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 " »

4 Steps to Recovering from Email Overwhelm

Suffering from an overflowing inbox? You're not alone.

By all indicators, email overwhelm is a pandemic in today's business world. In the recent eProductivity satisfaction survey, 97.3% of respondents said they receive a large amount of work-related emails. Thankfully, 87.1% of those people said eProductivity makes it easy to get an empty inbox, and our goal is that eventually, everyone will say it's easy.

In any case, perhaps you're someone whose email inbox is out of control right now. Here are 4 steps you can take to recover and set your inbox on cruise control.

Continue Reading: "4 Steps to Recovering from Email Overwhelm " »

Subcategories in eProductivity Reference

I saw this helpful post today by Garrett Wolthuis on how to create subcategories in the Lotus Notes Journal.

What you may not know is that you can also create subcategories in eProductivity Reference. You just need to use the same Main Category\Subcategory format in the 'Category' field of a Reference entry and voila!, subcategory created.

I whipped up a quick screenshot example from my own eProductivity Reference to show this...

eProductivity Reference subcategory example

Of course, eProductivity Reference is a free download.

Tip: Prune your mailbox for faster performance

Pruning your Lotus Notes mailbox is a good idea because a mailbox bloated with many outdated items is usually a slow mailbox. You can avoid this performance hit to your Lotus Notes (and consequently, eProductivity) with some simple maintenance steps.

Step 1. Delete or Archive Unneeded Email Attachments
Email attachments, like those pictures of the cute puppy dog or the LOLcat circulating through your office email, can take up a lot of space. So it's a good idea to peridiodically go through your 'All Documents' view and delete or archive all the unneeded attachments. A easy way to find the largest attachments is by sorting on the 'Size' column.

When you locate unneeded attachments, the fastest way to deal with it is to delete or archive the email itself. But if you only want to get rid of the attachment, you can edit the email and do what you need with just the attachment.

Sorting the All Documents view by the Size column

If you have attachments that you want to keep but don't want them taking up space in your mail file, consider parking them in an eProductivity Reference database (you do have eProductivity Reference set up, right?).

Continue Reading: "Tip: Prune your mailbox for faster performance" »

Agendas ease the headache of remembering

Ever sat down for a conversation with someone and suddenly you can't remember what you wanted to discuss? Not a lot of fun, not to mention potentially stressful.

Equally frustrating is when you walk away from a meeting and get the nagging feeling that you forgot to discuss something important.

So next time, rather than enduring this kind of unnecessary headache, do yourself a favor: write down your topics ahead of time. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel and at how much more efficient meetings are when you can march down a list of topics, confident that everything needing discussion is on that list.

So here's some pointers I've found about creating and maintaining these kinds of agendas.

Keep a running agenda list for people you regularly interact with

These people are probably coworkers, family, and close friends. You communicate with them all the time and there's usually plenty of things needing discussing.

Continue Reading: "Agendas ease the headache of remembering" »

Tip - Add Contacts to Projects and Actions

This tip was originally posted in the eProductivity Weekly Tip newsletter. Sign up to get more tips like it delivered straight to your email inbox.

Did you know you can link contacts to your eProductivity projects and actions? If not, this tip is for you.

You might use this feature to keep track of which key people relate to the project you're working on. Or maybe you have an important call this afternoon and you need easy access to the relevant contact information.

Whatever your need may be, here's how to setup and use contact linking.

Enable the Contacts view to appear on the eProductivity Navigator

By default, the Contacts view will not appear on your eProductivity Navigator. So first, if you don't have the Contacts view enabled, you'll need to do so from the eProductivity Preferences.

Go to the Preferences (click on the big eProductivity button on the top action bar), and then locate the Navigation > Main Navigator tab. Click the checkbox next to 'Contacts'.

Enabling the Contacts view inside of eProductivity

Save and close the Preferences, and then close and re-open eProductivity for the changes to take effect.

Continue Reading: "Tip - Add Contacts to Projects and Actions" »


"Add to Outlook" link can’t be changed, sadly

When setting up the upcoming "Getting Things Done with Lotus Notes" webinars with special guest presenter David Allen, I ran into an interesting issue with GoToMeeting. They include an "Add to Outlook calendar" link on the webpage that appears after registering for a webinar, and we can't remove the link or change it to say Lotus Notes. Kinda embarrassing for Notes events like these.

