Do you have a hard time finding things in Lotus Notes? Do you know when to search a folder? A view? Is it in your mail file or your archive?

As I coach people across MAPMG in workplace performance skills I'm frequently asked if there is an easy way to find things in IBM Lotus Notes.

There is; in fact there are many easy ways to search in Notes. Here are a few of my most used methods:
  • Within a document or view, type CTRL+F or click the binocular icon in the action bar at the top of the screen and follow the prompts
        Image:TIP: 4 quick and easy ways to find what you are looking for in IBM Lotus Notes
  • You may sort the contents of a view by clicking on any column header that has a small up/down triangle next to it. This will refresh the view according to that column. From there, start typing what you are looking for and Lotus Notes will display a dialog box and move the selection to the first line beginning with the letters you typed.
        Image:TIP: 4 quick and easy ways to find what you are looking for in IBM Lotus Notes
  • In most views, you can also click on the Magnifying glass icon or click on "View\Search" to display the search dialog. Give it a try!
        Image:TIP: 4 quick and easy ways to find what you are looking for in IBM Lotus Notes
  • Another useful method to find something is to use the built-in Global Search tool in eProductivity, which makes it easy to search across your mail, archives, and Lotus Notes Reference or Notebook files in one click. No more opening each mail or archive file and searching it individually. Click. Search. Find.
        Image:TIP: 4 quick and easy ways to find what you are looking for in IBM Lotus Notes       
        Note: eProductivity is available without charge to all IBM Notes users at MAPMG. Learn More.

I hope you find this quick tip helpful. If there is a tip you'd like to see or share or if I can be of service, please let us know!

GTD: How to prevent an overload of "due today"

[Today's post comes from Nathan Paul of the eProductivity Team]

After learning David Allen's Getting Things Done  from Eric Mack for a year, I had a problem: on any given day, I had way more things marked as "due" than I could possibly get done. I dealt with it by taking all my incomplete items at the end of each day and changing the due date to the next day -- you can imagine how well that worked out.

To do list.png
...times 20, but better-defined

This continued until I realized something: I was putting due dates on a lot of things that weren't really due that day. This not only overloaded my to-do list, but gave me the extra mental stress of filtering my tasks, asking "Is this really due today?"

Here's how I solved this: by distinguishing between "due" and "like to do."

Continue Reading: "GTD: How to prevent an overload of "due today"" » 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" » The high cost of multitasking

Multitasking is not working smarter -- just the opposite, in fact.  This a quick, colorful infographic from and Fuze shows how multitasking actually slows you down and even decreases your IQ!

Click here to view. 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 Imagine if, instead of taking a few clicks to do a task, you could to it in a few keystrokes? I'm sure you're all familiar with the shortcuts for copy (Ctrl+C) and paste (Ctrl+V).

Imagine doing those manually instead of using the shortcuts, every time. Now are you getting a sense of how much time those little keystrokes save you?

How to use the Alt key (a.k.a. the "magical shortcut to darn near everything" key)

Hold the Alt button.

Notice that this does two things:

1) causes certain letters in your menu items to be underlined, like so:

Image:Ramp up your workspeed with the most powerful key on your keyboard

2) causes numbers to appear over your first nine action bar buttons.

While holding the Alt key, you can press one of those numbers or underlined letters. For example, holding Alt and pressing T will open the Text menu, like so:

Image:Ramp up your workspeed with the most powerful key on your keyboard

See how the k in "Strikethrough" is underlined above? That means that pressing K will activate the Strikethrough formatting.

To recap that example:
Press Alt+T+K
Start typing
You get this: Stricken-through text

Try it! (To turn off strikethrough, just press Alt+T+K again).

The secret Master Shortcut Formula

To access any function on any menu, just hold the Alt key and press the underlined letter of the thing you want to do. This also works with any numbers that pop up when you hold Alt. Go ahead and explore -- find the shortcuts for your favorite functions.

Hint: Alt+W is really handy.

Have fun!

-Nathan 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" »

No tricks. Here’s a GTD treat for you!

gtd-workflow-diagram-200x156.png Here's a productivity power tool for you. Courtesy of The David Allen Company, we now include the latest GTD Workflow diagram within eProductivity.

Continue Reading: "No tricks. Here's a GTD treat for you!" »

Do you have the latest version of eProductivity?

