(Continuing from yesterday): Chris Blatnick, a professional business coach and long-time eProductivity user, shares why he loves eProductivity's Weekly Review Coach and how it helps him stay on track:

The Weekly Review Coach in eProductivity is basically an enhanced wizard, walking you through all of the steps necessary for a successful Weekly Review. It's an elegant approach because it allows you to focus on just one thing at a time. This is key, since maintaining this focus will drive you toward completion faster and allow you to be more thorough in your work. The coach kept me engaged, targeted and on track. I'll admit that in the past I got distracted chasing an idea or item down a rabbit hole. While this can still happen in any system, I felt more focused because I had the coach to guide me through the review in the correct order.

After launching it, the Weekly Review Coach takes you to the first step in the process: Collect Loose Papers. For each step of the Weekly Review, the coach tells you what you should be doing and gives you suggestions to improve your game. You can see a sample shot from the Weekly Review Coach below.

Continue Reading: "GTD, Lotus Notes & the eProductivity Challenge: The Weekly Review (part 2)" »

Speaking of the Weekly Review, here's a guest post from Chris Blatnick, a GTD fan and long-time eProductivity user who was blogging before it was cool. He draws on his experience as a business coach to discuss why the Weekly Review is so critical, as well as why he loves eProductivity's Weekly Review Coach:

Webster defines a coach as "one who instructs or trains."

I'm a big fan of coaching. Whether talking about a presentation coach to help hone your skills on the stage, a performance coach to help you better your 5k time, or a life coach to get you to focus on your overall goals and objectives, coaching is a fantastic way to help you achieve your potential and then reach for loftier heights. In fact, I'm writing this post right now while waiting for my son to get out of his teen life coaching session. I occasionally work as a technology coach, helping people map out what they want to get out of using technology, then putting a plan together to meet that goal in the most efficient way possible. So right off the bat, I figured I would like the Weekly Review Coach functionality of eProductivity. I was wrong, though...I actually love it!

Ask any Getting Things Done fan, new to the system or grizzled veteran, what the biggest obstacle to complete mastery of the GTD concepts is, and they'll likely tell you it is the Weekly Review. The Weekly Review is the part of GTD that brings everything into focus, helping you to close open loops, determine what is needed to move your projects forward and keeps you on track toward your higher level life goals. David Allen calls the Weekly Review the "secret sauce," and in my experience that is very true. I've posted before about my GTD journey to this point, and the times when I was most on my game and feeling that I was living the vision that Mr. Allen maps out in his book was when I was diligently doing my Weekly Review.

But let's be honest...it takes some serious focus to plan out the time to sit down every week to look over what you need to be working on. In fact, in some ways, the Weekly Review exerts a certain force of opposition if you are afraid of what you'll uncover. You need to do this, however, to get full clarity of what you should and shouldn't be working on. Thus, the concept of having a "coach" for helping you get through this process is outstanding.

Tomorrow, I'll post the rest of Chris's thoughts on how well the Weekly Review Coach works.

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!

How to upgrade the eProductivity Stand-alone App

In this short video we show you how to upgrade your eProductivity Stand-alone application to the current version in just a few minutes. (For greater detail, choose full-screen viewing at 720p)

Related links:

We’ve Been Changing Things Around Here...

What's new at eProductivity for Lotus NotesIf you've visited the eProductivity website sometime in the last two weeks, you've undoubtedly noticed that things are markedly different. The new products, new website and more are the result of much hard work by the eProductivity team, inspired by the feedback and input of our loyal users - you! We hope you like the improvements as much as we do.

Let's take a look at what's new and explore what this all means.

Continue Reading: "We've Been Changing Things Around Here..." »

And the winners are... (Survey 2010)

card_credit_L_GiftCard.jpgTo say thanks to those who participated in the recent eProductivity satisfaction survey, we offered three VISA gift card prizes - $100 each to two runner-ups, and a grand prize of $300 to one winner. All participants who completed their survey by December 31st, 2010 were automatically entered for a chance to win.

