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  • Five steps to implementing GTD within Lotus Notes

    Recently, Tunkel asked for advice on how to implement GTD within Lotus Notes:

    Has anyone gone through the complete process of implementing GTD on Lotus Notes? My selection of tools (company supplied) are Notes 6.0+ with a custom corporate mail template, and a Palm Treo 600.
    Jay's question is a good one and I get asked this question often. GTD is a powerful methodology, while Lotus Notes and the Treo 600 represent powerful technologies. It is only natural, therefore, that folks should want to combine these. The benefits of this combination are powerful. I know; because I have done this for myself and for my clients.

    Here are the steps that I usually recommend to my clients, who want to implement GTD within Lotus Notes:

    STEP ONE: Master the process of in-box management using GTD
    I have had many people ask me if they can simply install my eProductivity template for Lotus Notes to immediately become more productive. My response is always, "probably not." Without a solid foundation in the GTD methodology, the most a custom template might do for someone is make it easy for them to quickly get their in-box to zero by filing stuff out of sight and out of mind. This is hardly a productive advantage. On the other hand, if someone has a good grasp of the fundamentals of GTD and knows how to use the Processing and Organizing Workflow diagram from memory, then they are probably ready to proceed to step two.

    STEP TWO: Configure Lotus Notes for maximum efficiency
    There is a lot that you can do to optimize Lotus Notes for us with the GTD methodology. In my eProductivity seminars, I show my clients several things that they can do right away to save 10-15 minutes (or more) each day as they manage their email, actions, and projects in Notes.

    Here are some quick highlights:

    1. Change what you put in front of you
    Use the Notes Welcome Page to put actionable information in front of you. Many people overlook the fact that Lotus Notes has a Welcome Page that can be easily customized by the end-user. I'll try to post some screen shots, and perhaps a video clip on this soon.

    2. Organize your categories to help you manage your actions by context.
    You can do this quickly and without any changes to your current software. Many people in this forum have offered examples of the categories that they use. I started out with a long list, but over the years I have trimmed it down to suit my basic contexts. Here's my current list:
    • Projects
      Agendas
      At Phone
      At Home
      At Office
      At Computer
      On-Line
      Errands
      Waiting For
      Tickler
      Someday/Maybe
    3. Customize the Notes To-do form for action management
    You may want to take a quick look at my recent blog entry on this topic: Lotus Notes for Action Management

    4. Consider customizing your in-box views to organize your actions by context
    This step, and step #3 require a greater knowledge of Lotus Notes and many folks will not want to do this without some assistance. If you are looking for ideas and would like to see what I have done, there are some screen shots on my site.

    STEP THREE: Extend Lotus Notes to your PDA for maximum mobility
    There are many products that will let you sync your PIM information (E-Mail, Calendar, and To-Do) with your PDA. Cadenza mNotes has already been mentioned by one member of this forum. I have been using Pylon products since 1997 and I have been pleased. Either of these products will allow you to sync your PDA, including your Treo 600, wirelessly. There has been some discussion lately as to the merits of processing email on a wireless device. This morning, I added my two cents on this subject. Before I leave this step, I would like to share what I think is a powerful future of iAnywhere: In addition to a full web interface that I can access from anywhere, the iAnywhere product allows me to sync to multiple devices concurrently. This allows me to use any device that is convenient to me at the time. I live in an area with no cellular coverage, so this feature allows me to use my Tungsten C (or PocketPC) at home, and I can use something like a Treo 600, PocketPC Phone, or even a Blackberry on the road. I do not need to worry about keeping all of my devices in sync -- the software does that for me. Here's how I did this.

    STEP FOUR: Take a look at everything else that you do in Lotus Notes and simplify it
    It may sound contradictory for me to outline a number of technical steps and then to tell you that you should simplify. I have found that as I streamline my systems, greater levels of complexity are required in order to achieve the simplicity that I now enjoy. For example, I used to have to perform multiple steps to convert an e-mail into a project or an action. Now, I have an agent that does this for me with one click. I used to spend a great deal of time cutting and pasting between various Notes databases. Each time I did this, I had to cut; open the target database, paste, edit the subject and category, and save. Now, I can do all of the above using a filing agent that automates the process.

