Coaching my clients new levels of workplace performance is my favorite thing about what I do. Sometimes it's hard, but hearing what they say afterward makes it all worth it:

Clearly, I wasn't working as efficiently as I could have.  Now, I'm creating greater results, with less effort

I had no idea such basic shifts in the way that I think about my work and how I use my tools could have such a profound impact on my performance, and my life. Thank you!

The last time my inbox was this empty was 5 years ago -- on my first day of work as CTO

I feel so much better about my work.

Sometimes, though, I run into something puzzling. After coaching a busy executive and hearing them express (over several weeks) the immense relief it's brought them, I'll bring up the subject of training the rest of their team.

Sometimes, they'll hesitate, then say, "I'm not sure they need this as much as I do . . ."

This used to stump me. I've seen my client's teams, and usually they're just as overwhelmed as the executives they answer to. My clients have gotten clear, lasting relief, so bringing the same to their team seems like a no-brainer to me. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone were so effective? Why not train the rest of the team?

Building people instead of buying them

Here's my philosophy on coaching: when I hire someone, I want to get their full value. To do that, they have to grow; to grow, they have to be fed.

That's why it boggles my mind when companies invest in the latest systems and tools for their employees, then refuse to invest in training them. The team is left to flail about and figure it out for themselves, always struggling just to survive in their job: overwhelmed, over-stressed, overwrought, and overboard.

As an employer, I don't want my people working that way. I want them to be effective, confident, executive, and efficient. Of course, I could simply hire someone with all the skills I want, but those tend to be very rare and very expensive; besides, they may still be unfamiliar with my tools and processes.

Honestly, I'd rather build my people.

One employee, then and now

A few years ago, I hired an intern, a recent college graduate new to the workplace. When I hired him, he knew relatively little about effective self-management and knowledge work. Most of his experience had been with someone else telling him what to do and how. He wasn't a "knowledge worker."

Now, though, he is an executive: maybe not yet in title, but in what he's capable of achieving.

He didn't get there by osmosis. I've trained him myself over time.

I could have spent my time on other activities. I could have let him sit with his current skill set and simply answer emails and do clerk-work. I could have been content to not get the full value of his potential—but I wasn't.

I chose to unleash his potential, for his benefit and mine, by investing in and training him.

Has it been worth it? I'd certainly say so.

This isn't my first time, either: I've repeated this many times, with many people over the past 30 years, and gotten tremendous value as a result.

Get the value

Maybe that's an extreme example, but it illustrates the point. You hire someone to create value for you. Even if they come in with skills, at the minimum they need to learn how to work with you and your organization to create value.

"Value" can be measured in a number of ways:
- How quickly you get things done
- How much of your effort is directed towards the right things to do
- How confident and focused you are at work
- The speed and precision of your decisions
- Your ability to quickly process inputs and recalibrate

The job of you and your team, together, is to create value (all of the above and more) for the organization. So the question again is: what if you grew value in them?

But what if you lose them?

A senior manager once told Zig Ziglar that he didn't want to waste money training his people only to have them leave. Zig's response was, "The only thing worse than training someone and losing them, is not training them and keeping them."

I take the same view. You can train your people and make them more effective, confident, executive, and efficient . . . or, you can simply stay at your current accomplishment level. Think about it.

There's more to the story of the young intern I hired. I knew from the start that our time together was limited—a year or two, at best. So why would I invest so much in him?

Again, because I wanted to build value in him, for as long as I have him. I know it's been better for him and me.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that coaching and training work, and my clients and I have seen it work hundreds of times. This includes training I've given, received, and seen others give and receive. Some of my clients have even gone out of their way to measure how well it works (ask me for the impact report from PUMA).

I've seen people become more confident, relaxed, de-stressed, in-control, effective, and efficient after only a few hours of training. I've even come back to those people weeks or months later and found they're still working effectively. In most cases, they've even built on what they've learned and moved beyond it!

I've had the privilege of working with some forward-thinking managers and executives who've chosen to invest in their people. Because of that, they and their teams have gotten far more value out of their work. Most of them aren't using any more time or energy than they were before, but they're still getting much more done and much more effectively.

The client's decision . . .

To me, the decision to train people and build their value is unmistakably clear. It was clear for my client as well: once he saw the value, he decided to extend the training to other members of his team, and greatly appreciated the benefit of it.

. . . and yours

So will you be the manager that doesn't invest in training their people, leaving them to work with their current skills until they leave you?—Or, will you invest in them and get the value of their full potential for as long as they stay? The choice is yours.

When you're ready to invest in your people and get greater value in return, give me a call. I can help.

@EricMack


LI: Eric Mack



Robot hand I.eP.jpgI really enjoy consulting and coaching executives and other professionals, because it allows me to make a difference in the lives of others. There's nothing like that moment when their eyes widen and they say "I get it!" or "That's cool!"

I also get to experience this same thing with students in my Intro to Robotics course. This course isn't just a bunch of computer science geeks doing geeky things: I use it to prepare my students to work well, both in their personal and professional lives, by teaching them essential life skills.

