their own company?!!

From the: IBM Migration Services for Microsoft Exchange home page:

As a Microsoft Certified Partner, we [IBM, a Lotus parent company] have the training and experience to help you migrate to the latest version of Exchange Server from previous versions of Exchange [our chief competitor], [the industry leading] Lotus Notes, and Novell GroupWise...

Dan summed it up this way:

We've always known the IBM software, hardware and services groups are far, far apart and wildly disjointed, but this is incredible. More fodder for the C-level types to use to rationalize a move off of Notes/Domino. Thanks for making our jobs more difficult.
Should we now expect to see see a new category of "IBM Lotus Success Stories" that showcase their "successful migrations" to Exchange?

No doubt, someone at IBM considers this part of their business strategy, but I do not comprehend the wisdom of this move.

In trying to think objectively about this, I considered that perhaps IBM's thinking is that this will open the door to convincing C-Level execs NOT to migrate from Domino to Exchange by giving them an audience. Perhaps. But, promoting this on the IBM web site is a slap in the face of the tens of thousands of fine hard working people at Lotus and the thousands of dedicated Lotus Business partners and ISV's that created the Lotus ecosystem. Besides, as an exec, would YOU trust IBM to help you migrate to a Microsoft solution?

I wonder if Microsoft's strategy includes a "Let Microsoft help you migrate to IBM Lotus Domino" as part of their strategy?

Update 6/22/2010: Problem resolved thanks to a few helpful people. Please see comment thread for details

I'm stumped by this problem with Apple Safari; perhaps you can help.

Here's the situation. I have a file that I make available for others to download. The file happens to be a Notes template but it could be any file with a non-standard extension.

The file is on a hosted web site at GoDaddy. I upload files there to make them available for download.

Here's an example:

On a PC, if you click on that link from IE, FireFox, Chrome, or Safari, the browser will prompt you to Open or save the file, like this:


On a Mac using the Apple Safari browser the experience is completely different.
Continue Reading "I could really use some help with Safari on a Mac" »
IBMer Amanda Bauman of the  Lotus Technical Information and Education Community Blog recently shared her experience implementing GTD in Lotus Notes with eProductivity. It's a great post and worth reading. I'd like to share the comment I posted on her blog in response:

Hi Amanda, thanks for continuing to share your experience getting things done with Notes and eProductivity. As the creator of the software, I was tickled to read this:
"This made me think of using GTD and eProductivity as having a time machine. It gave me back hours if not days of time I might have spent getting a handle on all the things I had to do.  It also gave me confidence that I hadn't dropped the ball on anything, and who doesn't want to feel like that?."

Amanda, that pretty much sums up the 'Successful outcome" we had in mind when we set out to create the ultimate productivity solution for Lotus Software. You are not alone; we routinely hear from users that they are saving 30 minutes to an hour or more each day.

At the end of my comment, I reiterated an offer I have extended to other technology and productivity bloggers:
As far as getting a license key, my open blogger offer remains: all I ask is that you give eProductivity a try for a month and blog your experience in at least four posts on topics of your choosing. At the end of your evaluation, if you conclude that you would like to keep eProductivity, I'll send you a free activation key, no strings attached. If you decide that you would prefer to go back to your old way of working, you can simply remove eProductivity. In either case, all of your projects and actions will remain in place, so you won't lose anything. I do hope you will continue to share your experience along the way and let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Reading your blog post and the feedback we receive weekly from customers is great validation. Thanks.
If you are a technology or productivity blogger and you'd like to evaluate and blog about your experience with eProductivity, let me know. If you end up agreeing with thousands of others that eProductivity is the ultimate productivity application for IBM Lotus software and you want to keep using the product, let me know and I'll send you a complementary license key. You have nothing to lose except the time you waste each day being less productive that you could be.
I've just finished a debriefing meeting with my team following this morning's "Getting Things Done with Lotus Notes" web event with David Allen.

We're still trying to wrap our head around the overwhelming response to this event. Clearly, there are a lot of people using Lotus Notes who want to be more productive at what they do.

We had over 900 pacesetters from over 400 organizations, asking over 500 questions, and a very high level of engagement in the discussion. That's even more activity than the very successful GTD web event for IBMers three weeks ago. Apparently, the #GTDLN Twitter feed was also quite active as well.

I was also surprised at the number of people that do not use Lotus Notes who attended in order to learn more about Lotus Notes.  In fact, a few people wrote to ask if we would spend more time on Lotus Notes itself. Glad to see that interest. (Perhaps IBM should consider scheduling some live events like this for people new to Lotus Notes?)

As often happens in a live event, we ran out of time and I apologize for that. I had to skip many slides and a live demo. I know we could never have answered every question that came in, but I would like to have more time for Q&A. I'll have to improve that for the next event.

There were many popular questions (I'm still processing) including:

"How can I watch a replay or get a copy of the slides?"

We're working out the details but be sure to subscribe to the newsletter as we will share links to the replay events and downloads there. Or, you can visit the eProductivity web site.

"I don't use Lotus Notes yet but I want to. How do I get started?"

Good question. There are many excellent Lotus Business Partners out there than can help. Many of our first-time Notes customers (people that purchase Lotus Notes just so they can run eProductivity) have reported great success with Phase2. They have a hosted Notes solution that seems to work well for our customers. (I will blog about this, soon.)

"Is there a version of eProductivty for Outlook?"

I wish I made $ every time sonone asked that question. Sorry. Currently, eProductivity is for IBM Lotus Notes only. Outlook users may want to look at the NetCentrics GTD Add-in for Outlook. I have no plans to make eProductivity for Outlook. I'm much more interested in bring eProductivity to mobile devices rand the Cloud.

"How can I try eProductivity for myself?"

Easy. go here to get started with a free demo (simply download, open, and go) or a free 21-day trial

"What's the special offer you made on the webinar?"

It's great deal. Sorry, that's for registered webinar attendees only. Consider signing up for the next webinar.

"When is the next webinar"

Tomorrow. See the upcoming webinar event schedule for details.

I want to give a big shout out to the tech team who had their hands full trying to handle the volume of incoming email, skypes, questions, and twitter feeds. Great job!

Looking at the incoming email, which is now filling up, it looks like it will be a few more hours before I can mark this event "completed."

Thank you to everyone who attended. I'll try to post more information once I have time to process the day's event.
Several weeks ago, I had a conversation about Lotus Notes and one of my takeaways was that I should explore doing more webinars to help people get more from Lotus Notes. Webinars were always a part of my agenda but had often been placed on the back-burner to projects like grad school, my speaking engagements at KMworld and Lotusphere, launching a new product release for Lotus Foundations and planning for the BlackBerry application. Several people encouraged me to move webinars from 'Someday/Maybe' to 'NOW' and they offered to help spread the word.

Because I wasn't sure how much interest there would be, I decided to look at my web logs and databases to look for potential groups of interest. Seeing that I have a large number of IBMers that follow my blogs and some who use eProductivity, I decided to make the first webinar a private webinar and, based on the interest coming from IBMers, I decided to make it specific to that audience. I then asked people I know to share this event with their coworkers so that we could see who might sign up. I told them that if there was sufficient interest in a webinar, I might invite David Allen to copresent with me. This would allow us to cover methodology as well as technology.

