Figure out your goals and fly towards them

As you take time to check projects off your list, do your final weekly review for the year, and update your goals for 2015, you'll want to explore the Horizons of Focus feature in eProductivity.

I hate to toot my own horn here, but this simple feature is a great way to figure our your long-term goals and keep focus and direction.

Look for this on the left side of your eProductivity Mail screen:

A screenshot of eProductivity's horizons of focus, as modeled on David Allen's bestselling book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

For how to set this up, see here.

Happy holidays, and here's to your success!

P.S. For a more in-depth look at what the Horizons of Focus are, see David Allen's discussion here.

"I’m glad I have Lotus Notes!"

Bet you never thought you'd hear those words.

From Matt Redard:

There's no better methodology out there for personal productivity than GTD, and eProductivity seems to be custom built to implement the GTD methodology within the Lotus Notes environment.

I was disappointed when I learned my new employer was on Lotus Notes as their e-mail/calendar system - now with eProductivity, I'm glad I have Lotus Notes!

Excellent product. Thanks for making it easier for us Lotus Notes people to get things done.

Matt Redard
Director of Servicing Operations
Nationstar Mortgage, LLC

What can I add to that? Maybe some poor, frustrated worker will Google "I'm glad I have Lotus Notes" or "I love Lotus Notes," just to see whether anyone has ever used those words in a sentence together like that in all of recorded history -- and stumble across this humble little post and be filled with hope that there can be something better.

This has been Nathan Paul writing for eProductivity. In case we haven't reminded you in the last 15 minutes that the brilliant and handsome David Allen, author of the world-renowned Getting Things Done, uses and recommends eProductivity as his favorite software tool for implementing his own system -- well, here you go.

In this recent interview by Anthony Gell, a smart business insider with a sonorous British accent, David elaborates on his "old as dirt" principles as adapted to our constant inflow of data (the eProductivity mention is at 29:17). Enjoy!

GTD on mobile?

Want GTD on mobile? This man has found a great answer that works with any device.

From a press release on BusinessWire:

Jason Spencer - media professor, broadcaster, and entrepreneur - wanted a way to use David Allen's Getting Things Done® (GTD) methodology, eProductivity™, and IBM® Lotus Notes on his mobile devices.

For months, Spencer has searched for a mobile personal information management system (PIM) "that works out of the box on iOS and Android devices," would be conducive to implementing GTD, and would be secure. He's finally found this PIM in a combination of IBM Lotus Notes, eProductivity, CompanionLink, and DejaOffice.

This is coming from a man who's tried virtually every PIM app on the market and who's owned 80 smartphones over the last 6 years. I do believe he knows what he's talking about -- that's why Eric works with him.

Original press release on BusinessWire: click here.

To read Spencer's recommendations, view his blog post here.

Hey everyone! We've got some new eProductivity stories from our customers, but we especially wanted to share one that we just got today. Terry Ash, a member of the IT team for the Surrey City Council in the UK, tells us how he was so impressed by eProductivity, even though he couldn't use it at the time, that he remembered it for 10 years(!!) until he was finally able to get it. He also relates how eProductivity helped him gain and maintain control over his enormous workload:

I came across David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology way back in 2003 and immediately became hooked. I avidly read his book and then looked about for a software solution with a view to automating the process as much as possible. Like everyone else, most of my work commitments arrived via email. I came across eProductivity which looked like it would fulfil all of my needs, with one exception. I wasn’t using IBM Notes as my email client. What followed was a number of years trying to get by using GTD with an alternate product. I could only look on enviously at all of eProductivity’s features not implemented in my solution.

Fast forward 10 years and I found myself as General Manager for a company providing IT services for Virgin Atlantic Airways. With a heavy workload and a very demanding boss I found myself sinking without a trace.  Fortunately for me, the company I worked for used IBM Notes and I remembered eProductivity and immediately sought it out. To see that eProductivity was still around after all this time spoke volumes and I immediately purchased a license. At last, I would be able put the GTD methodology to full use.

I spent a whole day pulling in all of my loose notes and reviewing my emails, ostensibly doing 3 months’ worth of weekly reviews all in one go. I immediately felt back in control.  The ability to look across my work commitments in one fell swoop was empowering. I gained confidence and was able to respond to requests for status updates and accurately agree deliverable dates for new work simply because I could see what my workload was as well as what it was going to be.