    STEP FIVE: Do a workflow diagram of how you work and look for areas that can be improved
    When I work with clients, I pull out a pad of graph paper and a box of colored pens and we map their workflow, taking a look at the areas of Information, Communication, and Action. Once we have this documented in visual form, we follow the lines to look for problem areas and areas that we can improve upon. Sometimes, technology is the answer; other times, a change in procedure (or habit) may be all that is required. In all cases, the benefits are significant.


    I do not want to overwhelm you into thinking that you have to do all -- or even any -- of the steps that I have outlined to be productive with Lotus Notes. (I do not get to post to this forum as often as I would like, and Jay's question pushed my hot button on several topics that I am passionate about.)

    For me, the above steps and tools have all had a profound impact on how I work, but none as much as learning the GTD methodology itself. I have been showing clients how to use technology to improve their productivity for two decades. I've been working with Lotus Notes for twelve years and using the GTD methodology within Notes for over ten. (Back then, it was called Managing Actions and Projects, or MAP for short.) I am always looking for new ways to push the envelope, and I will always consider myself a student, continuously looking for ways to increase my knowledge and experience so that I can better serve my clients.

    If you choose the things from my list that make sense to you, and start small, you will start seeing productivity gains right away.

    What started out to be a simple post has already turned into an essay, and I am just getting warmed up. I guess I'll save the rest for the future. I need to go and get some things done myself, like process my in-box.

    I plan to share more details and screen shots, tips, and tricks, and even some videos over on eProductivity.NET. The site is not yet ready for launch as I am still working on populating the content. If anyone wants to contact me off-list, I would be happy to send them an update when the site is ready.

    In the mean time, if you still want to learn more about how I personally use GTD within Lotus Notes,you can visit my web site. There is a narrative and a collection of screen shots that show how I have implemented many of the things that I have described here.

    I hope that this information is helpful to anyone who might be using Notes and GTD, and I wish you the best of success!

    Eric
    emack@ica.com

    _________________
    Eric Mack,
    eProductivity Specialist,
    ICA.COM, Inc.
    blog: http://www.EricMackOnLine.com

    eProductivity Template for Lotus Notes




    Disclaimer: I am not a GTD coach. The folks at The David Allen Company can show you how to use the GTD as a methodology for increasing your personal productivity. I have worked with each of them individually and they are wonderful folks. I am an eProductivity consultant. My specialty is in showing clients how to put technology to work for them.
    Last edited by Eric Mack; 08-23-2006, 08:20 PM.

  • #2
    Eric, I don't use this software, but I just had to tell you that I am always impressed with your willingness to share this kind of information. You must get lots of positive feedback from those who attend your seminars.

    Carolyn

    Comment


    • #3
      Good stuff, thanks!
      I just wish I knew how to customize the Notes To-do form. With the default installation of Notes 6.x it is easy to copy an email into a To-do, Memo or Appt, and the form has a field for category (context), but it's not as elegant as the form you use.

      I also think that the Welcome screen is a vast improvement over previous versions, but you can't group To-do's by category, which kind of defeats the purpose of putting them in categories if you're going to use the Welcome screen extensively. (You can display the category column, and sort on it, but it doesn't allow you to group by it (a'la Outlook)). Interestingly enough, it does group by Overdue and In-Progress...

      I'm one of the people that has asked about getting access to your eProductivity template, and I do agree that your customizations and tools shouldn't just be used to re-file your Inbox. I am just hoping they're made available to everyone eventually.

      - Todd

      Comment


      • #4
        Question

        I became interested in DAvid Allen's methodology when I read the Atlantic article. I have is two books (GTD I have as a set of tapes), I just bought a PDA (and love it), and I have read some of the on line content, but I don't understand some items.

        Such as "what is a tickler".

        Comment


        • #5
          Eric: Many thanks for your contribution to helping Notes users become more comfortable and hopefully productive. I very much look forward to eproductivity.net - perhaps you will consider offering a membership service to those not in a position to become a personal client but at the same time wanting to 'pick your brains'. Your knowledge is much appreciated!

          Todd: I have spent the last month trying to convert Notes to the same level of productivity I was used to with Outlook (2003 plus gtd add in). At first I was dismayed because I was unable to persuade my office IT department to change the to do form to the elegant example offered by Eric. I have however been able to make some minor changes which have helped a little. I use the welcome screen to bring up just my calendar and in box. I agree that it is frustrating that you cannot access the to do's by category in the welcome page but I have managed to get the default TO DO view changed to 'by category, collapsed' so when I hit the 'to do' bookmark I do at least get nice tidy lists similar to Outlook. I dont think this was a major change - it was done in a few minutes. Another improvement granted when I asked for it was the ability to sort by 'document type' in the all docs view. This is great for when I am doing housekeeping/filing/etc. Previously it was only possible to sort by date, size or sender.