The response was overwhelming

As of today, we have well over 500 IBMers signed up and a growing list of people that have expressed interest in follow-on events. I'm still working on the agenda, but here's a quick overview as it stands now:

AGENDA: Getting Things Done with Lotus Notes

•Your Personal Productivity Equation
•Overview of the GTD® Methodology
•How to implement GTD in Vanilla Lotus Notes
•How to use eProductivity™ for IBM Lotus Notes
•What's in Eric and David's Productivity Toolkit
•Your Roadmap to Making It All Work
•Resources and Tools

IBM-only Event, April 8, 2010 10:00-11:30 AM PST        
Public Event, April 28, 2010 10:00-11:30 AM PST        

Continue Reading "Over 500 people have signed up for the Webinar this week" »

As I mentioned over on the Notes on Productivity blog, this last weekend I talked with David Allen on a variety of subjects around productivity and Lotus Notes.

David allowed me to record a portion of our conversation, and he has this great riff on Outlook and Lotus Notes that I want to share with you.

12-24-08_SantasEMailIcon.jpgCheck out the screen shots of how Santa uses Lotus Notes to get things done in time for Christmas. For the background on this story and an exclusive photo, you can read the full story.

Source: Notes On Productivity
I'm having problems with VMWARE and Notes 8.5.1. and it;'s killing my productivity. My last request for help on my blog was fruitful so I thought I would try again.

For development and testing, I maintain VMs with various versions of Lotus Notes and I use VMWARE to manage these. Since upgrading to 8.5.1, hoever, my system will freeze for 3-4 minutes and then return as if nothing had happened. It does this often -- but only when running the VMWARE Workstation.

Some more details:

My Host PC is a ThinkPad W500 fully loaded with 2.5Ghz Core2 Duo CPU, 3GB RAM, XP Sp3. and very few apps loaded, namely Notes 8.51 and the latest VMWARE Workstation 6.5.3 Build 185404.

Guest OS is Windows XP SP2, with 1.5GB ram allocated. When we run the VM, we have no apps running on host OS and in the guest PC the only app loaded is Notes 8.5.1 Client and Designer. In other words, before I launch the VM I exit out of Notes on my laptop.

If I open notes 8.5.1 in the guest PC and do nothing after a few minutes the entire system will freeze HOST & GUEST but then, after 3-4 minutes everything will return with no local of place or data - as if nothing were wrong.

I can't say that this is a Notes 8.5.1 issue. It could well be an issue with the current version of VMWARE Workstation. In fact, I would tend to suspect VMWARE as the cause as my entire computer hangs, not just the guest OS session.

Anyway, I thought I would put this out to the blogosphere in the hope that someone who has seen this before might comment and so that others may learn from the comments.

Oh, and one more symptom: From time to time, I will completely lose TCP support on my laptop and Notes will display this error on the status bar of the Notes client (on host).

"Replicator error, the TCP/IP protocol stack reported that it ran out of memory. Consult your network documentation to increase configured memory, or reduce Notes connections by limiting clients (See SERVER_MAXSESSIONS parameter in Notes Admin Guide)" What;s strange is that this error appear on my workstation - not on the server as the error message would suggest...

Could this be an unstable VM? Or, a conflict with VMWARE and ECLIPSE? Or even operator error on my part? (That's been known to happen, too.)
I haven't been blogging much lately as we've been hard at work on the next release of eProductivity and planning something special for mobile users. Meanwhile here's a tip for my readers that like to get things done with Lotus Notes...

Ryan's running a promotion to acknowledge the eProductivity pioneers - the people who first saw the benefit in using eProductivity to GTD-Enable their Lotus Notes. The pioneers, using eProductivity primarily at the office, usually purchased the software with their own money. (How's that for a testimony of product value?) Anyway, Ryan's running a promotion to encourage these pioneers to share their story of how they GTD-Enabled their Lotus Notes with eProductivity, and how they are now getting more done in less time and with less stress than ever before. Between now and the end of the year, he's offering 5 free licenses of eProductivity to companies that purchase a 10-pack AND when they do, he's offering to refund the original purchase of eProductivity.

This is a great way to get even more value from eProductivity. You can learn more over at the Inside eProductivity blog.

Meanwhile, lots of things on the horizon for Lotusphere 2010 (you ARE going, right?) and beyond. I'll start blogging more regularly, soon.

Are you planning to exhibit at Lotusphere 2010?

Saturday, November 21st, 2009
I've just returned from my last conference for 2009 and I could not help but notice the fact that fewer companies are exhibiting and fewer people are bothering to visit the booths of those vendors that do. I'm sure this is in part a symptom of the economy and in part due to shifts in the way that vendors reach their prospects. One conference I recently attended had an exhibit hall that was only about half as full as last year. To make matters worse, bowls of candy and giveaways remained untouched - few people were visiting the booths. Ouch!

Last year at Lotusphere 2009, we were told that conference attendance was up from the previous year. Since I did not attend LS08, I cannot make a comparison; however, the attendance - at least in the product showcase where I spent 3 days - seemed light.

As I think ahead to Lotusphere 2010, I wonder what it will be like this year.

If you are a vendor of products or services for Lotus Software, I'd be curious to get your thoughts on-line or off-line and I would be curious to know if you think we will see a lot of traffic in the product showcase this year.
I'm trying to export a script library using the 8.5.1 designer so I can move it elsewhere. In 7.x designer, it's as simple as, well, exporting a script library.

The export feature appears to be missing from my 8.5.1 designer and it's driving me crazy.  For that matter, I do not have the ability to import a script library either. While I very much like the 8.5.1. designer, this is a serious show-stopper for me.

My current workaround is to move the DB to a computer with 7.03 designer, export the LSS there and copy it back to the 8.5.1 box.

It's certainly not productive.

I hope I'm simply missing a setting or something. It would seem a huge step back to have lost this functionality with the move to 8.5.1.

Any help would be appreciated.
I've been invited to collaborate on a session proposal for Business Development Day at Lotusphere 2010. This session will focus on the Lotus Business partner that resells and supports Lotus Notes and/or Lotus Foundations. My copresenter will be David Lawrence, a key Lotus Foundations business partner who will share his experiences winning and keeping satisfied customers. Together, we'll show how to use the  personal productivity aspect of Lotus Software to win sales and keep customers happy. This is sure to be a valuable session for anyone focused on selling Lotus Notes or Foundations or even someone that just wants to keep unhappy end users from showing up with flaming torches.
LS10 Business Development Day Session Proposal:
"How to Win New Business and Keep Your Customers from Switching to the Dark Side"

Session Abstract:

LOTUS KNOWS that when business tools become “personal,” productivity increases and when personal productivity increases so does the productivity of the workgroup and the organization. In this session, you will learn how Lotus Business Partners are winning sales and keeping customers from migrating to Outlook by showing them how to get things done with Lotus Notes and Foundations.Come and see how Lotus Business Partners are leveraging the power of Lotus Notes 8.5.1 and best-selling author, David Allen's "Getting Things Done" (GTD) methodology to deliver quantifiable productivity gains, win new business, and fend-off competitive displacement.