I know teaching life skills through robotics sounds far-fetched, so I'm going to prove it below.

Robotics life lessons thumbnail.jpgIn this course, one of the exercises I teach is the After-Action Review. This consists of five questions:
1.        What was supposed to happen?
2.        What actually happened?
3.        Why did it happen?
4.        What did we learn?
5.        How can we do better next time?

On Monday, as I lead them through an After-Action Review, I wrote the answers to the final question on the board (as you can see on the left). The action under review was the students' preparation for their final in-class competition (which involved designing and building a robot in teams), but the answers they came up with also translate to work and life in general.

Note that these are not in order of importance or priority. They're all lessons learned. Here's what my students had to sayplus applies to best practices for life:

Continue Reading: "Best Practices for Robotics Competitions, Work, and Life in General" »

My first paid consulting job convinced me that technology would solve all our problems. Over 30 years ago, I was writing flight-planning programs with a 1-kilobyte* programmable calculator, and it was incredible: calculations that took hours by hand were done in a few minutes.

What I didn't see then was the whole picture. Technology is (and always has been) only part of the equation. My client and I had to put our knowledge together: his knowledge of the math needed for flight-planning, and my knowledge of how to write that into a program.

What I've discovered is that machines can never do our thinking for us – even though advertisers have been claiming they can for decades. Exhibit A:

Want to buy a brain - old computer ad cropped, smaller.jpg

"Its vacuum tubes will make up your mind for you far faster than your gray matter can." Somehow I'm reminded of modern ads claiming that technology can decide what's important to you.

What I found out
During my graduate research on how people work. I saw that even people with the best technology could work very ineffectively. At the same time, some people could use outdated equipment – even as simple as pen and paper – and create great value for their organization. Obviously, technology alone didn't make people better workers.

It became clear that technology is useless if people don't know how to work with it – and more importantly, use it to work together.

Based on my experience and research, I came up with this equation as a model for the effectiveness of individuals and teams:

Value (V) = Knowledge (K) x Methodology (M) x Technology (T)

Technology is literally only part of the equation. There are two other factors:

  • Methodology: the habits, rules, and practices that people follow to get work done. In other words, how people work.
  • Knowledge: what you know, who you know, and what they know

Let me go back to the flight-planning example:

  • K = my client's knowledge of the mathematics needed for flight-planning
  • M = my process for translating that math into programs
  • T = the 1-kilobyte programmable calculator

Without all three, our operation wouldn't have worked and I would've been out of a job.

A kindred spiritMark Mortensen headshot.jpg
I was delighted to come across a very insightful article that Mark Mortensen of INSEAD recently wrote for the Harvard Business Review: "Technology Alone Won't Solve Our Collaboration Problems." He emphasizes "a simple truth: it’s not what technology you’ve got, but how you use it" and includes three specific examples of how to work more effectively with today's technology.

I'm glad to find someone who recognizes "it’s less important which technology you choose and more important that you align it with how people do work." Mortensen acknowledges the importance of method and knowledge as well as technology. See here for his article.

Technology Alone Wont Solve Our Collaboration Problems.jpg

Three factors to success
The interaction of knowledge, methodology, and technology is critical to any organization's success and the value of any individual's work. This is what I've brought to my consulting clients over my decades in the field, and I've clearly seen the results: it works.

To share your thoughts on this topic, connect with me on social media (below). When you're ready discuss how I can help you and your organization manage the balance of KMT, click "Contact" in the upper-right. I'd love to chat!

@EricMack
LI: Eric Mack



*For the younger crowd: 1 kilobyte is about 1/16,000,000 of the memory of a standard iPhone 6.

Image credit:
"Buy a Brain" image by DigiBarn [CC BY-NC 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/)]. Changes made: image rotated clockwise 1 degree; article text cropped out; additional border coloring added. Scanned by DigiBarn from Popular Science, May 1949. Link to original image: http://www.digibarn.com/collections/mags/popsci-may-1949/brain1.jpg

Email is not the problem: how we use it is.

Email frustration

I've been working with electronic messaging (email, etc.) in one form or another for over 30 years. Back in 1992, I (successfully) sold a server-software product that promised to help people deal with the "flood" of 40 emails a day! Much of my executive coaching business has revolved around helping professionals manage their email (many receive up to 400 a day).

I've had a front-row seat to the rise of email along the whole way. For many people, it's grown into a monstrous beast. A couple years ago, McKinsey & Company found that workers spend up to 28% of their day writing and reading emails. Inboxes fill up over lunch breaks. We're all guilty of being too quick to send to others whose email is just as out-of-control as ours.

I think that's at least half of the issue: who's creating the problem. I also think we can definitely find ways to address this together.

Continue Reading: "Email is not the problem: how we use it is." » Email late night.jpg

This article points out a very important truth that seems to be slowly gaining recognition in the business world: resting is an important part of producing.

HBR uses the topic of late-night emails to dive into the issue of how we work when our work is always accessible. I remember professionals of my father's generation grumbling that work could reach them at home by phone -- and the issue has grown exponentially since then.

