User Story: Brandon Starr - "My inbox is almost always empty"

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.

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