David Lawrence, President Smart technology Enablers
Eric Mack, Founder, ICA.COM, Inc.
Now, it's time for me to turn my attention to my upcoming  at KMWORLD. I'll be moderating a panel of experts on personal KM with my colleague, Allan Crawford. We'll also be presenting a workshop on high performance knowledge work.
At Lotusphere 2009, I co-moderated a Birds of a Feather session with David Allen. We hung out with a great group of people who all had a passion for getting things done and using Notes productively. The BOF was at a 7:00 AM slot on Tuesday morning, and I wasn't sure who, if anyone would actually show up that early. To my delight, we actually had a large number of people participate and it was fun to be able to engage in the kind of discussion that's not practical in a normal breakout session.

I decided to propose a similar BOF for LS10:
Birds of a Feather/Community of Interest Proposal:
Getting Things Done with Lotus Notes - Making Notes Personal

Session Abstract:

LOTUS KNOWS when tools become “personal,” productivity increases and when personal productivity increases, so does the productivity of the workgroup and the organization. This community of interest will explore ways to make using Lotus Notes more productive by making it “personal.” This interactive discussion will bring together expert and novice Lotus Notes users to share how they are using Notes for personal information and action management.

Continue Reading "LS10 BOF Proposal: Getting Things Done with Lotus Notes" »

LS10 BP Session Abstract Submitted

Friday, October 9th, 2009
I've just pressed SUBMIT on my abstracts for Lotusphere. It took two hours to write the proposals and a few more to get them to fit within the allowed word counts. If I had more time, I would have written shorter abstracts. ;-)

Based on the positive feedback we continue to receive, I felt that it would make sense to offer a session that will build upon the successful sessions that I presented in February with David Allen. I decided to keep the title the same because it clearly communicates the theme. If you read the justification, you'll learn more about what will be presented. For those that missed last year, it will provide a good foundation and for those that did attend, there will be some new content as well.

Best Practices Session Proposal:
Lotus Notes and Me: Maximizing Personal Productivity with Lotus Notes

Session Abstract:

Most people think of Lotus Notes as an "organizational" tool; that’s the way it’s marketed and it’s often the way organizations deploy it – as a top down solution. Seldom do you hear about Notes being used for "personal" productivity or knowledge management.  As a consequence users see Notes as a “company” system and not “their” tool. Lotus knows when tools become “personal,” productivity increases, and when personal productivity increases so does the productivity of the workgroup and the organization.

Lotus also knows my Inbox is overflowing; I could be better organized; and my real work is outside the inbox. This session will show you how you can use Notes coupled with proven best practices to become more productive and get things done.

Why I think it is important that this session be included on this year’s Lotusphere agenda:

Continue Reading "LS10 BP Session Abstract Submitted" »

Productive sidebar widgets in Notes 8.51

Monday, October 5th, 2009
I've been playing with Notes 8.51 and looking for ways to leverage the many features of Notes 8.51 with eProductivity to create an even better productivity system. A few things we have been looking at are Sidebar Widgets and Unified Task Management. The design team has been hard at work on the next major release of eProductivity for Notes 8.5x and Ryan just posted screen shots of a few new sidebar widgets that we are making available to our design partners now. These will show up in the next release of eProductivity within the week.

I'm also reviewing our unified task management strategy. As you may know, David Allen is a BIG proponent of a single unified inbox in which to collect your stuff. The eProductivity design team is  working on making it possible for you to drag and drop anything onto a sidebar context and manage it in Notes, GTD-Style, with eProductivity. This means that you'll soon be able to manage external links (e.g. web and mobile) as part of your eProductivity system.

I want to thank Stephan Wissel, a long-time eProductivity user and tireless champion as well as a relentless pursuer of sidebar views from eProductivity.

Read: Sidebar widgets for Notes 8.x, coming soon!
Last year, I purchased a BlackBerry Bold to play with. I don't use it often because there's no wireless coverage where I live. Recently, I set up a WiFi access point and a BES in order to test the integration with Lotus Notes. I've only had BES running for a short while and I'm impressed with the seamless integration between Notes and the BlackBerry.

My real interest was to explore how I might improve upon the on-device applications from a productivity perspective. What I found was that the onboard apps leave much to be desired - especially tasks and memo (reference).

I use eProductivity for Lotus Notes, along with several reference databases. The first reference database is mapped as my personal Journal, so it syncs automatically with the BlackBerry. The BlackBerry only provides native support for one "MemoPad" database on the device. I'd like to get my other reference databases to Sync with the BlackBerry as well. When I used to do integration with the Palm, I used products by Sybase and CommonTime with great success. I know that there are many equivalent options for the BlackBerry. Ideally, I'm looking for something that if I recommend it to a client they won't balk at price or complexity to deploy.

Are you synching additional discussion/document/reference databases with your BlackBerry? If so, which sync tool are you using and how is that working for you?

The Seven Degrees of Bruce Elgort

Thursday, October 1st, 2009
When he's not out driving the Lotus Knows bus, he's making connections between Lotus folk. Did you know that everyone in the yellow sphere can be traced back to Bruce Elgort in 7 steps or less? In fact, in most cases, you can track anyone in two steps or less. Take today for example: For a week I had been banging my head against the bleeding edge of a BES 5.0 server, trying to get it to talk to Domino so that I could do some testing of eProductivity for mobile devices. In frustration, I called Bruce for advice and he told me to call Darren Duke, of STS, an expert in all things BlackBerry. Today, I met with Darren and in just a few hours of consulting, my BES was up and running and my BlackBerry was buzzing and productive. If you want to make BES sing. call Darren. If you want to learn to sing, call Bruce. I'm sure he knows someone that can help.

Glad to be part of an awesome community of yellow folk.

Lotus Knows Everywhere

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
I'm seeing signs of the Lotus knows campaign in all of the unusual places.

Fast Company magazine:

Work Smarter with Lotus Software? You bet.

Lotus knows.

#LotusKnows Today - Free eProductivity Software

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
The Lotus Knows campaign kicked off today. Congratulations to the Lotus Marketing Team for a great start. Apparently, there are sightings all over, including in the Wall street Journal and the Boston Globe print editions with more media coverage promised.


Here's a link to the Lotus Knows web site and to the Lotus Knows Twitter Fountain, hosted by Chris Blatnick. Here's a link to our Lotus Knows video entry with comments from myself and David Allen.


Rock Your Work with Lotus and eProductivity - for free

To join the celebration, I've decided to give away a free eProductivity license today -- that's a $399 value. Here's all you need to know:

Continue Reading "#LotusKnows Today - Free eProductivity Software" »

Rock your work with Lotus

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Lotus doesn't know about this video.

[ YouTube Link ]

Lotus recently held a contest and asked people to create videos about how they're using Lotus products in creative ways. With everything I have going on at ICA and eProductivity, I made the choice to put "create Lotus Knows video" on the back burner. I knew this meant I would miss the deadline to enter the contest. That's OK.

Here's my video. It's a little rough around the edges, but it was fun to create. I certainly can't take credit alone for this video. I had help and encouragement from a talented group of people who helped me turn some of my unpolished ideas into the final video you see.  Hat tip to Brian, Tanny, Ryan, and Bruce.  (Yes, Michael, it was created on a Mac.)

It was a fun and creative exercise to put this together. I welcome your comments and feedback.

Lotus Knows the Mack family uses Notes

Monday, September 7th, 2009
And they are blogging.