The real problem is not the means of communication, but how a lack of agreement on how to use them and when. As Maura Thomas insightfully points out in this article, after-hours emails (not to mention texts, calls, faxes, Facebook messages, etc.) can easily create a culture where everyone feels they're expected to be connected at all times.

More often than not, this is driven by leaders who feel that they have to do more to keep the company moving forward -- but by doing so in a way that involves their subordinates, they tend to create pressure to keep up.

Here's  a key quote on this mentality:

The (often unconscious) belief that more work equals more success is difficult to overcome, but the truth is that this is neither beneficial nor sustainable.

The bottom line is that being "always on" never leaves you time "off," and that hurts everybody.

Click here for the article from HBR.

Best,

Eric

@EricMack
@eProductivity
FB/eProductivity
LI:EricMack


More on email:
Image credits:
"Up All Night" by MisterGuy11 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via DeviantArt.
The other day, I came across a blog post from a long-time Notes/Domino application developer. A "decent number of users" at his workplace are about to be migrated from Outlook to Notes 9.

Why would this ever happen, since so many people seem to like Outlook better than Notes? Does the migration even matter?

Honestly, I don't think these switches matter nearly as much as many people think they do (Microsoft's drum-beating notwithstanding). Here's why: many companies have migrated to Outlook after their employees have screamed to kill Notes (or, more often, after they were bought by an Outlook company), and you know what happened?

Continue Reading: "Moving from Outlook to Lotus Notes (or vice versa)? It might not actually matter, and here's why" »

Why you don’t have time to save time

It's because you're working like it's still the Industrial Age, not like it's 2015.



In other words, you're using an outdated definition of what it means to be productive:

Productivity

Noun
[obsolete]
1. The process of producing more output with less input: "working harder."

[modern]
2. The art of accomplishing more with less time and less energy, achieved by learning new ways of doing things.

Which one would you rather work by?

Continue Reading: "Why you don't have time to save time" » The Workspace is a view that shows all of your IBM Notes apps and databases -- Mail, Notebook, Contacts, and much more -- like so:

A sample of the IBM Lotus Notes Workspace view, showing Mail, contacts, Notebooks/eProductivity Reference Databases, Address Book, and DominoBlog website database

I've been astonished to find that many Notes users don't have access to the Workspace by default. Most of my life life in Notes is lived out of this view, and I can't imagine working without it.

Continue Reading: "The most useful view in IBM Lotus Notes that you're not using" »

4 Steps to Recover from Email Overwhelm

iPhone screen showing empty inboxSuffering from an overflowing inbox? You're not alone.

Email has been a pandemic in the business world. I've sat with executive coaching clients and seen the emails creep in -- a new message every minute or two. Everywhere I've gone to consult and train, email has been one of the top complaints. It's insane.

Maybe your email is out of control right now (in fact, if you're still reading, I assume it is!) Here are 4 steps you can take to recover and put your inbox on cruise control:

1. Drag all emails that are 30 days or older from your inbox into an "Old Email" folder.

If you haven't responded in 30 days, there will probably be no consequence to ignoring them. This gives you a manageable inbox to work with.

Continue Reading: "4 Steps to Recover from Email Overwhelm " » I've coached a lot of Lotus Notes users, and hardly any of them even knew that Notes has bookmarks! Maybe because it's hidden under a really weird name, as you'll see below.

1. Turn on bookmarks


To do this, open the "View" menu and select "Dock the Open List." I know that doesn't make any sense, but I just deliver the mail.

Turn on IBM Lotus Notes Bookmarks

Continue Reading: "Three steps to use Bookmarks in IBM Lotus Notes" » Does it seem like there's a lot of activity in your office, but the important stuff doesn't get done? When your coworker is three weeks late giving you that report, do you wonder, "What have they been doing?"

This is a situation I've seen at many of the companies I've consulted for: a lot of stuff gets moved around, emailed, minuted, and checked off, but there's very little accomplished.

To understand this, let me tell you a story:

Pretend I'm a manager, and I walk into my office full of bright, eager employees and announce we're going to build a bridge. They all set off right away to put in 10-hour days with smiles on their faces, merrily getting ready to make the best bridge they can build.

Can you think of a more productive, ideal workplace? Everyone's happy and working hard.

There's just one problem: no one knows what kind of bridge we're building. One person's working on a little stone arch, and another's designing the next Golden Gate. We all have different ideas of how wide and long and high to make it, using what materials, and even whether to make an arch or suspension bridge or something else.

There's a crucial question that hasn't been answered: what are we trying to accomplish?

I've found that a lot of problems are solved by asking this simple question. Having a shared, clearly-defined idea of where to head (not to mention how to get there) prevents a lot of wasted time and effort, and also creates a shared sense of purpose and camaraderie.

This is for you personally as well. If you don't have a clear idea of what you're aiming for, you'll have a hard time trying to hit it.

So, do you and your team know what you're doing?