My Inbox was at zero for the first time in many years.

I’ve now used eProductivity for just over a year now and only wish I used it straight from the start back in 2003. Yes there are alternative solutions out there but eProductivity remains the only product to be truthful to the whole GTD methodology.

For me the guided weekly review is an absolute lifesaver and ensures that I don’t miss a thing. Once completed I feel ready to hit the ground running at the start of the following week. Being able to see what requires my attention according to my “Today” view is essential. Creating items with an agenda context and associating that item with a person meant I could easily remember to raise matters with that person when I next conversed with them. No more putting down the telephone and remembering I’d missed something.

There are so many more productive features I could mention, but don’t take my word for it: take a look at the eProductivity website for a full list.

For me the product continues to evolve and the support provided is second to none.  With a host of tutorials and community input, I strongly recommend eProductivity for IBM Notes as the GTD methodology tool of choice.

-        Terry Ash, UK eProductivity User, May 2014

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to recommend your product. Wishing you every success for the future.

We get stories like this all the time, but what really stood out to me personally was the fact that he remembered eProductivity for 10 years without even using it!

I think Terry's story also shows that, no matter how deep you're buried, the methods of Getting Things Done, which are built in to eProductivity, can help you get calm, clear, and in control. Finally, I'm touched by the fact that he thanked us for the opportunity to recommend our product. I can't remember when I've ever done that for anything!

For more about eProductivity's features, as Terry mentioned, see here.

Thank you, Terry, for allowing us to share your story here to inspire our readers!

If YOU have a story about your experience getting things done with eProductivity, we'd like to hear from you. If you're willing to allow us to share it on our blog/web site, please include that in your email.

Here's another powerful customer story from the customer service inbox. It's from a passionate and productive customer: Brandon Starr. It's longer than many posts we feature but it's rich with details and worth a read if you want to learn how other smart and productive people are getting things done with less effort with eProductivity for IBM Notes. Brandon also mention's a product that he uses called ActiveWords. We use this ourselves and, as Brandon mentions in his letter, eProductivity integrates with ActiveWords. In fact, it's one of our recommended resources. Thank you, Brandon, for sharing your story and for allowing us to share it here to inspire others.

I became interested in the GTD methodology around 2009, when my former boss introduced me (and the rest of his staff) to GTD. After some additional research I found the GTD website. I was looking for a way to maximize my production (and also admittedly to impress my boss). While browsing the GTD website, I stumbled across a link to a program that David Allen recommends called ActiveWords (if you don't have ActiveWords you're working much harder than you should be). For the next two years, I gained a better understanding of the fundamentals of GTD, and also refined they way I used ActiveWords at work and on my home PC. During this time, I was also using Outlook at work.

In July 2011, I transferred inter company to a department that uses Lotus Notes. At first, I was lost. Lotus Notes felt overwhelming with so many options and a much more complicated interface than Outlook. I felt like I needed to learn programming in order to effectively set up and use Lotus Notes. It took me 6 months before I found the To-Do's section of Lotus Notes. My calendar wasn't set up properly and I wasn't receiving notices for meetings, appointments,...or even for REMINDERS. Eventually our tech department found out my Lotus Notes was looking towards the wrong server and corrected it. Once they fixed my Calendar, I thought I might as well see if there were any ways to improve my Lotus Notes experience. After searching for ways to improve Lotus Notes, I wound up on the GTD site again. That's when I noticed eProductivity. At first I was a little tentative about downloading and altering my Lotus Notes. So I tried the free stand-alone version. I started manually migrating my emails into the eProductivity folder, and I set up a few projects and actions. I started to realize that eProductivity was basically using my Lotus Notes in a more efficient way. It was setting up To-Do's with contexts and due dates of my choosing.

After I became more comfortable with eProductivity, I decided to try the Integrated monthly pay option. I successfully downloaded and installed it, and then I no longer had to import my emails into became my mail template and main interface (BUT you can quickly and easily get to your normal Lotus Notes inbox). Then I really started to use it. I could drag an email and create a new task, project, tickler,...basically anything you might be familiar with if you've tried the GTD method. Even better, I could adjust the names of contexts and categories as I saw fit ("At Computer", "At Home", "Action Support", etc...). I could link new emails to existing projects so they would be together when I opened the project, and I could even link and open these projects and actions from my Lotus Notes Calendar. That's when I realized the power of eProductivity. It lets you shape and turn Lotus Notes into a simple GTD type system, or a full fledged granular interface. Lotus Notes only has To-Do's, and they are almost an oversight in Lotus Notes. Most people in my office have an inbox full of unread or even read emails that may or may not require action and the emails just sit in their inboxes (some people have thousands of emails in their inbox). My inbox is almost always empty, and the emails are assigned to relative tasks and projects, with due dates and assigned reminders.