Many years ago, my very good friend, Tanny O'Haley, helped me create several web sites, based on Steve Castledine's DominoBlog template. DominoBlog is so good that IBM made it a part of the standard Domino templates. Unfortunately, many of the coolest features were rinsed away during the blue wash which is why I decided to stick with the classic. My friend, Greg Fisk, did the graphic work and Tanny worked tirelessly to help me create and launch several Domino-based web sites, including: ICA, eProductivity, EricMackOnLine, NotesOnProductivty, InSide.eProductivity, and a few others, that you will learn about, soon.

One of the non work-related sites that Tanny generously created for me was a blog for our family and homeschool. That was over 5 years ago, and several projects got moved in front of launching the blog site, so the database sat empty. Over the years, many of the family posts that would have made it into the family site ended up getting posted to my personal blog. This week, Amy and Wendy helped me migrate content and populate the site and test the new MackAcademy blog and this evening the site went live. My wife and younger daughters are also excited about the idea of having a blog to post to, so it truly is a family event.

We still have some work to do to fix a few broken links and missing images but the site is up and Amy and Wendy are the new web masters. It's a great way to teach them more about Notes and Domino (which they have been using since age 3, anyway) and give them exposure to social network tools.

I look forward to seeing where they take the site.

A big thanks to Tanny and Steve, for their help and support over the years as I routinely called with a question or feature request or tiny "improvement idea" that would take hours to implement. I could not have done this without their help. Thanks, guys.
Ann Veneman, the head of the United Nations' children's fund, UNICEF, took time to answer questions for the media recently. Among the many important questions she chose to answer was one about the migration from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange:

Do you believe spending $5.8 million on email migration from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange is justified given UNICEF is funded entirely from voluntary contributions? What was the business case for your move from Lotus Notes to MS Exchange? How will it help UNICEF?

The vast majority of UNICEF's staff are scattered around the world in country offices, managing programmes that target the urgent needs of children. Global communications that are efficient and effective are essential to this work, and decisions about them are not taken lightly. UNICEF decided to migrate to Microsoft Exchange/Outlook after an assessment of its specific organisational needs and priorities. The assessment revealed that migration will deliver an email and communication environment that better meets these needs with considerable cost-savings, and the ultimate beneficiaries will be children in need. UNICEF is one of several UN agencies taking this step.

So, it looks like UNICEF and perhaps other UN organizations are trying to get greater value from the investment they have already made in their messaging and collaboration technology. Microsoft must have a very compelling value proposition for UNICEF to decide to invest close to six million dollars to rip and replace their existing infrastructure. I recently blogged my thoughts on how UNICEF can get greater value from their existing investment in Lotus Notes.

Reuters: UNICEF chief answers your questions, September 5, 2009

I'm intrigued by Andrew Pollack's recent blog about the ultimate VMWARE ESXi server that he built for development and testing. It would certainly be valuable for me to be able to run test domino servers each in their own VM. Andrew has done a great job of documenting his setup from a hardware perspective and it's well worth a read. Before I venture into this myself, I have a few questions for any Domino/VMWARE experts out there...

Continue Reading "Best practices for Domino in a VMWARE Virtual Machine" »
As a child, I remember going door to door on Halloween with my UNICEF Box to collect money to help children around the world. I've been following with great interest this  Inner City Press news report of an apparent  whistleblower report claiming that UNICEF has apparently decided to migrate from Lotus Domino to Microsoft Exchange at a cost of approximately 6 million dollars. I must admit that I find this alarming when I do not see a financial or operational benefit to UNICEF for the cost of switching platforms, (I would say the same if they were an Exchange shop and were thinking of switching to Domino.)

There's been a lot of discussion in the Notes community about what people think is going on and the logic of the decision-making. An interesting summary also appears here. I won't try to second-guess the reasons -- I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

Two things are clear to me:
1) I do not have any facts about the matter
2) There's probably more to this decision than is readily apparent.

How can UNICEF get greater value from their current investment in IBM Lotus Notes/Domino?

At the end of the day, migration decisions are about value. Someone, somewhere at UNICEF, must believe that the UNICEF will get greater value from migrating to a new platform than from staying with the present platform. In talking with some colleagues at ICA, we got to thinking about how  UNICEF might obtain greater value from their current infrastructure - value that would more than justify any investment.  Since UNICEF has already upgraded their Domino infrastructure to Notes 8, they already have in place a proven system to messaging, collaboration, and distributed applications. And, with version 8.51,  things are going to get even better. Domino 8 already offers the IT side of the house many features that will lower operating costs, save disk space and admin time, etc.. So what could UNICEF DO to get greater value from their current investment in Lotus Notes/Domino? To me, the answer is simple: equip their people with the skills and tools to use the power of Lotus Notes  (the system they already have in place) to help end users - the people on the front lines - to become more productive, to get more done with less, and to reclaim time spent each day.

People around the world are achieving extraordinary things using David Allen's “Getting Things Done®” (“GTD®”) methodology - it's a way of thinking about your work that clarifies the outcome and the steps to get there. It's the smartest investment I think of to help people become more productive. Best of all, GTD is a thought process - that means it can be implemented using any tools, from paper to web, to Lotus Notes, to Microsoft Outlook. And, there are thriving communities of GTD enthusiasts for each.

For people that use Lotus Notes, eProductivity™ is a proven application that makes implementing GTD in IBM Lotus Notes, easy. People around the world are reclaiming up to 30 minutes each day simply by using eProductivity and Lotus Notes to get things done. That's a half day a week of reclaimed productivity - per Lotus Notes user. What could you do with 1/2 a day of found time each week? Now, consider that you are UNICEF and you have 30,000 employees and that you have the potential to recover 30,000 half-days of time each week? What would that be worth?

The advantages I see are many: Small investment. No new servers to buy and license, and no rip-and-replace of the infrastructure. No admin training.

GTD can be implemented using the tools (e.g. Notes) that the end-users are already familiar with using the built-in features of the Notes Client that's already on the desktop. If they want to go further and deploy eProductivity, that's easy to do.

Thanks to the Lotus Notes template and replication architecture - unmatched by any other platform I'm aware of, applications like eProductivity can be deployed to 30 people or 30,000 people with a single command at the Domino Server console. Or, end-users can deploy it themselves. Either way, it's a quick process, thanks to the power of Notes & Domino.

I have no idea if the ideas in this post will ever get past the 8 readers of this blog, but I feel compelled to blog anyway. At a time when organizations are looking to cut costs to save money and are trying to do more with less, it is surprising to me that any organization would spend 6 million dollars to migrate to another platform unless they had a very compelling business-case for the switch - one that would assure them of extraordinary value. For organizations that use Notes (and for those that are contemplating migrating to something else) a small investment in people and process will go a very long way.
I submitted another idea today to the Lotus Knows IdeaJam. Please have a look and vote:
Lotus Knows that a Year-Round IdeaJam is the Best Way to Stay Connected

Kudos to Ed Brill and his team for opening up the conversation in this way. I would like to see Lotus keep this IdeaJam going year-round. I think it would be a valuable resource and, provided that they remain engaged, will help change people's perceptions about Lotus products and brand. In just 24 hours, It's had already profound impact already in the way that I think and talk about IBM/Lotus.