We're pleased to announce that the names of our winners have been drawn!

Continue Reading: "And the winners are... (Survey 2010)" »

Survey Results are In!

survey-checklist.jpgReady for some insider information? The initial results of the recent eProductivity satisfaction survey are in!

Using an online tool, we recently surveyed a representative sample of eProductivity customers. Participants were asked a range of questions about their eProductivity and Lotus Notes experiences. Over 400 completed surveys later, we have a wealth of insight on how we can improve and better serve the needs of our customers.

Continue Reading: "Survey Results are In!" »

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.

eProductivity Summer Savings


We just kicked off a Summer Savings promotion that includes great deals on various eProductivity licenses. If you don't yet own eProductivity, make sure to take a look.

eProductivity can help you save enough time so that relaxing on the beach in one those chairs, sipping on a cool drink, could actually happen for you this summer. :-)

Meet Kelly Mack, Beta Program record keeper

At ICA, we are creating opportunities for the next generation workforce. Here's just one example:


As Beta users install the latest release of eProductivity and accept the license agreement, we record the date so that we know who’s really using the software. This gives us an idea of how many people are actually using the new versions and it helps us identify star beta program members so that we can thank them and include them in future special programs. It also allows us to remove people who, for various reasons, choose not to participate in the beta.

This important task is the responsibility of our manager of Beta Program record keeping, Kelly Mack (age 10). In this picture you can see Kelly faithfully doing her job.

P.S. Kelly's been a Notes user for 6 years and has began using eProductivity last year.

Preview of some eProductivity 2.x Beta Features

Jens Bruntt has posted a sneak preview from the upcoming eProductivity 2.x version. This new version builds on the power of Lotus Notes 8.51 and enables a host of new features. eProductivity 2.x is currently in beta and open to current customers. Contact us if you'd like to join and if you meet the qualifications.

Excerpt from Jen's post:

I would like to show a couple of new features from the coming Lotus Notes 8-enabled eProductivity template.

Save and Add Another
There is now a "Save and Add Another" button available when you're creating or editing an Action. See the illustration below:


This action button makes it easier to plan a project where you know that there will be a number of actions involved. What you do is you create an action. When the form is filled in, you click the Save and Add Another button. This saves/closes the Action and then brings you to a new Action form that you can then fill in. And this of course can be repeated for as many actions as needed.

Very handy. I definately can use use it. I often know need to add two-three actions in a row.

Continue reading the rest of the preview on Jen's blog

David Allen, GTD Coach Kelly Forrister, and eProductivity's Eric Mack collaborated on a recent TechGTD podcast.

Topics in the far-ranging podcast included cloud computing, mobile devices, favorite apps, Lotus Notes, and much more. It's well-worth listening to the approximately 48 minutes of run-time.

Note: Listening to this podcast requires a GTD Connect membership. You can sign up for a free trial here.

Click the image below to go to the podcast on GTD Connect (login required).


Lotus Knows how to Get Things Done

At this year's Lotusphere, IBM Lotus VP of messaging and collaboration, Kevin Cavanaugh presented the Technology Keynote. Kevin talked about the Lotus product strategy, roadmap, and of course, Project Vulcan.

Kevin discussed how Lotus applications bring a flood of information to the user, and he pointed out a key problem that this can cause: information overload.

"... we don't need more calendars... we need a way to consolidate and adjudicate between competing events. ... we don't need more ways to capture text; we need ways to reduce the stress of unfulfilled commitments and organize tasks for action... As an industry, we're kind of guilty of multiplying lists, with no real method for how those lists of tasks might be managed. However, there are some great counter-examples..."

Kevin proceeded to talk about David Allen's Getting Things Done® (GTD®) Methodology and how eProductivity is a solution developed by Lotus Business Partner Eric Mack and David Allen to 'GTD Enable' Lotus Notes. (See the video for more).