It's great to have an empty inbox! But you can't get that way by just deleting emails and trying to remember them. You have to put those emails somewhere outside of your mind and into a system that will remind you that something needs to be done with a particular context, place, and/or time. eProductivity does exactly that, and in a very easy to use and bug free interface.

Also, eProductivity interfaces with ActiveWords!...the program I mentioned earlier that I found on the GTD website. I found no other Lotus Notes solutions that will help you keep your inbox empty and your mind clear.

As for customer service, anytime I've had a question about how to do something in particular, they've always been quick to longer than a day and sometimes faster. I found the how to guides and videos as well, and they've done a great job creating easily to understand tutorials that are readily accessible. I recommend eProductivity without hesitation, and it's great to know you can try it for free as a stand alone add in for Lotus Notes, without changing your Lotus Notes template, or you can integrate it and make it your Lotus Notes template. It's up to you, and they even have instructions for how to remove eProductivity if you want. They even thought of that! But my guess is that you want need to look at that tutorial, because you'll be happy with it.

Brandon K Starr SENIOR SPECIALIST • INSURANCE GROUP New York Life Insurance Company

You can learn more about integrating ActiveWords and eProductivity here.

If YOU have a story about your experience getting things done with eProductivity, we'd like to hear from you. If you're willing to allow us to share it on our blog/web site, please include that in your email.

Do you ever find yourself unable to make a decision about whether or not to move forward on something?

Have you ever asked yourself, "self, why did I waste my time in that way?"

I've done both. Many times.

As I continue to do research in high performance knowledge work and personal knowledge management, I've collected a number of tools and methods to help me make smarter decisions about what to do or not do.

Today, I'd like to share one of those tools with you. I call it my opportunity decision matrix,

When I was in graduate school and trying to run my consulting business and launch a software company and be a loving husband and father to my four daughters, I hit a wall. Something had to give. But what?

My good friend, Michael, gave me some sage advice that helped a lot. He told me to ask myself two simple questions to ask whenever I needed to evaluate options.

Here's how this works:

First define the "opportunity". Perhaps it's "Attend ABC conference". Next, evaluate that opportunity through the lens of two filters: opportunity and timing, like this:

Question #1. Is this the right opportunity?

If it isn't,  stop. Don't waste your time. Done. Decision made. If it is the right opportunity, then, I continue to question #2

Question #2. Is this the right timing?

Many times, I have a right opportunity but bad timing. It makes no sense to proceed unless both the opportunity and timing are right.

I have since expanded into an this 2x2 opportunity decision matrix:

This matrix has proven extremely valuable to me when I have a lot of hard choices to make and a new one shows up (like, "hey, do you want to fill in the blank.... ?")

For example, at a particularly busy point in my life, I got invited to speak at a conference. It was a great opportunity and I really wanted to go. However, it was not the right timing, so I declined. Having this simple two question matrix really helped me make a hard decision easy.  

The following year I was invited to speak at a different event. I concluded that it was both the right opportunity and  the right timing, so I accepted the invitation and the "Beyond Planning Conference" was born.

Sometimes, when it seems like I have many large or complex decisions to make, It helps me to pull out a sheet of paper and make a 4x4 matrix, like the one above. Then, I list of all of the options on my plate and one by one, and I write them into the appropriate quadrant.

It's usually quite a sobering experience.

Next, I cross off everything in quadrants 3 & 4 and move quadrant 2 items to my "someday/Maybe" list. This leaves me with only my quadrant 1 items, which I do.

By being ruthless in evaluating all of my choices against these two criteria, I can get unstuck quickly and feel good about the choices I make.

How do you make choices? What tools have you found helpful to make decisions?

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"GTD®" and "Getting Things Done®" are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. Lotus® and Lotus Notes® are registered trademarks of IBM Corporation.