          I use the launch pad and populate it with documents/databases and sites etc that I need to access during the day. I also have put into the start up folder all the windows I want open when I start Notes. I REALLY like this feature and am surprised that so few people use it where I am working. I also make use of the bookmark bar combined with the alt+B keyboard command.

          I think these features save me quite a few minutes a day and I am starting to truly enjoy discovering the potential of Notes. Overall it feels more integrated, more like a personal portal. Now when I return to Outlook in the evening my system feels a little 'disjointed'.

          Russell: there are good references to the uses of a tickler in David's first book and also quite a lot of discussion on this forum if you do a quick search. This post may be helpful. http://www.davidco.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=684

          cheers
          Helen

          Comment


          • #6
            Change welcome page todo view to categorized view.

            This is actually relatively simple to do if you have access to the Domino Designer program. You have to change a couple of framesets in the bookmarks.nsf file.

            • 1. Open the workspace, right click on Bookmarks on Local and select Open in Designer.

              2. Select Framesets and scroll down till you get to the MAIL-TodoA and MAIL-Todo framesets.

              3. Open each frameset and go to the properties of the frame.

              4. Change the value of the Named Element to (To do's\By Category).

              5. Save the two framesets.

              6. Right click on each frameset and select Design Properties.

              7. Check "Prohibit design refresh or replace to modify". If you don't do this the next time the design of the database is refreshed your changes will be overwritten.

              8. Close the properties dialog and designer.
            You may have to restart Notes. The welcome page will now display the categorized view for Tasks. These changes only apply to 6.x versions of Lotus Notes.

            Tanny...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Question

              Hi Russell. When you get through all the materials, you will know more about ticklers. Basically, a tickler is a reminder you set for yourself to address something at a future date. A tickler can be as simple as putting an entry onto a future date on your calendar.

              There are a number of different ways you can set up a tickler system. A paper-based tickler system typically involves setting up individual folders for the months of the year and the days of the month (a total of 43 folders - January through December and 1-31). If you have a piece of paper that you don't need now but want to be reminded about later, such as a flier for a concert in September, you can put it in the tickler folder for September. Then when September comes, you can move the flier into the folder for the particular day in September when you want to order tickets. When the tickets come, you can put the tickets and directions in the folder for the day of or the day before the concert. The idea is that you look at each day's tickler file to see what's in it, and then move that folder to the back of the stack. Basically, it's just a folder version of your calendar. This is a great place to put all that stuff that you need to see again but don't know where to put it.






              Originally posted by Russell
              "what is a tickler".

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Change welcome page todo view to categorized view.

                Thanks Tanny, but I guess don't have access to Designer. (When I right-click, I see Open, Open Replica and Open in New Window). Is this access something that a Notes Administrator would normally give out to users?



                Originally posted by tanny
                This is actually relatively simple to do if you have access to the Domino Designer program. You have to change a couple of framesets in the bookmarks.nsf file.

                • 1. Open the workspace, right click on Bookmarks on Local and select Open in Designer.

                  2. Select Framesets and scroll down till you get to the MAIL-TodoA and MAIL-Todo framesets.

                  3. Open each frameset and go to the properties of the frame.

                  4. Change the value of the Named Element to (To do's\By Category).

                  5. Save the two framesets.

                  6. Right click on each frameset and select Design Properties.

                  7. Check "Prohibit design refresh or replace to modify". If you don't do this the next time the design of the database is refreshed your changes will be overwritten.

                  8. Close the properties dialog and designer.
                You may have to restart Notes. The welcome page will now display the categorized view for Tasks. These changes only apply to 6.x versions of Lotus Notes.

                Tanny...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Using Templates in Notes

                  I would very much like to aquire your Notes template as I am struggling with using Notes with the GTD processes.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Change welcome page todo view to categorized view.

                    Originally posted by tfadams
                    Thanks Tanny, but I guess don't have access to Designer. (When I right-click, I see Open, Open Replica and Open in New Window). Is this access something that a Notes Administrator would normally give out to users?
                    The Notes designer tool is usually installed independently from the Notes client. You may want to check with your Notes administrator to see if they will allow you to have this. Perhaps a developer in your company can make a change to the template for you.