On a related note, one theme that came out of Lotusphere was how CIOs feel that they've extracted all the cost cutting value they can from IT budgets. There's not much left to pare down. CIOs are instead focusing on making workers more productive. (Read the conversation transcript at Escape Velocity, a blog by Nathan T. Freeman)

Lotus has introduced many new improvements and enhancements to their products that can help, but at the end of the day, value creation ultimately happens at the individual level. It's at this level - increasing personal productivity - that the next great opportunity exists.

With that in mind, it's exciting to see Lotus exploring ways to increase worker productivity. One way they're doing that is by looking beyond Lotus software to the best practices of GTD and software tools like eProductivity that complement Lotus offerings and help users get things done.

[ YouTube Link ]

eProductivity wins a Teamstudio Award

Teamstudio recently announced the winners of their 2010 Spotlight Awards. This is the 3rd year of the contest, which was "created to raise awareness of how creative, relevant, and effective Lotus Notes application can be."

Each award applicant is judged by a panel of industry experts.

We're very pleased to see eProductivity win 3rd place in the contest, and we have the shiny award plaque to prove it! Recognition for eProductivity's excellence is appreciated.

A big thanks goes to Teamstudio for this organizing this contest. Hat tip as well to the other well-deserving winners, Response Tracker and Notes Reconn.

David discusses how designing computers to help you think rather than just present data is one of the new waves in technology.

[YouTube Link]

David talks about his "aha!" moment when he realized the value of a software-driven GTD Weekly Review, and how eProductivity has implemented that vision.

[YouTube Link]

eProductivity at Lotusphere 2010

eProductivity is going to be featured at Lotusphere 2010 in a few ways.

On Tuesday, eProductivity's president, Eric Mack, will present a best practices session - "IBM Lotus Notes and Me: Maximizing Personal Productivity with Lotus Notes". Ed Brill is going to be there, and so should you.

On Wednsday, Eric will present a Birds Of Feather session called, “Getting Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes”. This will be a more discussion-oriented presentation with lots of time for Q&A.
Finally, the whole week we will be exhibiting in the Lotus Foundations Lab. For a special treat, come by and see an eProductivity 2.0 sneak peek! eProductivity 2.0 is our new product - currently in private beta - that is designed specifically for Lotus Notes 8.51.

Santa goes lean this year

Santa is going lean this year. The Notes on Productivity blog has more on this surprising development.

Exclusive REAL photo of Santa


Get a refund on eProductivity

Many of our customers are pioneers of sorts. Maybe you're one of them. Let me explain why our free license & full refunds promotion is for you.


You, our pioneering customers, tell us about the value that eProductivity brings to your everyday work. Quite often, you've purchased eProductivity with your own money with no reimbursement from your company. You do it because it helps you to perform your job better.

That's a glowing recommendation in my book.

One of my roles here at eProductivity is spreading the word about our software, so I love hearing your stories. It's great to see that eProductivity really works for people.

The exciting thing is that word IS spreading. People are telling their coworkers and friends about the benefits that only eProductivity can provide through GTD-enabling Lotus Notes. More and more companies are looking to adopt us.

You can help to speed things along. We're offering to give your company lots of free licenses. You just need to tell them about it.

And since you, our pioneers and early adopters, have paved the way at your company, we want to refund your original eProductivity purchase. It's our way of saying thanks and putting a little extra cash in your pocket for the holidays.

Your stories and efforts are appreciated!

You can learn more about the opportunity here.

Upgrading to Notes 8- effect on eProductivity

An eProductivity customer asked:
I am being upgraded by my company from Notes version 7 to Notes version 8.5. How will this affect my eProductivity software?

The main thing you need to know is that eProductivity is not likely not to work immediately following the upgrade. To restore it to working order, you'll need to re-apply the eProductivity template, which is thankfully a fast and painless process.

When your Notes administrators upgrades you to Notes 8.5, they will usually do two things:

1. Upgrade your Lotus Notes software
2. Replace your mail template design with the new Notes 8.5 template.

This second step will break the functionality of eProductivity. Your eProductivity navigator and contexts will not appear after the upgrade and the action buttons in your folders may not work.