A year ago, we added a "check for updates" feature to eProductivity so that you will be informed as new updates become available. eProductivity will periodically check for updates (you may disable this in the preferences settings) and notify you when an update is available.

You can also check for updates manually at any time. Just click eProductivity-button.png on the action bar and select check-for-updates-menu-item.png. The dialog will show you the version of eProductivity that you are using and the latest version available for download.


If the dialog shows that an update is available, click the get-update-button.png button to go to a webpage with more information.

Note: If the check for updates option does not appear on the eProductivity menu, they you are probably using a really old version of eProductivity. If so, go to the download page to get the latest version.

One great way to use eProductivity Reference

Ken, an eProductivity user, sent us a tip in response to this week's Tip article. The article discuss the kinds of information that are great to store inside eProductivity Reference.

He wrote:
The single most useful item in my eProductivity Reference is called "model numbers" and has a list of toner cartridge numbers, car VIN's, vacuum cleaner bag sizes, lawn mower model number, furnace filter sizes, battery sizes for gadgets, etc. I refer to it often when out and about. If motor oil is on sale, I can look up what rating my snowblower needs, if I have an @errand to look for tires, I can look up my tire sizes, and on and on. I built this list over the course of years by entering info I used to look up and carry on a piece of paper and then throw away.

I think this is a great example of what eProductivity Reference can be used for and definitely worth sharing. Thanks, Ken!

A great day for a Weekly Review

Today's a great day for that Weekly Review you've been holding off on.

David Allen calls the Weekly Review, "the secret sauce of GTD". Let him inspire you further...

Friday is a popular choice for the Weeky Review because you can then relax over the weekend without being nagged by thoughts of unfinished work. So if you've been procrastinating on your Weekly Review, what are you waiting for? :)

Spend a couple hours, review your lists, and get clear for the weekend.

2 Tips for Organizing Digital "Reference" Items


Everyone has reference items. It's the non-actionable information you'd like to hang on to. Perhaps it's a business contract that you need to refer to as you complete a current work project. Or maybe it's the manual that came with your car - that might come in handy someday!

So how do you organize and store your reference items?

Well for most people, the answer is they default to a system of semi-organized chaos. Papers get randomly stacked on desks or get shoved into drawers. Emails are left sitting in the inbox. Chaos is the norm.

Despite what some people claim, this is not an effective system.

Two reasons people leave their reference information in a chaotic state:

  1. They've never implemented a more effective system (for whatever reason)
  2. Their system is too hard to maintain

The good news is, there are simple things you can do to improve your handling of digital information.

With that in mind, here's two tips for improving your process of organizing digital reference materials.

1. Organize the Information that is Current to You

If reference information is current to you - meaning you'll probably need it sometime soon - it should be organized into categories for fast access. I find up to 1 year to be a good guideline for "current".

(You'll need a digital tool that supports your categorization needs. Here are some tips on choosing a digital filing system.)

By 'organize information into categories', I mean you take the time on the front end to think through how you might use this reference information, and then assign it to an appropriate category (or multiple categories, as needed). Although this has an initial time cost, it pays itself back quickly because:

  • You can find it faster
  • You can easily see what kinds of information you have for a certain topic

For instance, I keep a category of blog post ideas - any ideas that cross my path get filed there. Then, when I sit down to write a post, I look at my list of ideas to rapidly get inspired (hopefully!).

If I don't take the time to categorize my current reference information, I tend to dump it in the "General Reference" category and it becomes pretty meaningless.

But for those items that truly fall into "well, someday I might need this"...

2. Create a 'Catch-All' Location(s)

You probably frequently run across information that is interesting, but you have no idea how you might use it in the future. Put this information into some kind of a 'Catch-All' or General Reference location and don't feel like you need to organize the information further.

This is where digital information really shines. If you have full-text search, you can find just about anything you need in the General Reference category with minimal effort. And because hard drive space is so cheap, you can store lots of files and easily purchase more space as needed.

For me, an email archive can function as a Catch-All category - I just pour email into there without attempting to categorize it. It's somewhat filtered - I only archive email that I think might have future value, however small - but beyond that, it's just a mass of unsorted email. To find something, I can use the powerful search features built into Lotus Notes, Gmail, and other email systems.