IBM Lotus Knows How to Be Productive

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
IBM has invited people around to world to share their ideas and stories around Lotus solutions and how to get the word out. This is a bold step for big blue and one I applaud. I think it's also great that they tapped Elguji Software to operate the ideajam. I guess Lotus Knows that Elguji Knows how to drive Innovation!

I've posted my contribution to the "Lotus Knows" jam:
Lotus Knows That Productive People Use Notes to Get Things Done

When the recognized world expert on productivity talks passionately about a product he’s used and recommended for the past 15 years – Lotus Notes – I think that’s significant. We’re not talking about an IBM-hired spokesperson that’s possibly never used (or perhaps never heard of) Lotus Notes or the Lotus brand. David’s a passionate end-user that has been accomplishing extraordinary things with Notes. And, he does not hesitate to share how he uses Lotus Notes in his books and seminars.

Since the purpose of the Lotus Knows IdeaJam is to explore ideas to help Lotus reach the unreached, I suggest that increasing awareness of how ordinary – and extraordinary – people are using Lotus Notes to get things done would be a very good thing to attract folks who might otherwise have not considered a Lotus product as a potential solution. I know this to be true: every time David mentions Lotus Notes or our product at a seminar, our phones ring and downloads increase.

Continue Reading "IBM Lotus Knows How to Be Productive" »

Thank you Lotus Community

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
I appreciate many people in the Lotus community some affectionately call the yellow bubble. As just one example, l last night I reached out to Volker Weber on Skype with a question for an idea that I had for how to reach and serve this community. It was the first time we have communicated, but he was right there, offering input and advice that changed the direction of my plan - I believe for the better.

That's just one example; I've had similar experiences with many in the yellow sphere and have made many wonderful friendships as a result.

This is a neat group of people to hang out with.

And they are all yellow.

That's cool!

David Allen Company Coach and GTD Blogger Kelly Forrister posted a podcast today: Getting Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes on the GTD Times blog.

This podcast kicks off her GTD Toolbox Tour which will highlight and review various tools to support the implementation of David Allen's Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology.

"In our recent podcast  on The Perfect GTD List Manager, we shared that one of the most common questions we get is, “Which tool should I use for my GTD lists?”  Specifically, you want to know which tools David Allen uses!  While the GTD approach is tool-agnostic, we have our personal favorites, as we know many of you do as well.  eProductivity for IBM Lotus Notes is one of those, and is the tool David (and most of the staff at DavidCo) use to help manage our workflow."
In this podcast, Kelly and I talk about some of the design philosophy and underlying features and principles that make eProductivity the GTD tool that David Allen uses and recommends.

Getting Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes

Listen carefully: there’s a free trial and on the podcast and an offer of $100 off to the first 50 people that respond by June 15.

Via GTD Times

Update: In addition to the $100 off special discount, I've decided to set up a free drawing for eProductivity, ActiveWords, and GyroQ - the three tools that I use to improve my productivity with Lotus Notes. See here for details.

Sander Zwart is blogging about his experience implementing GTD in Lotus Notes.

It's exciting to read emails and blogs from people around the world that are finding ways to increase their personal productivity and effectiveness using IBM Lotus Notes.

In case you don't read Dutch, here's the English translation.
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.

I've just  blogged about my experience over on the Notes On Productivity blog.

It was indeed a great day at the GTD Summit and I'm having a wonderful time. I've taken many photos of the event, but have had no time for blogging beyond this one post. However, IBMer Chris Blatnick is blogging the event so be sure to read it or follow the #GTDSummit Twitter Feed.

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.
David Allen is apparently promoting IBM Lotus Notes... again.

I've been following IBMer Peter Simoons's Twitter Feed today as he attends David Allen's, Making It All Work Seminar, in Amsterdam.

Peter's a productivity champion at IBM and we've had many interesting conversations and email exchanges over the years about Lotus Notes, GTD, and how the two intersect. It's been fun to read Peter's take on the new Making It All Work Seminar. (David gave folks that attended Lotusphere 2009 a tiny preview of the MIAW seminar we copresented our Best Practices session: Maximizing personal productivity with IBM Lotus Notes. PDF)

Peter's recent Tweets are quite interesting:

I love this one: "David comparing Lotus Notes to Web 2.0: We had web 2.0 before the web existed." While that statement is probably not entirely accurate, I do love it when people show me something new and I get to say: "but I got that 10 years ago in Notes."

David Allen's been a long time user and champion of Notes. In fact, David was my first Lotus Notes customer - over 15 years ago. I'm amazed that IBM hasn't snagged him as their official spokesperson or asked him to be a key customer reference. If I had a dollar for every time he talked about Lotus Notes at a seminar, to a client, or even at a public conference,  like Office 2.0 (watch the video)... I think IBM missed a huge opportunity when David was at Lotusphere this year. Even though I've heard him speak countless times, I would have much preferred hearing David as the guest speaker. I'm not saying that because David's a friend; I think people would have left the opening session with something they could really put to use.  

The Teamstudio Spotlight Award 2009

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
Teamstudio Announces Winners of the 2009 Spotlight Awards

Lotusphere, Orlando, FL - January 20, 2009
Teamstudio announced today the winners of this year's Teamstudio Spotlight Awards Contest.

The contest, in its second year, was created to raise awareness of how great, relevant and effective Lotus Notes applications can be. Entrants were asked to initially submit a brief write-up about their applications, which were then rated on 5 criteria: (1) complexity of task performed, (2) degree of automation, (3) size of user community, (4) business value, and (5) creativity and innovation of design. The judging panel comprised of industry experts Bill Buchan, Bruce Elgort, Joe Litton, Julian Robichaux and Craig Schumann then selected 3 finalists to demonstrate their applications to determine top winners.

To learn about the winners, visit this link.

Link to orginal Teamstudio press release

This evening, eProductivity Principal Architect Ian Armstrong and I were presented with a plaque for our honorable mention at the Teamstudio Spotlight Awards reception at Lotusphere 2009.

Teamstudio CTO Nigel Cheshire with ICA President Eric Mack and eProductivity Principal Architect, Ian Armstrong at the Teamstudio Awards Reception

The honorable mention was for "the remarkable application: eProductivity." I am delighted and we would like to thank Ian for his hard work and the folks at Teamstudio for this recognition.

Teamstudio Spotlight Award honorable mention for the remarkable application: eProductivity

As part of this recognition, the folks at DominoPower will be writing an article about the product. Until then, you can learn more, here.
This evening, David Allen and I presented our best practices session at Lotusphere. It was a lot of fun to copresent with David as our presentation styles are so different. It reminded me of the "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" ads. (Can you guess who would be the PC?)

Last-minute slide review at the Swan hotel before our presentation
Last-minute slide review at the Swan hotel before our presentation

Continue Reading "Our Lotusphere best practices session is over!" »

How to find eProductivity at Lotusphere 2009

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

The eProductivity team will be at Lotusphere. We will be exhibiting in the Product Showcase, at Pedestal #722. I just received the approved signage. So, if you are planning to stop by and say hello - and I hope you do - here's the sign to look for...

I'd like to replace the icons that we use for our eProductivity Mail and Reference database. The Mail Icon, well, it's a mail icon and the red check mark communicates that it includes eProductivity functionality to make Getting Things Done in Notes, easy. I want to reference icon to communicate that this database is to be used to store nonactionable reference materials.