P.S. eProductivity was designed to nurture this kind of thinking. For example, when you create a new Project, eProductivity asks you, "What's the successful outcome? Describe as if already done; what would that look like?" This is meant to encourage you to think in terms of what will be true once you've done this thing. This approach helps keep you focused; plus, it automatically gets your brain thinking about how to achieve that outcome. Here are a few of my favorite shortcuts -- these will let you instantly create new Calendar entries and eProductivity Projects and Actions from any window or tab in Notes.

Here's how to do it:
For Projects: press the Alt key, then type C M P
For Actions: press the Alt key, then type C M A
For Calendar: press the Alt key, then type C M C

Edit your new document, then save and close. It's that easy. Your Mail file doesn't even have to be open.

If you're using "vanilla" Notes without eProductivity
, here's what to do instead:
For To-Do's: press the Alt key, then type C M T
For Calendar: press the Alt key, then type C M C

Also, in case you didn't know, here's on of the best keyboard shortcuts ever: to create a new email, hold Ctrl and press M.

Happy productivity!

To discover even more Notes keyboard shortcuts, see here: Ramp up your workspeed with the most powerful key on your keyboard

How much is saving your time worth?

Time is the one thing you can't beg, borrow, or buy. That's why I so appreciate JT's story -- he recognizes time as "the most valuable resource of all" and credits eProductivity with saving it.

In his own words, here's how he started getting things done in IBM Lotus Notes with eProductivity:

My company uses IBM Lotus Notes for email and calendaring. Lotus Notes v9 has evolved a lot compared to prior versions of Lotus Notes, however, it still provides what I would say are rudimentary To-Do list management and bare bones email processing. The volume of email hitting my inbox made it impossible to stay on top of my incoming email, which meant I was missing important To-Do's or actions that I needed to take on some emails because they were lost in the volume of emails where I was only cc'd and didn't need to take any specific action. I found myself constantly re-reading emails to remember what they were for, whether or not I had already actioned them or not. All-in-all, I was not very productive managing my incoming email.

The volume of email hitting my inbox made it impossible to stay on top...Now, my email inbox is emptied by the end of each day.

I knew I had to do something different to keep up with the ever growing number of emails passing through my inbox. I knew there had to be a better way and that surely someone had written software to address these pain points. This quest led me to find the excellent book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. The GTD system made a lot of sense to me, but I struggled how to implement these GTD concepts using Lotus Notes.

After googling around a bit, I found the eProductivity for IBM Notes Mail product, which has forever changed how I manage my email. Today, my email inbox is emptied by the end of each day by utilizing the GTD system in eProductivity. I drag emails to the left to create actions for future To-Do's and drag items to the right that I want to keep for future reference. Finally, I delete any email which I don't need to perform any action and do not need to keep for future reference. Using the Today view, I get an overview of my meetings scheduled for the day and/or any actions that I have due that day.

One of the best features of eProductivity IMHO, is the "Waiting for" action. I send a lot of emails where I need someone else to respond or take some action on my behalf. Before eProductivity, I relied on my memory to remember what I had asked for and whether or not I had received a response within the expected time frame. With eProductivity, I click one button that says "Waiting for" when I send the email and a future action is automatically created as a reminder that I'm waiting for something to be responded to.

Getting all of these actions and To-Do's out of my head and into the eProductivity system has allowed me to manage my email my more productively. I hope one day that my company adopts eProductivity company wide, but until then, I'm happy to pay out of pocket for eProductivity because it saves me the most valuable resource of all, my time!

JT

Thanks for sharing your story, JT!

If you'd like to share how eProductivity has helped you, select "Send feedback" from the eProductivity menu:



Happy New Year!

-Nathan

You start the new year with energy, verve, and a resolve to Get Things Done! But how do you make sure those things keep moving forward week after week?

Here's the most critical habit to make sure you don't drop the ball: review your commitments regularly. Ideally, this would be done every week.

There are certain steps you can follow for a successful Weekly Review. These will help you empty all your sources of input, review your existing material to make sure it's current, and get inspiration from your goals and ideas.

David Allen's ideal steps for a successful Weekly Review are listed below:

David Allen's Weekly Review steps, as built into the Weekly Review Coach in eProductivity, the premier solution for getting things done in IBM Lotus Notes

These will work with any system you're using (even pen and paper), but I've also specially built them into eProductivity's Weekly Review Coach.

A few definitions

If you haven't been introduced to the Getting Things Done method, a few quick definitions may be in order:

Capture Tools: Any place where stuff collects, such as your inbox, email, and voicemail.

Tickler: Files for stuff you want to be reminded of at a later date. For example, you could have a tickler item labeled "Decide whether to attend the 2016 Olympics," with a due date of four months before the event.

Waiting-for: Just what it sounds like -- anything that you're waiting for from someone else.

Someday/Maybe: A list of things you want to do and could do, but can't, shouldn't, or won't do now.

