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