                    The beauty of notes is that you do not need to be a developer to use a custom template. End-users can quickly apply templates to their databases to get the features that they want.

                    I'm not sure what Eric's plans are for a public release of his eProductivity Template for Notes. It is a powerful tool for GTD with Notes.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Using Templates in Notes

                      Originally posted by Tony B
                      I would very much like to aquire your Notes template as I am struggling with using Notes with the GTD processes.
                      Feel free to contact me off-line to discuss your specific needs. Here is a more generic response with answers to questions that you and others have asked.

                      Presently, I'm only providing the template to current clients; I do this in order to make sure that the productive benefits of using the template can be realized.

                      While my eProductivity template for Notes can be installed in less than 5 minutes, (and it is fully reversible with no impact on data), some companies IT departments limit the use of any templates -- even when the productive gains are measurable and substantial. The key to success here is to get a champion involved that has both the interest and the authority to make things happen. Perhaps you are this person.

                      I'm constantly amazed that companies will make significant investments in collaborative technology and then severely limit the potential benefits by greatly restricting how this technology may be used or who may use it. I am working on ways to deal with the "political" issues to help individuals easily deploy my eProductivity template for Lotus Notes. (I feel a rant coming on, so I'll stop there. I plan to post a more in-depth blog about this soon.)

                      I am also exploring alternatives to the template, including the possibility of a "how-to" PDF for those individuals that want to customize their Lotus Notes Environment using only the built-in capabilities. (I'm currently collecting names of people, who may have an interest in this.)

                      If you are a decision-maker and can influence the deployment of the eProductivity template or procedures in your organization, we should talk. Perhaps we can work something out.

                      Thanks for your interest, and happy 4th!

                      Eric

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Using Templates in Notes

                        Originally posted by Eric Mack

                        I'm constantly amazed that companies will make significant investments in collaborative technology and then severely limit the potential benefits by greatly restricting how this technology may be used or who may use it. I am working on ways to deal with the "political" issues to help individuals easily deploy my eProductivity template for Lotus Notes. (I feel a rant coming on, so I'll stop there. I plan to post a more in-depth blog about this soon.)

                        I am also exploring alternatives to the template, including the possibility of a "how-to" PDF for those individuals that want to customize their Lotus Notes Environment using only the built-in capabilities. (I'm currently collecting names of people, who may have an interest in this.)


                        Eric
                        Eric, I am most certainly interested in this pdf how to document with regard to gtd/lotus notes and companies unable to or unwilling to use customised templates. Please add my name to your list of those interested in such a document and let us know if this is still in the plans.

                        From reading your blog and seeing how many pies you have fingers in I will completely understand if this is a someday/maybe Really admire your energy and achievements!

                        kind regards
                        Helen Crozier

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          re: Using templates in Lotus Notes

                          Thanks for your interest, Helen. if you've signed up at eProductivity.NET, then you will be notified automatically of developments with the template or the PDF.

                          Most of my attention (when I'm not working with clients) is on the template; yet even that is driven by current client work. (I've been using the template for the past 4 years; works great for me.)

                          The eProductivity PDF document is presently hovering around someday/maybe with an occasional leap into current actions.

                          As I work with clients who use Lotus Notes, and as I further enhance the template for their needs and mine, I keep a running list of topics to cover in the PDF.

                          Be sure to scan this forum. There are several helpful posts from people who have shared their experience on how they have made vanilla Lotus Notes work for them.

                          Best of success to you,

                          Eric

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            re: Using templates in Lotus Notes

                            Hello everybody....I am a user who has to use Lotus Notes at office......but need help in modifying it to implement GTD methodology.

                            Eric's site helps........(actually frustrates!!.....so much possible, but no closer to getting it!!)....but its far easier to modify Outlook than to modify Notes....or so it seems.....

                            Eric, any progress wiht your pdf?? Am sure there would be many people out there who would love to use GTD with Lotus Notes.


                            Please help!!

                            Please.

                            Thanks a ton for all your assistance here.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Lotus notes Template

                              http://www.openntf.org/Projects/pmt....ery=OpenNTFGTD

                              New experimental release of GTD using Lotus Notes.

                              Check it out and contribute!!

                              Comment

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