Why the Weekly Review is so powerful

Following the checklist above will help you

  • Empty all the stuff that you've collected
  • Decide what you need to do about all that stuff (if anything)
  • Review everything in your world at least briefly so nothing falls through the cracks
  • Get inspired by your creative ideas

Personally, my favorite part of the Weekly Review is going through stuff I haven't thought about in a while, and it hits me -- "I could do this fun, exciting, creative thing!" I can't always do that thing right away -- often, it has to go on my someday/maybe list -- but it's energizing just to have those ideas!

David Allen on the Weekly Review Coach



To use the Weekly Review Coach

If you're using eProductivity, open the eProductivity menu and select "Weekly Review Coach" to get started!

If you're not using eProductivity (and you have Lotus Notes) click here to learn more and start a 21-day trial.

More info

Read more about Someday/Maybe

See here for a good two-sentence definition of Waiting-for

Read more about the Tickler File

Read more about the Weekly Review Coach

Here's to your success!

Here's how I took some of my own advice from one of last week's posts on wrapping up the year.

I started reviewing my own Horizons of Focus, and from there working down to my own goals and projects for the year. This got more and more tangled and complex, until I finally realized that I needed some kind of filter. One set of goals and objectives for my whole life wasn't enough: I had to split everything in my world (and my Horizons of Focus) into different roles.

Each role would have its own complete set of Horizons of Focus: mission, vision, values, purpose, goals, objectives, areas of focus, projects, and actions.

After thinking about it, I realized that in my life I fill the following roles:

Husband
Father
Professional
Educator
Individual

Once I was clear on my roles, I started to define my Horizons of Focus for each of them, using a table like this:

A sample of how I've organized my roles in life according to David Allen's Horizons of Focus model

I experienced great clarity by starting at the top in this way -- having these broad categories made it much easier to sort everything in my world.

Later, though, I realized that "Professional" could (and should) really be broken down further into five smaller roles:
Consultant
Entrepreneur
Author/Speaker
Platform Builder
Manager

This has made it much easier to organize projects, actions, and information related to my work.

I've struggled over the years to define my roles while keeping them manageable. One year, doing this same exercise, I wound up with 35 different roles -- and trying to live by them over the following months nearly drove me insane.

Another year, I decided to keep things super-simple and just stick with Work, Family, and Personal -- but this turned out to be too simplistic, and I often got stuck on where to file things.

This year, however, I think I've finally come up with a good number of roles: small enough to be manageable, but large enough to encompass everything I do.

I thought it was very helpful to map these out in my eProductivity Horizons of Focus documents; then, once I'm done defining each role, I'll work down to my projects and actions for each one, which will be recorded in eProductivity.

If you start with your Horizons of Focus, you'll probably find it much easier to brainstorm everything in your world that needs your attention. Plus, if you want to record Projects and Actions straight from eProductivity Reference, you can turn on the option to include the New Action and New Project buttons in the Reference database.



I hope you can get clarity on your roles this New Year so you can do what you need to get done!

Eric

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Getting perspective

Not just any perspective -- I mean seeing your life at every level, so you can know just what you're doing and why.

In his bestselling book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, my friend and collaborator David Allen describes six levels of perspective, which he calls the "Horizons of Focus:"

David Allen's Horizons of Focus, explained briefly - also available in eProductivity, the premier GTD add-on for Lotus Notes

Think about these, write them down, and put them in a place where you'll review them regularly. They may change over time, but they'll help keep you on track.

Most people tend to get stuck on the difference between the Horizons of Focus and Areas of Focus, so I'd like to explain this level a bit more.

A word about Areas of Focus

Here are some examples of this particular level:

Personal

  • Your relationship with your spouse
  • Your kids
  • Volunteering
  • Your hobby

Professional

  • Designing new sales campaigns
  • Special projects for your boss
  • Keeping certifications up-to-date
  • Continuing education

Areas of Focus are essentially the major categories for your projects. Reviewing these regularly, along with the other horizons, will help you make sure that each one is moving forward.

How to set up your Horizons of Focus

You can do this in Word, Evernote, your IBM Lotus Notes Notebook, or even with a pen and paper. All it really takes is some thought and a capture tool to help you organize your thinking.

Think about your ultimate purpose in life. How can you move towards that in the coming year? What projects can you take on to advance your aims?

If you're using eProductivity, the Horizons of Focus tools are already built right in -- plus, eProductivity's Weekly Review Coach makes it easy to easily review your horizons regularly.

To set these up in eProductivity, here's what you'll need:

  • eProductivity Reference -- click here for more info
  • Click here for how to set up the horizons in eProductivity Reference

Want to learn more about planning your horizons?

For more detailed descriptions of the horizons, see this article.

Credits

I first learned the Horizons of Focus from my friend and collaborator, David Allen, author of the bestselling Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. and creator of the GTD methodology. David was personally involved in the testing of eProductivity, an add-on for IBM Lotus Notes that I designed to help people get more done with less stress.

This is the end of my four steps to close out the year. I hope they've made you more confident that you're prepared for 2015. These tips have been based on my experience with GTD over the years, and I look forward to sharing more of what I've learned in the future.

Happy New Year!