The good news is that you won't lose your projects or actions or linking. You just won't see them until you re-apply the eProductivity template to your mail file. The re-application process is quick and easy - it's the same process you went through when you installed eProductivity for the first time.

So, following the upgrade to Notes 8.5, you'll likely need to follow these steps to get back your eProductivity functionality.

Inbox stuffed? 50% off Thanksgiving Special

Does this cheeseball (Butterball?) ad get your attention?

Got turkey on the brain?

(click for larger image)

We sure hope so. After all, eProductivity Premier and Professional licenses are 50% off this week! Gobble this offer up because it ends in a few days and there won't be any leftovers.

So don't wait. Grab your friend's wallet and buy yourself a new productivity tool. The ultimate Lotus Notes productivity tool, in fact. Doesn't an empty inbox sound nice heading into the holiday season?

If you already own eProductivity, buy it for the friend whose wallet you pinched. That's called generosity! They should benefit from eProductivity too.

If they keep their wallet well-protected, at least be kind and tell them about the offer.

Go here to learn more about this offer.

(Bad puns courtesy of myself and another staffer who shall not be named...)

Bruce Lill: "eProductivity in Use - my setup"

Bruce Lill is a Lotus Design Partner and now recently, an eProductivity user. Bruce blogs at www.brucelill.com. He has given us permission to repost some of his thoughts on eProductivity that were initially posted on his blog. Enjoy!

(Remember to click the small images to get a larger view)

eProductivity in Use - my setup:

The mail opens to the Today view shown below. The navigation lets you view all your projects, action, list and reference databases from one place. You can now really live in your mail file. The folders are from the choices you make on the eProductivity preferences. For me the projects are for internal use, clients or Lotus ( the redbook, etc). I spend most time with this navigator open as I can do almost all functionality. I use IBM's Swift file so I can put emails into folders easily. The only thing I miss is to have the "replicate now" button on the navigator. I added it to my old mail template and will probably add it here also. It is on the action bar but you have to scroll to get to it. As I work local all the time, I tend to like to refresh my mail.


My mail file's navigation after installing eProductivity.

Here is the Today view with my actions and any meetings listed. Luckily today there aren't any meetings today, so I'm doing this blog entry.

Bruce Lill- Today View

Here is what a project looks like. This one is important, it's to become more productive!

Bruce Lill - Inside the

I have only 3 - project types. Projects is for internal work such as this blog, Projects - Clients is for billable projects and Projects - Lotus is for projects that I do with Lotus such as the Domino R8.5 Deployment wiki.  I'll end up with more projects types as I get a better feel for how to manage my tasks. You can take emails and link, embed into tasks & projects or move then to the reference database.

I've always used database to store information, I have a customer, development, administration, and office dbs. I use the customer db to track projects, proposals, general  information and correspondence. I've added code to my mail template to let me drag selected mails to a modified document library and all the email information would be stored there. This let me centralize the information and when working with others, share it.

Now it's gong to be trying to use the eProductivity Reference database instead of mine. I have moved all the emails with license and registration numbers to the reference database.

I do wish the Action list in the project form could be longer, as you can see from the image of the form, only 3-4 items are visible. you can scroll or go to a view to see more. I'm now adding a action to my project to build a list of "Nice to have" features that I will post here.

One caveat I found was creating an Action and forgetting to link it to a project. When you change folders or open your mail you will be prompted to make it a project. I hit yes and ended up with the task as a project, not what I wanted. You can't demote it, only delete it and re-do it.  I'll know next time. I do wish it let me have a choice to make it a project of link it to a project.

I have found this error was do to having a context call "S/M - Projects", it seems that the Projects in the name was the cause of the problem, Easy fix. The title or subject of the Projects and actions can be formatted to appear categorized in views. I just figured this out this morning as I was updating my projects. You can group projects together  by first selecting the format in your preference then for the Project title do "category - project name".  In the view the project will be group by the category. here is my Lotus Projects (Project - Lotus is a project type):

Bruce Lill- Project list

Do plan for time to setup, get use to it and to adjust it to fit. You can easily change your preferences such as add project type and the left side navigation will be updated with your new choices. Really nice job.