I managed to cobble together the icon on the right showing what some users may recognize as a file drawer with 3-tab folders in it. I know we can do better than that. I'm just graphically challenged. 32x32 pixels in 16 colors isn't much to work with, but I've seen some amazing icons when those pixels are manipulated by someone with artistic talent.

I thought I would put this to the community by asking for suggestions either for an outstanding Icon designer or library. Perhaps I should hold a contest? Any ideas?
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 "Listen in as David and I discuss Notes and Lotusphere 2009" »

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.

After spending the past two months on the list of the top 5 Lotusphere Best Practice Session proposals, I just received confirmation that my Lotusphere session proposal has been accepted.

Breakout session:
Lotus Notes and Me: Maximizing Personal Productivity with Lotus Notes

I've invited my friend and client, David Allen, to co-present with me. We will be sharing our experience and best practices for knowledge worker productivity using Lotus Notes.  Thank you for your votes!

Our other Lotusphere proposal for a birds of a feather session is still under consideration.

Birds of a feather session:
Getting Things Done with Lotus Notes - Making Notes Personal

If this is a session that you would like to see at Lotusphere, I hope you will click on the link and add your vote!

I look forward to this opportunity. I'll have more news to post, soon.
I've been live-blogging the conference with DominoBlog but no one knows. Why? Because port 1352 is blocked. That's too bad as many of us here at the conference use Lotus Notes.

I wish Notes had a built-in tunneling mechanism to failover to port 80.

Next time, I plan to setup a VPN link.

I see many Notes users at the conference...

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
From my vantage point and as I walk around the conference, I see many people working on their laptops. Many are using Lotus Notes. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised as many of the organizations that were pioneering in their application of KM were also pioneers many years earlier in their use of Lotus Notes.  I don't know but there could well be a half a million or a million Notes users represented here. I wonder what the real numbers are. Any way, these are some smart people, focused on learning and knowledge and the productivity of the people in their organization.

I wonder what any of them would think about eProductivity for Lotus Notes?

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.

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. (This conference has historically been more administrator and developer oriented.) Still, it seems to me that even developers and admins (and the people they serve) need to be productive.

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.

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 would 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 do 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.
An expert on user interface design, Chris Blatnick, recently reviewed eProductivity and shares his thoughts on his experience from a design and usability perspective:
eProductivity is THE GTD solution for Lotus Notes.  It has a very simple and intuitive user interface, one that stays out of the way until you need it.  Since the GTD features are so finely integrated into the context of the work you do everyday, you immediately become more productive when using it.  eProductivity avoids flashy functionality and complicated routines and instead quietly empowers you to perform your daily tasks faster and more efficiently.  This is the hallmark of good software design, something the eProductivity team obviously knows a lot about.  For those that want to greatly improve their performance, I can highly recommend eProductivity for Lotus Notes.

Full post: Interface Matters:  On Total (e)Productivity In Lotus Notes
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.

I've posted more thoughts about this on Notes On Productivity.
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" »

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.
Over on the Notes on Productivity blog, I asked Notes users two questions about what gets in the way, when implementing GTD in Lotus Notes.

If you currently use, have tried using, or are considering using Lotus Notes as your GTD implementation tool, I hope you will post your thoughts...

What’s new with eProductivity for Notes?

Thursday, April 24th, 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.
I've just posted the final installment in my series about how to ramp up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes.

Today, I share some thoughts on the value of getting connected to people who have a similar interest in getting things done and the information to help you become a GTD blackbelt.

To learn more about my Knowledge Worker Productivity equation and to join an ongoing discussion about using GTD & Notes, visit the Notes on Productivity Blog.
I've just posted the next installment in my series about how to ramp up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes.

Today, I share some thoughts on the value I found in hiring a productivity coach to help you learn how to get things done.

To learn more about my Knowledge Worker Productivity equation and to join an ongoing discussion about using GTD & Notes, visit the Notes on Productivity Blog.
I've just posted the next installment in my series about how to ramp up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes.

Today, I share some thoughts on how to mobilize your Lotus Notes-based GTD implementation.

To learn more about my Knowledge Worker Productivity equation and to join an ongoing discussion about using GTD & Notes, visit the Notes on Productivity Blog.
I've just posted the next installment in my series about how to ramp up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes. In today's segment I talk about using Lotus Notes as a List Manager and Implementation tool for GTD.

To learn more about my Knowledge Worker Productivity equation and to join an ongoing discussion about using GTD & Notes, visit the Notes on Productivity Blog.

The eProductivity Equation: Methodology

Thursday, April 10th, 2008
I've just posted the next installment in my series about how to ramp up quickly with GTD. In today's segment I share about the most important aspect of the eProductivity equation and that is: methodology.

Here's the link to my post today about GTD as a productivity methodology.

To learn more about my Knowledge Worker Productivity equation and to join an ongoing discussion about the GTD methodology as an aspect of knowledge worker productivity visit the Notes on Productivity Blog.

The eProductivity Equation: KWP = M x T x K

Thursday, April 10th, 2008
I've just posted the first installment in my series about how to ramp up quickly with GTD and Lotus Notes.

To learn more about my Knowledge Worker Productivity equation and to join an ongoing discussion about using GTD & Notes, visit the Notes on Productivity Blog.
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?"" »
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. I invited them 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.

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 webinar, I asked my host if I could share the audio portion of the webinar with other eProductivity users; she graciously agreed.

You can download the webinar audio from my Notes On Productivity Blog

I'm working on the new web site for eProductivity (yes, it's about time) and I'll be back to blogging, soon.
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" »
Doug Ransom, had this to say in his posted comment to Michael Dolan's blog:
...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 can't 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.
While I agree with Doug, that vanilla Lotus Notes Tasks can be cumbersome to use, Lotus Notes (or Outlook, or whatever product) is only a tool to support the work process. One of my clients, The David Allen Company, has a number of people that use Notes quite effectively to manage their projects and actions. For them, Notes is their trusted system. So, there must be more to this than just the tool....

Doug had a lot more to say and so do I. I have posted the rest of his comment along with my response, and an offer for Doug here, on my Notes on Productivity blog.
I've written before that I was disappointed that Lotus Notes wasn't more ink friendly. Well, I'm pleased to report that I'm using Notes on my new Lenovo X61 Tablet PC with Vista. Nothing's changed on the IBM Notes side, but the TIP implementation in Vista makes Notes MUCH easier to use with a stylus. On the flight back from Boston, I processed several hundred emails in Lotus Notes on my X61 Tablet - entirely in slate mode. The improvement and my change in perception about Notes as an ink enabled app is due to two things: first, the ink support and the TIP implementation in Vista are very good. Second, the Lenovo X61 Tablet is a great machine.  Nothing like my other tablet. The pen is like writing in paper and the size and button layout makes it a dream to use. You might even say I'm about to become YABHTU again.
It's no secret that I think Lotus Notes is an amazing program. I've been working with Notes for 15+ years and in that time, I've yet to find a product that can do as much with so little, for so little cost. Yet, I routinely hear the "I hate Notes" cry from the uninformed or worse - people who've had Notes thrust upon them with no training or support. It's no wonder that these people don't think the same about Notes as I do. I have a well known client in the productivity business that uses Notes. People often ask him why he doesn't use Outlook (or many other products), to which he responds with a list of features that Notes has and that he relies upon that other programs, like Outlook, can't touch.