Eric



Part 1: Shred your lists!

Part 2: Review your future conversations

Part 3: Get inspired with your creative ideas

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

Hopefully, you have a list somewhere of things you'd like to do someday. As I mentioned in Part 1, these might be great ideas, but the right time hasn't come along to do them.

The term for things like this is "Someday/Maybe," and this is one of my favorite lists to review for the new year. This is typically where I keep my creative, fun, outrageous ideas -- and the end of 2014 is the perfect time to read through it and see what I may want to do to wrap up this year or kick off the next.

What's a "Someday/Maybe?"

Again, this list is not:

  • A black hole where things go to die (that's what your trash is for)
  • Your procrastinate list
  • For stuff you'll never actually do (also trash)

Someday/Maybe is your list for things you want to do, but can't or shouldn't right now.

You're not committing to do them, only to review them.

For example, my personal Someday/Maybe list includes things like:

  • Build a working laser cutter
  • Add a second business course to my teaching schedule
  • Attend the Macy's Thanksgiving parade in New York

These are all things that I want to do, actually could do, but won't, can't, or shouldn't do now, for whatever reason.

Again, I'm not committed to do any of these, only to review them regularly for ideas and inspiration.

Your own collection of creative ideas

Hopefully, you have a similar list that you're incubating and reviewing from time to time -- because someday, maybe some of those Someday/Maybe's will become things you can and should do now.

As you kick off the new year, you might discover that it's time to bring some of those projects to life. There are few things more energizing than remembering something you wanted to do and realizing the time is now.

Go back over your Someday/Maybe list and ask yourself:

  • Can I do this now?
  • Should I do this now?
  • Do I still want to do this?

If you can and should do it now, make it a project.

If it seemed like a good idea at some point, but no longer inspired or energizes you, throw it away!

(By the way, if you're using eProductivity, the Someday/Maybe list comes built-in. Just look on the left).

Don't have this list?

If you don't have a Someday/Maybe list, then maybe it's time to make one! As you come across objects or ideas in your world that represent things you'd like to do, but can't or shouldn't right now, add them to your Someday/Maybe list.

(or, if you really want go pedal to the metal, you can do a full-on David Allen-style processing of everything in your world -- see here for the map).

This list can live in Evernote, notes on your phone, a Word document, IBM Lotus Notes To-Do's, eProductivity, Outlook Tasks, or even paper -- ideally, somewhere easy for you to see and review.

Credits

The concept of "Someday/Maybe" was taught to me by my friend and collaborator, David Allen. David is the author of the bestselling Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity and creator of the GTD methodology. David was personally involved in the testing of eProductivity, an add-on for IBM Lotus Notes that I designed to help people get more done with less stress.



Part 1: Shred your lists!

Part 2: Review your future conversations

Part 4: Get a high-altitude view of your life

Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4

Now is a great time to review what you want to talk to others about -- close those conversations as you close the year.

Hopefully, you've got a list of things you need to discuss with others -- for example:

A sample of the agendas list in eProductivity, to help track everything you need to discuss with others in Lotus Notes

It's also good to review your list of what you're waiting for others to give you -- if there's anything overdue, that'll probably need a conversation soon.

Your list of "waiting for's" could look similar to the list above: individual items sorted by person.

What you really want to say

This list of things you need to talk to people about is called your "agendas." In case you need convincing to keep a list like this, picture these two scenarios:

Scenario 1

Ryan comes by your desk to ask for something. You remember there's something you wanted to talk to him about, so you desperately try to remember what it was, dig through your papers, and wind up telling him you'll send an email.

Scenario 2

Ryan comes by your desk to ask for something. You remember there's something you wanted to talk to him about, so you pull out your agendas list and find it.

See what I mean?

Agendas and waiting for's all in one list

If you're using eProductivity, there's also a nifty little features called "Agendas & Waiting For." It shows you all your items sorted by person. With this list, you can simply click on a person's name to see everything you need to talk to them about and what you're waiting for them to give you:

A

Over the next few days, I'll post my third and fourth steps to close out 2014. Happy New Year! Eric

Credits

I first learned the concepts of agendas and waiting for's from my friend and colleague, David Allen who is the author of the the bestselling book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. David was also extensively involved in the design and testing of eProductivity, an add-on for IBM Lotus Notes that I designed to help people get more done with less stress. In fact, it's the tool he uses personally and recommends. Learn more here.



Part 1: Shred your lists!

Part 3: Get inspired with your creative ideas

Part 4: Get a high-altitude view of your life

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

My favorite way to get energized for the holidays is to look back on what I've accomplished this year.

Unless you keep your whole world in your head, you've got a list somewhere of what to do. Now is a great time to take that list (or collection of lists) and tear it to pieces! -- after you've reviewed its contents, that is.

As you look back on your old lists, you'll find four kinds of stuff

  • Stuff you need to finish
  • Stuff you'd like to do someday
  • Stuff you're not going to do
  • Stuff you've already finished!

Here's how to deal with each one, step by step. Along the way, you'll make two clean, shiny, new lists to guide you in 2015.