Next post will be on using it for the deployment redbook. Go and give eProductivity a chance to change how you approach your mail.


During last week's eProductivity Basics webinar, a common question was, "Can you create more videos/guides for setting up and using eProductivity?"

While we do have a number of resources available, creating more is a big priority for us, and we're working on it. In the meantime, we have some unofficial resources to draw your attention to.

Recently, Paul Gardner showed how he setup the eProductivity sidebar widgets in Notes 8. And today, Eric Mack shares another setup tip with you.

Eric demonstrates how he sets up the link between his eProductivity Reference Database and his eProductivity Mail. When the link is setup, you can do neat things like drag-and-drop reference items from your email directly into the Reference Database for organized storage. Very handy.

Launch Video

Video: Paul Gardner sets up the Sidebar Widgets

(Tip: watch the video in full-screen mode for the best viewing experience...)

Learn more about setting up eProductivity sidebar widgets by viewing Paul Gardner's excellent tutorial video above. Paul is an eProductivity customer and a prolific blogger. This video shows how Paul setup the widgets for himself. Remember that these widgets require Lotus Notes 8 to run.

And, if you want to know more about pastors and ministry workers using GTD, Paul writes a great blog on that subject.

Using eProductivity and switching to Notes 8?

A customer asked:
My company is switching over our Notes version from 6.5 to 8.5. Should I do anything special with my current eProductivity install to help prevent any problems with the switch?

eProductivity works great with Notes 6.x, 7.x and 8.x. With Notes 8.x or higher, you'll be able to take advantage of the new sidebar widgets that are coming soon to eProductivity. This will keep your Today view or Actions by Contact view on the side of your screen - even when eProductivity is closed.

You do need to know one thing about the the upgrade to Notes 8x.

When your Notes administrators upgrade you to Notes 8.5x, they will (likely) do two things:

1. Upgrade your Lotus Notes software
2. Replace your mail template design with the new Notes 8.5x template.

When step #2 occurs, your eProductivity software will immediately break. While your data will be completely intact, all eProductivity functionality will be missing until you reapply the eProductivity template to your mail file. When you reapply, all of your projects/actions/linking/etc will show up again.

The good news is that the process to reapply eProductivity is quick and painless. Just follow this simple set of instructions.

Eating my own dogfood- Yum!

I just ate my own dogfood, and I'm feeling really good about it.

I missed my Weekly Review last week and things started getting chaotic in a hurry. Like most of you, my workday is a constant barrage of email. Falling behind means a long, intimidating climb back to a zero inbox.

Tonight, I decided to make the climb:  

20090915 RyanWeeklyReview.png

Ah yes. Inbox empty. Email nirvana. Control.


Rock your Work with Lotus Software

Lotus is holding a follow-up Video Blitz to the recent Lotus Knows Ideajam. The blitz showcases some creative ways people are using Lotus software.

Unfortunately, the deadline was 9pm tonight and we missed it. Just too many things going on here at eProductivity to produce a video in time.

Here's a glimpse at what the video might have been. Our work is a little raw and unfinished, but you'll get the idea.

Here you go - the video that Lotus doesn't know about:

[ YouTube Link ]


Mobile Productivity: eProductivity on the Go

ManHoldingTreo.jpgHow to be more productive in our highly mobile world is clearly on your mind, based on the large volume of questions we get on the topic.  So let me give you a brief rundown on what options you have for using eProductivity on the Go.

The first thing you need to know is that eProductivity does not currently provide any on-device software to manage projects and actions. This is left to the built-in software on your device or any third-party solutions you install.