Just remember, if you need to access specific info in the Catch-All location(s) on a regular basis, it's probably in the wrong place. Put it in a distinct category.

So what are tips you have for organizing your digital reference items?

Key GTD Terms and Definitions


Every week, we send out an eProductivity Weekly Tips article. If you like this article, consider subscribing to the Weekly Tips newsletter.

You can also take a look at past articles in the Tips Archive.

Without further ado...

Key GTD Terms and Definitions -

This week we're taking a brief intermission from our series on the eProductivity Today View (Part 1 | Part 2).

Instead, we'd like to present a concise list of key GTD terms that appear inside eProductivity. David Allen's Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology is the foundation on which eProductivity is built. GTD is used everyday by millions of men and women around the world and empowers them to be more productive.

Having a strong grasp on the following GTD terms and concepts will assist you in using eProductivity to your greatest advantage.

Action: a single, physical, visible step to get something done. (e.g. call Fred/draft proposal/wash dog)

Project: Any outcome that requires more than one action step to complete

Sidebar: A key GTD best practice is to have clearly defined options when you are choosing what to do. With eProductivity, we support this by giving you the ability to distinguish between “Next Actions” (your next, physical, visible action steps that are project related or not) and “Actions” (for capturing project related future, sequential, or dependent actions that would follow the Next Actions.)

Context: The locations that work can be done in. Can be geographical (e.g. At Office) or it can be resource-based (e.g. At Phone)

Waiting For: Commitments you are tracking that are dependent on someone or something else

Tickler: A system for tracking date-specific actions in the future

Someday/Maybe: Items that you might want to do in the future, but have no current commitment to complete

Reference: Items that do not require your action, but have value as information to hold on to

Weekly Review: A weekly walk through of your commitments so that everything stays clear and current, freeing you to be creative

The GTD Workflow Diagram
The Workflow Diagram is another building block to working productively. It's worth studying closely:

GTD workflow diagram thumbnail

The GTD Workflow diagram is available as a free download from the David Allen Company Store.

Archiving e-mail as you file, effortlessly

In addition to filing an email into a folder, eProductivity can be configured to allow you to file an email into an external database. This has the added benefit of getting inactive messages out of your mail file which should make your Notes administrator happy.

eProductivity enthusiast, Paul Gardner, has just written about how uses the external filing features of eProductivity to streamline his filing and reduce the size of his email database in one easy step!

Link: Archiving E-mail with eProductivity

Update: Oops! Paul's blog is off-line. Here's a summary of what was on Paul's blog from 2009 updated to include some of the new features we've added since then...

Two filing destinations added to the email disposition dialog
- NEW in Version 3
We've added two new options to make it even easier to get processed email out of your in-box. Save yourself time and make your Notes administrator happy by using the new 'File to Archive" feature to file email directly into an archive and get it out of your mail file. If you have set up external mail files in your preferences you can also use the new "File to External Database" feature to file messages in the external mail file of your choosing. These tools will help you keep your mail file small and fast which will make your Notes administrator happy too.

How to file messages from your inbox into an archive or other external filing database:
From your e-mail in-box, Select the message(s) you wish to file and click on the 'Folder' button in the action bar. You will now be able to choose between folders in your mail file and an external filing database. If you select a filing database you will be able to choose a destination folder (or create a new one) to file your message(s) in.

       Image:Archiving e-mail as you file, effortlessly

File messages into an archive or other external filing database effortlessly as your create new Projects or Actions:

Now, when you create Projects and Actions from emails in your in-box, two new buttons will appear on the disposition dialog. You can now choose between folders in your mail file and an archive or external filing database. If you select an archive or external database you will be prompted to choose a destination folder (or create a new one) to file your message(s) in.
       Image:Archiving e-mail as you file, effortlessly

To view messages your external filing databases:

Click on the filing database entry in the navigation pane. You will then be presented with a list of folders from which to choose.
       Image:Archiving e-mail as you file, effortlessly

Creating additional filing databases:

You may define up to five external filing databases. Follow the same procedures above.