1) Stuff to finish

First of all, don't panic. If this is well and truly something you must get done by a certain deadline, here's what to do:

  1. Think about the very next thing you need to do to accomplish this
  2. Put that very next thing on your list (not the list you're reviewing, but your brand spanking new New Year's list)

Take one step at a time, and you will get it done.

If you're using eProductivity, make a new Project (or update the old one). You're one step closer to a fresh new year.

2) Stuff for someday

You could, should, or would do this, but right now you don't have the time, resources, knowledge, or deadline. What do you do with these?

Get ready for a high-tech term:

"Someday/Maybe"

This is not:

  • A black hole where things go to die
  • Your procrastinate list
  • For stuff you'll never actually do

This is your list for things you want to do, but can't or shouldn't right now.

In eProductivity, this comes built-in. Just look on the left!

3) Stuff not to do

Let's face it: you will never actually do this. It's time to recognize that, cross it off, and move on. Shred it, delete it, crumple it up -- it's not going to stress you anymore.

4) Stuff you've finished!

Read your list and realize, "I did that. I'm finished. It's done." Just soak in that accomplishment.

The feeling you got when you actually finished it was the sundae -- crossing it off your list is the cherry on top.

In eProductivity, just click the handy "Mark Complete" button. It's not shaped like a cherry, but it should be.

Smell that fresh, clean New Year

Once you're done, your trash is full, your desk is clean, and your lists are fresh. You are one organized captain of your work world. Now go have a happy holiday -- you've earned it!

(Hint: all these steps work just as well for your personal stuff!)

Over the next few days, I will share 3 more tips to help you wrap up the year. Meanwhile, I wish you the happiest of holidays!

Eric



Part 2: Review your future conversations

Part 3: Get inspired with your creative ideas

Part 4: Get a high-altitude view of your life

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.

As the creator of eProductivity, I want to share a few examples of how eProductivity makes my task management in IBM Notes EASY.

In case you are unfamiliar with the approach to knowledge work that I use, it's called GTD® which is the shorthand for "Getting Things Done®" from a a book by my friend and best-selling author and productivity expert David Allen. (I have worked with David for 20 years David has greatly influenced my eProductivity software; it's the productivity application that he uses and recommends.)

David Allen identifies the fives stages of workflow as:

Continue Reading: "How I use eProductivity to quickly create and manage my Projects and Actions in IBM Notes" » Many eProductivity users have told us that they have participated in eProductivity/GTD meetups.  What's a meetup, you ask? It's a an informal event where enthusiasts gather to talk, swap tips and tricks, and learn more about a topic they are passionate about.

20090120_LS09_BOF408_EricAndDavid320x240.jpg

In the case of eProductivity or GTD meetups, these events are often initiated by end users. Some are private - hosted in house - but most are open to everyone.  Eric Mack, our founder and the creator of eProductivity has participated in several eProductivity and GTD meetups around the country, including at IBM's annual Lotusphere conference in Orlando.

Are you in or near Boston?

We are considering arranging a meetup in Boston in early October and we'd like to know if you are interested and would attend. We are waiting for a host and will share the details once we know more.

Are you somewhere else in the world?

We'd love to hear from you; perhaps we can help facilitate getting Lotus Notes users together in your area.

Your Next Action
is to let us know of your interest. Be sure to tell us if you will be in or near Boston in early October as that will be the first event.

"GTD in email is crushingly powerful"

At last week's DC Lotus User Group meetup, Jack Dausman was introduced to eProductivity. Jack has a history with GTD and Lotus Notes, and at the meetup presented by Eric Mack, he had his eyes opened to how eProductivity artfully marries the methodology (GTD) with the technology (Lotus Notes).

Jack shared a number of thoughts about this on his blog, including this choice quote:

The rush of IM, the Google Wave (which has obeyed its eponymous sinusoidal form to rise and fall) and the crowd surfing of Facebook mail, all suggest that there is something that must be done to fix email. Eric's resurface of Lotus Notes, though, exposes that fallacy for the working professional. Change how we use email, and the din subsides. Using GTD in email is crushingly powerful and moves beyond managing email to building productive relationships through email.

Read the full post

Meet eProductivity Creator, Eric Mack, in DC

newsletter-dclug-logo.jpgEric is a recognized expert on high-performance knowledge work and specializes in organizations that use Lotus Software. If you'll be in the Washington, DC area between November 15-20, you'll have two prime opportunities to hear Eric speak.

On Wednesday, November 17, Eric will present to the DCLUG (DC Lotus User Group). Details here. Attendees will receive free GTD resources, plus there  will be a drawing for free eProductivity software!

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.

newsletter-kmworld-logo.jpgThe next day at KMWorld, the annual conference on knowledge management, Eric will moderate and present on a panel discussion titled "Future Focused Formulas for Enterprise KM Success". He will be joined by Art Murray, CEO of Applied Knowledge Sciences, Inc., and Box.net's VP of Business Development, Karen Appleton. This session will take place on Thursday, November 18.