The ability to manage projects and actions on a mobile device is a function of (a) the device and its capabilities, (b) what you're syncing it to (e.g. Outlook or Notes) and, (c) what software you're using to handle the sync. Getting the best experience requires all three components to work well together. That said, having robust, elegant on-device software will really help your mobile productivity to shine.

As you would expect, some devices do a better job with native task-management software than others. For on-device management of projects and actions, we still favor (as does David Allen) the Palm Treo due to its simple interface. Some devices, like the Windows Mobile or Blackberry devices add too many steps to get to your tasks, creating unconscious resistance. While the BlackBerry is an elegant platform and syncs beautifully, it also adds a level of complexity with filters.

Continue Reading: "Mobile Productivity: eProductivity on the Go" »

eProductivity gets a mention in CNN Money

Fortune Small Business section of CNN Money Magazine published an article today on David Allen, entitled Getting Things Done guru goes digital. The writer, Chris Taylor, briefly touches on David's productivity toolkit of Lotus Notes + eProductivity + smartphone:
Allen currently uses a customized version of IBM's Lotus Notes for PC, which he calls his e-productivity suite. It syncs automatically with his phone, so he can add notes on the go. Allen isn't planning to commercialize e-productivity anytime soon, though. And he's wary of most to-do-list software on the market.
Chris gets it  mostly right. What he refers to as Mr. Allen's "e-productivity suite", you know as eProductivity. He's right that it's highly customized - to make you especially productive- but it's certainly also commercialized for public sale.

Finally, he's correct that "David is wary of most to-do-list software." That's understandable because most to-do-list software applications just don't "get" the fundamental principles of task management at the personal level. That's why out of the hundreds of to-do-list apps, there are only two that have been vetted and certified as "GTD-Enabled." We're pleased to be one of them.

And we're definitely pleased to be mentioned in CNN Money.

P.S. Hey Chris, if you happen to read this, we'll even let you take eProductivity for a spin through a special program we've set up. Contact me directly and I'll give you a free activation key.

GTD Productivity Software Winners Announced!

DrawingFishBowl.jpg We recently held two free drawings for GTD Productivity software valued at over $2,000!

We invited everyone to download and explore eProductivity for IBM Lotus Notes. Everyone that did, got their name entered in the drawing. For those people that took the time to send us their feedback, we entered their name a second time. No purchase was required.

We met many interesting people as a result and it was a great way for people to experience the productive benefits of eProductivity and have fun, too.

Six names were selected in each of two separate drawings held on June 2, and June 15, 2009.

Here are the names of the winners:

Continue Reading: "GTD Productivity Software Winners Announced!" » DrawingFishBowl.jpg

We're giving away licenses and subscriptions to some of our favorite GTD productivity software.

Inspired by this week's GTD with Lotus Notes podcast with GTD Coach, Kelly Forrister, we've decided to take a short break from showing people how to get more done and held a drawing to equip them with a way to get more done.

Here are some of  the software applications we're giving away: Why are we doing this? Because we know that you like cool productivity tools as much as we do. And because when people try out eProductivity, they quickly understand the benefits.

In just over a week, we will hold a drawing for free GTD & productivity software. The drawing will be Monday, June 15, 2009. That's only 10 days away, so hurry and enter.

Help us spread the word. Do you blog or Tweet? Do you think this offer would be of interest to your friends? You know what to do. (Thanks!)

We wish you the best of luck in the drawing!

Podcast: GTD with IBM Lotus Notes

In her recent GTD Times blog entry: The Perfect List Manager, GTD Coach Kelly Forrister shared that one of the most common questions she gets asked is, “Which tool should I use for my GTD lists?” 

Kelly explains that while the GTD methodology is platform agnostic; there are a variety of tools that people can choose from to help them manage their workflow.  Some people prefer to use stand-alone GTD tools while others choose to use products like the NetCentrics GTD Add-in for Outlook or eProductivity for IBM Lotus Notes that integrate with their current email and collaboration systems. Some tools are certainly more conducive to GTD than others, but among the ones that work well, it always comes down to functionality and personal preference.