So what's the problem? I'll tell you. IBM sells Notes to companies. But people use Notes - not companies. It's time, in my humble opinion, to put Notes in the hands of the people. I mean really put it in their hands - in a way that they can use it and innovate with it. My wife uses Notes and loves it. She doesn't really know what Notes is or does. She just knows that Notes is the tool that lets her have her information anywhere, any time, period. And she knows that it is what makes her paperless filing system possible. While she hasn't designed any databases, she's thought up many. Fortunately, Kathy has me to help her. Many Notes users are not as fortunate.

Continue Reading "What IBM needs to do to gain end-user traction with Notes" »

Enterprise 2.0: Lotus Notes did that...

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007
10 years ago, or more.

As I listen to the key presentations at the conference and product pitches from the E 2.0 vendors (and even to Marc Orchant's description of how he uses all these tools to link his systems) I can't help but smile and think about the stuff I've been doing with Lotus Notes - for the past 15+ years.

The speakers are saying that asynchronous & persistent collaboration is the real NEW of Enterprise 2.0. (Oh, really? Notes did that two decades ago.)

How does the saying go? There's nothing new? Well, I'm not sure about that, but at least a portion of what is now being billed as Enterprise 2.0 is definitely not new. I've been doing this for years.

Thank you, Lotus Notes.  I look forward to Lotus Connections to bring us to further extend E 2.0
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 recently decided to move all of our personal and business accounting operations to my accounting firm. Having the accounting firm handle all of the QuickBooks accounting including bank reconciliations, billing and writing checks for us is great but it exposes another problem - how to quickly move lots paper securely between us and the accounting firm. Over on my Notes on Productivity blog, I've posted a short video clip and screen shots of my paperless filing system in Lotus Notes.

An intelligence test for Lotus Notes Geeks

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007
Have fun.
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?" »

Notes and MindManager Webinar update

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007
For those of you who are still waiting patiently to view the MindJet Webinar on using Lotus Notes and MindManager, Mindjet is working on fixing a problem with the WebEx recording.

We had a great turnout with over 450 people registered and over 250 attendees in the live webinar - all but 20 of whom stayed 25 minutes overtime for the Q&A. In addition, I've corresponded with many of you about potential topics for future webinars on these and other topics. Thank you for your feedback. It's always welcome.

As soon as Mindjet fixes the problem review the recording, we will make it available to the public.

Thanks for your patience!
Well, the Mindjet webinar is now done, and it appears that it was quite a success. Last night, my children asked me what a webinar was, so we made attending one a homeschool assignment. Kathy and the girls logged in and watched the webinar on the big screen in the conference room. After the webinar, my fan club marched in with signs to let me know what they thought...


I love positive feedback. More importantly, I hope that they, along with the several hundred people that participated, found value in what I had to share about how I use Lotus Notes and MindManager as knowledge management tools.

By the time the webinar was over, I had already received 30 new emails from folks thanking me for the webinar, sharing how they use Lotus Notes and MindManager to support their implementation of GTD, and asking for my MindManager map of resources. Since then, another 25 emails have come in - and it's only 4:15 PM!

In a day or two, Mindjet will send me the WebEx recording of the webinar so that I can review it. I'll update my maps and create another map to respond to all of the questions that came in. Then, I'll make these available for download.  To that end, if you have a question that you wanted to ask but didn't, feel free to send it  to me. Likewise, if you would like to tell me how you are using MindManager and Lotus Notes as your knowledge management tools or if you have some resources/tips to share, write to me by clicking on the "contact" link on the menu bar.  For those that e-mail me, I will send the maps and links to resources.

Continue Reading "I guess you enjoyed the Notes & MindManager webinar" »
MindJet just informed me that in the first week of sign-ups, over 250 people have signed up for the free webinar on how I use MindManager and Lotus Notes!

I'm still soliciting questions from people who are interested in using Notes and MindManager as a tool for getting things done and as a Personal Knowledge Management support system.

If you have any questions, please post them as comments to this post and I will do my best to address them in the webinar.



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

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) and you can download it here.

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?" »
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" »

Mindjet listens. I get my wish

Thursday, April 20th, 2006
Mindjet is a company that does more than innovate; it listens.

Do you think MindManager is an excellent tool for visual mapping of ideas? I do.

Do you think Lotus Notes is a powerful tool for collaboration and document management? I do.

In the next few days, I'll share some exciting news about the Eric Mack feature set, coming soon, from MindJet.

Stay tuned!

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" »

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?

My lists revealed

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005
Dean Wrote:
You may have done this already, but could you do a post on your GTD system? I’m curious about how you manage your lists, what those lists are, how many items you have on them, etc.
Thanks, Dean.
[I receive this type request from time to time, however, I've delayed a public response until now. I'm collecting these questions to use as topics for more detailed posts, once I launch eProductivity.NET - which I hope, will happen sooner than later.]

Dean, your email reminded me that this draft blog entry has been on my Someday/Maybe list for too long.

Some quick answers to your questions:

"how I manage my lists ..."

I've used many systems * to track my projects and actions, Dean. I keep coming back to my favorite - Lotus Notes. Notes allows me to integrate my action management system seamlessly with the rest of the systems that I use. Over the past 5 years, I've developed a custom template to help me manage my actions. Several of my clients use this eProductivity Template for Lotus Notes to manage their projects and actions as well.

"what those lists are ..."

My lists are rather simple. It was not always this way. Before I met David (when GTD was still known as MAP),  I used an action management system of my own design. Far from simple, it had many categories. Once I adopted GTD as a methodology for getting things done, I adapted my system, but I kept most of the categories.

Over the years, however, I've streamlined my systems and trimmed my lists down to the essentials shown in the screen shot to the right. My system allows me to create subcategories, so each major section can be expanded to reveal my list items by project, by functional area, etc. I review my lists and categories every six months or so. The subcategories change all the time, depending on what I'm doing. The top-level list has been stable for the last few years.

"how many items you have on them, etc. ..."

As of this evening, I have 3729 items on my lists. Yes, 3729. Too many for any sane person, but then ...   Don't worry, many are classified in subcategories under someday/maybe.

There are many other pieces to my "eProductivity system." As far as list management goes, this is a good overview.

It's been fun to reflect on this as I wrote this post tonight.

Thanks for your question, Dean!


PS. I'd like to thank everyone who has sent me emails or posted on this blog. I enjoy hearing from you and I will do my best to respond as time permits.

* I've used a variety of systems for list management, beginning with simple lists created in WordStar and then SuperCalc, both on CP/M. I designed my first action management system in dBase II - which brought sorting to list management. (In the mid-80's Tanny helped me rewrite my dBase app in compiled FoxPro for DOS.) In addition to these self-designed action management systems, I've used a variety of commercial systems - both paper-based and digital - including Time-Design, Goldmine, Palm Desktop, Act!, and Outlook.  As I mentioned earlier, I keep coming back to Notes. My systems continue to evolve and I change systems from time to time in order to evaluate new software. Currently, I'm experimenting with MindManager and ResultsManager. I hope to integrate these visual tools with the power of Notes. Stay tuned.
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:


Lotus Notes task delegation fields:



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

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)

Loyal Notes User and Loyal cc:Mail user buttons from Lotusphere 1995

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.