Eric Mack then blogged twice about this on the Notes on Productivity blog.

I sent in a help request to GoToMeeting to see if anything could be done to about this Outlook-gate issue. Their help team recently responded with this:

There is no way to remove that option. Outlook is the default option because of its widespread use.

Ok, not surprising and even understandable. I'd bet other virtual meeting software companies do the same thing.

It's unfortunate, though, because it's confusing for our webinar attendees and it looks pretty bad when running Lotus Notes events.

So for everyone asking about the Add to Outlook link on our webinar registration forms, we know. :-) We can't change it. But maybe you can write to GoToMeeting and show that there are a lot of Notes users out there who would appreciate some consideration.

P.S. Oh, and you should know that if you actually click the "Add to Outlook" link, it's really just an .ics file that can be imported into your Notes 8 calendar. So no harm in clicking that link...

Email Folders vs. Reference Database

I was recently asked by a customer:

I normally use email folders for storing emails that I need to reference later. Should I be using the eProductivity Reference Database instead? What's the advantage?

The Reference Database is a separate - and free! - eProductivity application designed to store non-actionable reference materials.

the Reference Database homepage

While you can also use email folders for storing non-actionable materials, the Reference Database offers a number of advantages.

First, getting items out of your Lotus Notes mail file will speed it up and also help you to avoid mail file size quotas. For performance reasons, you don't want to store large file attachments (pictures, etc) in your mail file unless you have to. The Reference Database gives a great storage ground for these files.

Secondly, the Reference Database offers far more capabilities than email folders. You can categorize and tag your entries more effectively. You can create checklists and daily log files with datestamps. And, you can utilize the Quick Capture/Quick Paste functionality which helps if you find yourself typing the same things over and over again.

I personally use email folders to just store copies of emails that I might need someday in the future, but don't actively intend to come back to. I use the Reference Database to store all the items that I need to access regularly e.g. ideas for future blog posts, travel packing lists, monthly calls lists, etc.

Download the Reference Database

How I set up my external filing databases

20100323-EricsExternalDatabaseDestinations.jpgDepending on which license version you purchased, eProductivity will allow you to define up to three external reference databases and 10 external mail databases. Almost always, at least one of the external mail databases is the user's mail archive.

The ability to file an email into an external database can be used in many ways. In my configuration of eProductivity, I have defined my ten external databases so that I can quickly file something from my inbox into the destination database with a simple drag and drop gesture or by clicking on the File action button as shown here.

So how do I use this?

Continue Reading: "How I set up my external filing databases" »

Customizing your Project and Action Contexts

This week's tip shows shows how to customize your eProductivity project types and action contexts to suit the way you work.

Project Types and Action Contexts are the eProductivity "buckets" into which you classify your work. One such bucket might be "Calls", which lists the phone calls you need to make.This follows the GTD principle of defining your work into the context in which it can actually be done. If you have a phone handy and a "Calls" list to plow through, defining your work this way is very productive.

This is Part 1 in a mini-series, so subscribe to Weekly Tips to ensure you don't miss the other parts.


To see more tips, take a look at the Weekly Tip Archive.

New Feature: Mark tasks "Complete" in Sidebar

Are you using eProductivity Sidebar Widgets in Lotus Notes 8? Then you'll probably enjoy the new "Mark Complete" feature that was included in the latest eProductivity 1.84 version. Version 1.84 was just released this week.

In version 1.84, you can mark projects and actions as "Complete" from the sidebar widget. It's a nifty timesaver. Now you can work from anywhere inside of Lotus Notes and still march through your task list, checking off things as you go.

In fact, you can even make your widgets appear in a New Window outside of Lotus Notes, and then you can use your task list when you're browsing the web or whatnot.

Here's how the new button looks:



Stripping (or not) Email Attachments

People frequently ask me how eProductivity handles email attachments. When people try to drag-and-drop emails into an eProductivity project/action/calendar entry, the attachment seems to disappear.