The David Allen Company has been using Lotus Notes as their collaboration platform since 1993 and David Allen and many of the GTD coaches and staff also use eProductivity as their GTD implementation tool of choice.

Kelly recently invited me to talk with her about what makes eProductivity so functional for people that use Lotus Notes. You've heard me share that David Allen says that "eProductivity is the ultimate GTD implementation tool for Lotus Notes." In today's podcast, you'll learn a few of the reasons why.

Getting Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes

I originally thought we would talk specifically about software features but the podcast ended up covering much more. I got to share some of the design philosophy and underlying features and principles that make eProductivity David Allen's recommended GTD solution for people that use Lotus Notes. Even if you are not a Lotus Notes user, you're sure to find value as we discuss the key features that make for an excellent GTD tool.

Podcast Description: GTD Coach Kelly Forrister and eProductivity Specialist Eric Mack discuss what makes an excellent GTD Implementation tool. Kelly describes the features of eProductivity that she and David Allen find most useful.

Session Notes:

00 Introduction: Which GTD tool does David Allen use?
06 Lotus Notes: Nothing comes close for collaboration
09 Anyone can buy and use Lotus Notes
11 Eric explains the extraordinary features of Lotus Notes
17 The special sauce of eProductivity: extensive linking
18 The importance of simple reinforcements, e.g happy face/sad face
22 Is it better to learn GTD first or learn the software and then GTD?
27 E-mails linked to projects & actions remain fully usable as e-mails
28 Intelligent breadcrumbs available everywhere
29 Cut & paste is not productive; Eric hasn't used cut & paste in 2 yrs!
30 David Allen uses ActiveWords to control Lotus Notes/eProductivity
32 What about linking projects and actions on a mobile device?
34 Getting started with eProductivity - simply download, open, and go...
35 The Weekly Review Coach - helps you keep your system current
38 eProductivity is a complete GTD implementation tool

podcast.gifListen Now

Special Offer:
Listen carefully: there’s a free trial and on the podcast and an offer of $100 off to the first 50 people that respond by June 15. (Listen for details in the podcast.)

Related Links:

Update: I've decided to set up a free drawing for eProductivity, ActiveWords, and GyroQ - the three tools that I use to improve my productivity with Lotus Notes. See here for details.

Winners of the free GTD software drawing!

Winner: Richard Smith
eProductivity Professional License

Winner: Cameron Weibe
ActiveWords Software

Winner: John Smart
GyroQ Software

Winner: Eric March
9-Month eProductivity Subscription

Winner: Don Martindale
6-Month eProductivity Subscription

Winner: Stephen vanderMerwe
3-Month eProductivity Subscription

Congratulations to all of our winners!

Please contact eProductivity within 7 business days to claim your prize.

We will have one more drawing on Monday, June 15, 2009

Evaluate eProductivity & enter the drawing for your chance to win:
Terms & conditions of the free eProductivity software evaluation drawing may be found here. ManDrowingInBox115.jpgIn the fast pace of today's business world, we are pressed to do more with less, to track more things and, well, get things done. Unfortunately, it's easy to get overwhelmed, miss something, and have things fall through the cracks. When that happens, you lose control and perspective and this can have a draining impact on your personal productivity, causing unpleasant ripples in your personal and professional life.

The solution is to hold the world back once a week so that you can do a thorough review of everything that you have (or should have) attention on. David Allen calls this, the Weekly Review. By completing a thorough review, you will feel a greater sense of control and perspective throughout the week and when you do it consistently it will transform the way you get things done.

The Weekly Review Process. It is the critical success factor for people that want to get things done.

This Thursday, May 28th, GTD Coach and fellow eProductivity user Kelly Forrister is leading the first Worldwide GTD Weekly Review. Kelly will be using Twitter to coach a global audience through the Weekly Review process.

Continue Reading: "Worldwide GTD Weekly Review this coming week" »

Free drawing for GTD Productivity Software

We know that the best way to learn about eProductivity is to experience it yourself. That's why we've decided to conduct free drawings from time to time to encourage people to evaluate eProductivity for themselves. The process is easy and quick and there's nothing to install.