NOTE: A few things have been added since this post was first written:
1. You can now have up to 10 external databases
2. You can now drag and drop from email into an external database
3. You can now click on an external database to open it from within eProductivity
eProductivity enabled Archives
- NEW in Version 3
You can now "eProductivity enable" your Notes mail archives to save you time when working with your archives. For starters, we have redesigned the navigation of the archive to include the same eProductivity navigation and features available in the mail file for a consistent and familiar look and feel. The Archive navigator provides fast access to your most frequently used information everything is where you need it, when you need it. When you are working in your archive, folders are conveniently available on the left and the search window is always open at the top to help you find what you are looking for, fast. The views have been redesigned to display important and relevant information, such as the date archived and other important information. Your eProductivity enabled archive will allow you to view archived Projects and Actions including their linked items - something you can't do in a standard Notes archive.  We've also included new tools to make it even easier to move Projects, Actions and even entire folders between your mail file and your archive -- and back! If you (or your Notes administrator) has every accidentally archived incomplete Projects or Actions, we've added a new recovery tool just for you to allow you to import incomplete Project(s) / Action(s) / To Do's from your archive back into your mail file. Again, with one click. These features simply do not exist in standard Notes. Finally, the new eProductivity Global Search button is now available from within the eProductivity enabled archive allowing you to search your mail and archives and more with a single click.  All of these features work in concert to turn your Notes mail archive from a dead end unused mail repository to an extended part of your personal information management system.


With eProductivity version 3 you can select a message from your e-mail inbox or folder and file it to an external filing database, quickly, easily. You can also file an email into an external archive database while you are processing emails into projects and actions -- with no multi-step cutting and pasting!

Why use an external filing database?

There are many reasons you may want to file your messages to an external filing database. First, by filing messages outside of your e-mail database you can keep your e-mail database small, fast, and well under your message quote. Did I mention that a small mail file is a fast one? Second, you can file infrequently needed messages into a central database that you share with others; think of it as a workgroup filing system for messages. Now, all of the messages related to a person or topic can be centrally filed in one place to be accessed by anyone you designate. Finally, if you work with an assistant or partner, you can quickly move a message to the other person's mailbox. The elegance of this feature is that the other person can then reply to the message as if they had received it directly in their in-box. (If you had forwarded it they would not be able to reply with out a lot of cutting and pasting as you would be the sender of the message.)

How I use the eProductivity filing feature:

In this example, I have configured five filing databases in eProductivity:

1. ICA E-Mail archive -
This is where we file all business e-mails by client, vendor, or contact. (A-Z within each section)
2. eProductivity Support Mailbox -
I use this entry to move support messages that people send to me into our support team mailbox. (So next time you think you are clever to email me directly, know that I simply click and move it to the support team.)
3. Kathy Mack -
My wife and I move messages between our mail files, particularly if email arrives in one mailbox that was for the other person.
4. Mack Family e-mail archive -
Here is where we file all family e-mails by person, A-Z.
5. Wendy Mack -
My daughter and I have a number of projects in common; I frequently receive emails that I want Wendy to handle as my assistant. With a simple click I can move these to her mailbox to review, toss, or handle. This can be a great feature for working with an executive assistant as long as you are both in agreement on how it will be used.

OK, does this sound interesting? Here's how you can set this up for yourself.

How to enable a database for filing with eProductivity:

Step one:
Create or identify a database that you want to use as your filing database. This could be an existing mail database, an existing mail archive database, or a new database that you create. the only requirement is that the database design be based on a mail template. (Any mail template is fine)

Step two:
Copy a database link to he clipboard for the database from step one. Do this by selecting the database that you want to file into and selecting FILE, DATABASE, COPY AS LINK. (In Notes 8, use FILE, APPLICATION, COPY AS LINK)

Image:Archiving e-mail as you file, effortlessly
Now, with the database link for your target database on the clipboard, we will configure eProductivity to allow you to file into this database.

Step Three:
Open the eProductivity preferences by opening your mail file and then clicking on the Image:Archiving e-mail as you file, effortlessly button and then selecting Image:Archiving e-mail as you file, effortlessly from the pull down menu. Navigate to the GENERAL\FILING tab. PASTE the database link into the location field for 'your mail external database'. Next, enable the check mark 'Show on Main Navigator'.

Image:Archiving e-mail as you file, effortlessly

Click the Save and close button Image:Archiving e-mail as you file, effortlessly to save your preferences.

Close and reopen your mail file for these changes to take effect

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.