While the attachment is still there - it's located inside the linked email if you open the email up - the attachment is more hidden than some might like. You might want the attachment to be immediately available once you open up the project/action/calendar entry.

Well, as with many things in eProductivity, "there's a preference option for that". We like customizable software, and from the feedback we get, so do you.

So to control this email attachment option, go inside the eProductivity preferences and look for the following section:

Preference option that controls stripping the attachement

(Click on picture for larger view)

Oh, and if you're wondering how to get into the eProductivity preferences, click on the big eProductivity button inside the software and locate the "Preferences..." menu item.

Make your eProductivity lists more effective

This week's eProductivity Tips newsletter featured a much closer look at the powerful Categorized Views and Advanced Views options inside of eProductivity. These views allow you to create highly effective lists inside of eProductivity, and customize everything according to your desired work style.

Because this was a close look at vital eProductivity features, I thought it was well worthwhile to repost here. Enjoy!


And go sign up for the Tips newsletter while you're at it!

Have you used the eProductivity tutorial?

If you're new to eProductivity, the eProductivity tutorial is the single best learning tool that we offer.

The eProductivity Tutorial - the single best way to learn eProductivity

(Click image for larger view)

The tutorial lets you play with eProductivity's features, and gives you guidance and tips along the way. There is nothing to install, you just open up the tutorial file and away you go. It's that simple.

If you want to get started quickly with eProductivity, I recommed using the tutorial as your first step.

Get the eProductivity tutorial

Video: Customize your eProductivity Navigator

Learn how to customize your eProductivity Navigator by adding predefined and custom contexts.


eProductivity is highly customizable, and it can be setup for the way you work best. Stay tuned, more videos that teach you how to do this are on the way.

Get more out of eProductivity with Weekly Tips

Need some guidance on using eProductivity more effectively?

I recommend subscribing to the eProductivity Weekly Tips newsletter. This free email newsletter offers easily digestible tips & tricks on using the various eProductivity features. It's a pretty convenient way to learn more about the software.

Go here for an sample newsletter from the past month.

Go here to subscribe.

Learn to use eProductivity more effectively with Weekly Tips

(click the image for a larger view)

Video: Paul Gardner demonstrates Quick Paste

Paul updated his Reference Tutorial video with this additional clip. It shows how to use the Reference Database's Quick Paste feature. Very handy when you're dealing with repetitious information!

A customer recently asked:

quotation_open_red_medium.gifHow can I create a linked Waiting For action item after sending an email? I'm about to send off an email to a colleague that requires them to respond and I don't want to forget.quotation_close_red_medium.gif

Great question. The answer is, eProductivity has many powerful linking options.

Follow the screen shots below to learn how to create a linked Waiting For action item after sending off an email.

(Click the images for a larger view)

Step 1:

Step 1: Enable Linking Options

Step 2:

Step 2: Create Next Action after sending email

Step 2.5:

Send the email. :)

Step 3:

Step 3: Select Waiting For as the action context

Step 4:

Step 4: Verify that the email is linked to the new Waiting For

There you go! Hope it helps to save you time and eliminates the unproductive extra clicks required to manually link the email to a new Waiting For.

Sidebar: As I've been mentioning, we're creating more training resources for our customers, including our free public webinars that are now available. If you have webinar topics that you want covered, or if you have a time slot (e.g. Tuesdays at 1:00pm) that you would really like to see webinars held at, please let us know. We value your feedback and suggestions.

Got complex projects? Need some control?

eProductivity Categorized Views

Continuing on my recent theme of taking you deeper inside of eProductivity's features, I'd like to give a brief mention to Categorized Views.

Categorized Views allow you to visually create a project / subproject hierarchy inside of eProductivity.

Continue Reading: "Got complex projects? Need some control?" »

How to use the ’Today’ view

TodayViewThumb.jpgThe eProductivity Today view. Your dashboard for getting a handle on your day's priorities. But how does the Today view actually work?

I think we get this question frequently for two reasons. One, because people want to use the Today view to track all their due dates so that nothing urgent slips through the cracks. Two, because the process by which items appear on the Today view can seem a little magical at first.

Continue Reading: "How to use the 'Today' view " »

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