The Peloria Technology Team at Lotusphere 1995 (Bailey, Eric, Jennifer, and Tanny)
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!

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.


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.

Notes, OneNote, where to keep my notes?

Thursday, September 9th, 2004
I've been working with OneNote 2003 today. To help me evaluate the product, I plan to process a chunk of my current in-box (paper and e-mail) into OneNote. This will give me an opportunity to capture, process, and organize information from the multitude of inputs that I deal with daily.

[NOTE: Original date of this post was September 7, 2004. I am posting this again today, because a problem prevented some people from posting their comments. If you would like to post a comment and are having difficulty, please e-mail it to me using the link at the top of this page. I will post it for you.]

Image:Notes, OneNote, where to keep my notes?

A digital 3-ring binder

At first glance, the current release of OneNote appears to be primarily focused on individual note taking and research support, and I like what I see so far. For starters, I've copied some of the action contexts that I use into OneNote so that I can try it as an action management tool. I'm sure how OneNote will work out for me in this capacity. It appears that OneNote is more appropriately suited as an action support tool. Time will tell. I suspect that after I enter a quantity of items, I will think of a better way to organize this information, which will probably provide me with the opportunity to reenter everything again.

Rich storage

As a rich information capture, storage, and organization tool, OneNote offers many powerful features, including apparently unlimited folders, sections, and pages, along with web integration. Each page can contain rich objects, such as ink, images, MS Office files, and even audio/video. I've been doing this [storing rich objects in documents] for over a decade with Lotus Notes, so it was easy for me to apply existing work styles to the test.   (It's too bad doclinks don't work between the products.)

Things I look forward to...

As a capture tool, OneNote certainly makes the process of getting information into digital form easy. I'm sure that at some point, Tablet PC's will become available with a built-in scanner (like the HP CapShare) or a hi-res camera. When they do, there will be little need for a traditional notebook. Even in its 1.x iteration as a digital notebook, I see a lot of potential.

I wish I had a program like OneNote when I was a kid in school!

I think every student ought to have a program like this and know how to use it.

Collaboration in OneNote

I'm particularly interested to see how OneNote can be used in a collaborative environment. I still need to review the help documentation -- yes, I do read the documentation -- so that I can learn more about how this product can be used in this way.

OneNote contains some hints at future groupware capabilities. The menus currently show support for shared whiteboard (peer to peer) and, with a suitably configured SharePoint server, the ability to share files as a group. I'll probably invite Michael Sampson to join me for a shared OneNote meeting so that we can both see how it works as a collaborative tool.

But can it replicate?

A feature that I would really like to see, is some form of transparent replication between computers. My expectations in this area are quite high, however, as I have been spoiled by everything that Lotus Notes can do. I wonder if I can get OneNote to deposit its .ONE files into Lotus Notes so that I can have my information accessible everywhere? Hmmm, I'll have to work on that one...

OneNote isn't just for text or ink. It can record sound and video, too.

A neat feature of OneNote, that I know I will find useful, is the ability to record audio on my laptop while taking notes. The notes are synchronized along with the audio track. OneNote will allow me to click on the notes to hear the corresponding audio and vice-versa. I expect that this will be helpful useful for some of my extended meetings where I will both record and type my notes. After the meeting, as I clean up my typed notes, I can refer back to the specific audio segments as needed to insert any missing information. Years ago, I used to do this with VideoNotes.

You can search all of your notes

Like Lotus Notes, OneNote provides a full-text search capability, allowing you to search any of the notes that you have entrered, no matter where you entered them or in what form. (This includes the text behind digital ink.)  The search results are returned in a nice hypertext view.

Familiar look

It's really too early for me to comment in detail; however, I can say that I like the familiar (and proven) notebook tab metaphor. It appears to copy Lotus Notes's tabbed sections to provide a logical way to group related information together. Unlike Notes, however, OneNote provides additional levels: Folders, Sections, Pages, and even subpages. This make it easy to visually organize information hierarchically.


This may seem trivial, and there may even be a setting to adjust this; OneNote's folder tabs do not appear to automatically resize. I've become so used to this feature in Lotus Notes that to not have it seems like a gross oversight.

Image:Notes, OneNote, where to keep my notes?

Notes and OneNote

As I write this blog entry, I have to work hard to keep my references to [Lotus] Notes and [Microsoft] OneNote straight. I cannot help but wonder what confusion this will cause as customers refer to both products as "Notes." This reminds me of the VisiCalc days. When SuperCalc and then Lotus 1-2-3 appeared; folks still called these and other spreadsheets, "VisiCalc." Perhaps this is a fitting albeit unintended tribute to Lotus, for their pioneering work creating Notes in the first place?

The ultimate test - a group of students...

I've come up with a way to really test OneNote to see what works and what does not in a small group: I plan to include OneNote in the suite of software that I will be teaching to our U.S. FIRST Jr. Robotics team. The kids won't hesitate to tell me what they think and I won't hesitate to blog about it.

All in all, for a first generation product, I believe OneNote shows significant promise for digital note capture, organization, and retrieval.

I look forward to watching this product and others like it develop further!

Thank you's and more information:

A word of public thanks is due to Marc Orchant, for his willingness to answer my many geek questions late at night, by phone,  and by email. When it comes to all things Tablet, Marc's got a strong grasp on the technology.

If you who want to learn more about Tablet PCs and OneNote, be sure to visit Marc's blog, Michael Hyatt's blog and the TabletPC Buzz forum.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to retrofit my LiveBoard to turn it into a monster Tablet PC on which to run OneNote and MindManager.  If get that working, I'll blog about it.

Meanwhile, of you have any thoughts, feel free to post a comment.

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

It’s Empty, It’s Empty!

Tuesday, May 11th, 2004
"It's Empty, It's Empty, It's Empty! I never thought that would ever happen. Thanks!"

These excited words are from a client, who recently learned how to quickly and effectively process his overflowing e-mail Lotus Notes in-box to zero as a result of attending one of my presentations. Reading his email made my day -- and it reminded me of why I enjoy doing what I do at ICA.

The most valued thanks that I receive in my work is learning how something that I was able to do for a client has positively impacted their life and their business.

Today, Jason Womack inspired me to share summaries of a few comments that I have recently received:

Eric, I have changed my Notes Welcome Page to look like yours and turned off my "chime" when incoming mail arrives.  I am literally amazed at how much of what I NEEDED to get done was accomplished yesterday.  I handled every one of my new emails and have even cleaned up all the way back to Monday (which if you saw my in-box is pretty good).

The question that you asked that struck a chord with me was whether or not we really knew what projects we were working on, and what tasks we had to complete to move them along.

I have started to use the Notes To-dos to manage my projects. Now, everything I need is at my fingertips.

I have processed my in-box to empty, and I am now working from my To-do list. As I adapt to your methods (and customize them to my needs), I hope to reduce the stress in my life, and become more effective.

I was energized to think differently about how I use Lotus Notes.

It is so gratifying to hear from my clients, current and past, about how I have been able to help them increase their productivity and find the time to do the things that really matter to them.

It is a privilege to serve each and every one.

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.

Image:eProductivity Seminar in ChicagoImage:eProductivity Seminar in ChicagoImage:eProductivity Seminar in Chicago

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.

Image:eProductivity Seminar in Chicago

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!