Both sessions offer you the opportunity to gain from Eric's expertise on knowledge management as well as personal and corporate productivity.

kmworld-2009-eric-mack.jpgEric at KMWorld 2009

Join eProductivity creator Eric Mack and special guest David Allen, creator of the GTD® methodology, as they share best practices gleaned from over 30 years of combined experience using Lotus Notes.

Inspired by over 200 audience questions from April's Getting Things Done with Lotus Notes webinar, these hard-hitting podcasts dive into the secrets of being productive with Lotus Notes.

eric-mack-david-allen-in-studio.jpg

Join Eric and David as they share their insights on how you can get more done with Lotus Notes.

Subscribe to the special podcast feed so that you don't miss upcoming episodes!

See all Episodes |  Subscribe | itunes16x16.jpg Subscribe with iTunes

In Episode #2, topics addressed include:

  • How to stay productive when you're feeling overwhelmed by the volume of incoming information
  • How to organize all your "collection buckets" - phone, paper, email, etc.
  • GTD and cloud computing
  • Calendar vs tickler file - what goes where?
  • GTD and the tyranny of the urgent

Episode #2 Details:
Length: 18:56 minutes
File Size: 17.3MB

David and Eric live = Resounding Success

Last Thursday, we held an IBM employee-only "Getting Things Done in Lotus Notes" webinar with eProductivity's Eric Mack and featured guest, GTD® creator David Allen. Judging by the 725 IBMer registrants, the 200 questions asked during the session, and the multitudes of follow-up emails that attendees sent us, the webinar was a resounding success.

The webinar even generated the Tweet of the Month! (trademark pending, of course...)

DAWebinarTweetoftheMonth.png

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

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

GTDWebinar_DAQuote.pngDavid delivered a passionate explanation of the Essentials of GTD. He spoke on the vital importance of a trusted system and reminded us that you can only feel good about what you're not doing if you know what you're not doing.

For those who had never heard of GTD, it was a eye-opening experience (based on their comments afterwards) and for those of us familiar with GTD, it was a welcome refresher.

Eric then showed how to set up Lotus Notes for GTD. First, he demonstrated how regular Lotus Notes can be an effective GTD list manager, and then he showed how using eProductivity takes Lotus Notes to the next level. The best part? It was all stuff people could put to use right away.

Plus, all attendees received a free resource kit which included an eProductivity Reference database full of great GTD articles from David's library.

First, let me say a big thanks to everyone who attended the webinar. Your participation was appreciated and it's been great to hear from so many of you about how the webinar benefited you.

Let me also say thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about the webinar.

Another opportunity to hear David and Eric live:
On April 28th, you have another opportunity to experience David and Eric's extensive knowledge of productivity.

This time, the free event is open to the general public but spaces are filling up quickly. So before the event is booked out, make sure to tell all your friends who use Lotus Notes and could use more time & less stress in their lives!
Register for the webinar

DavidAllenEricMackProfilePicturesCombined.jpg Now, in case you're still deciding if this is the webinar for you, here's the planned agenda:

Agenda

  • Your Personal Productivity Equation
  • Essentials of GTD
  • How to set up Lotus Notes with GTD
  • David's Productivity Toolkit
  • eProductivity™ for IBM Lotus Notes
  • Getting Started with GTD and Lotus Notes
  • Q&A

As you can see, this is a must-attend event! Register today.

To get automatic updates on eProductivity's webinar events, you can sign up for the free eProductivity newsletter.

Photo of the Month

eProductivity creator Eric Mack and his wife, Kathy, at a St. Patrick's Day party long ago...

See more in the March eProductivity Newsletter.

The latest version of eProductivity (1.81) contains many new features. Among them are two experimental views that you can use to create sidebar widgets or floating windows based on the popular eProductivity 'Today' and 'All by context' views.

Here's a preview of just two of several new Sidebar widgets for eProductivity that you will soon be able to use: the Today view and the All by Context views.

The new The new

These widgets are now available in eProductivity 1.81. These sidebar views are persistent - it does not matter what Notes application you have open - you can always review your Today list and your actions by contexts.

If you would like to try this on your own system, here are the steps I am currently using to accomplish this in Notes 8.5.1

Continue Reading: "How to enable the 'Today' and 'All By Context' views as sidebar widgets in Lotus Notes 8.x" »

Welcome to to the eProductivity Blog!

The Inside.eProductivity blog is now underway.

We’ve got lots of great content in store for you. Look for:

  • Candid reviews of eProductivity from independent bloggers
  • Walkthroughs on using eProductivity’s many features
  • “First Looks” at new feature releases
  • eProductivity in the media
  • Opportunities to contribute to Inside.eProductivity

And of course, much more.

Welcome!

Copyright © 2001, 2002-2016, ICA.COM, Inc. - All Rights Reserved. eProductivity™ and ICA are trademarks or registered trademarks of ICA.COM, Inc.
"GTD®" and "Getting Things Done®" are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. Lotus® and Lotus Notes® are registered trademarks of IBM Corporation.