Evaluate eProductivity & enter the drawing for your chance to win:

Is your name on the list of recent winners?

We will have one more drawing on
Monday, June 15, 2009.
(See below for details.)

No purchase is required. To enter the drawing, all you have to do is download and evaluate eProductivity.

Participation in the drawings is free; however, in order to increase the chance of winning for those people that really want to get things done with Lotus Notes, we ask that you take 10 minutes to download and view the eProductivity evaluation database. (There's nothing to install. Simply download, open, and view. When you are done, delete the sample database.) In return, we will automatically add your name to the list of names for the drawing.  

BONUS: If you choose to complete the optional feedback form, we will enter your name in the drawing for a SECOND chance!

After completing your evaluation of eProductivity you will have the option to complete an optional feedback form. In return for sharing your experience with us, we will enter your name in the drawing again for a second chance to win.


1. Visit the 'Getting Started' page and follow steps 1-4 (Skip step #5)

2. Download the eProductivity evaluation database (Step #4) and process the sample email messages. This will automatically enter you in the free drawing.

3. Optional step: when you have finished evaluating eProductivity, complete the optional evaluation. Upon receipt of the fully completed form, we will enter your name in the drawing for a second chance to win.


Why are you giving away licenses and subscriptions for free?

We really want you to explore all of the features that eProductivity has to offer. We know that your time is valuable and we want to make it worth your while to explore these features and share your feedback with us. If you choose to explore and follow all of the steps in the evaluation database and send us your feedback (as documented in the sample emails), we will enter your name in the drawing for a second chance to win.

Do I need to purchase anything to enter the drawing?

No. But you do need to download and review the evaluation database which will automatically enter you in the drawing.

How do I find out if I have won?

Following each drawing, we will announce the names of the winners on the eProductivity web site. We will also include them in the subsequent eProductivity Newsletter, so be sure to subscribe! You can also subscribe to the RSS feed for this site.

Do I need to install anything on my computer?

No. There's nothing to install. Simply download, open, and explore. When you are done reviewing the evaluation database, you may delete it. There's nothing to uninstall.

I don't have time to evaluate; can I just contact you by email?

Sorry, no. The only way to enter the drawing is to open the evaluation database and process the sample email messages. This will send us an automated email that will automatically enter your name in the drawing.

1. No purchase required, however, to enter free drawing entrants must evaluate the eProductivity software by downloading the evaluation database to their computer, opening the database, and processing the sample emails to learn about the software.
2. Only one prize per winner.
3. Names of winners will be published on the eProductivity Web Site and in the eProductivity e-mail Newsletter. We will also send a single email notice to the winner.
4. It is the sole responsibility of the winner to check either the eProductivity newsletter or web site to determine if they have won.
5. In the event that prizes remain unclaimed after 7 business days from posting on the web site, an alternate winner will be selected.
6. Once a winner has been awarded a prize he will be ineligible to win any other prizes.
7. This offer is null and void in countries where free drawings of this kind are prohibited.
8. In the event that winner's country requires taxes to be paid for prizes received these will be the sole responsibility of the winner.
9. In the event of question or dispute, resolution will be at the sole discretion of ICA.COM, Inc. and will be final.
10. ICA.COM, Inc. reserves the right to modify or withdraw this drawing at any time and without notice.
11. Prizes are non-transferrable and have no cash value.

Podcast: GTD, Notes & eProductivity

This evening, Chris Blatnick  (Interface Matters) and I were invited by Bruce Elgort and Julian Robichaux to talk about eProductivity for IBM Lotus Notes.

I talked about GTD, eProductivity, and Lotus Notes from a designer perspective and Chris talked about how he uses these to get things done.

Session notes, courtesy of the Taking Notes Podcast:
The show runs 49 Minutes and is 45.7 MB (128kbps)

Taking Notes Podcast #96

Special thanks to Bruce and Julian for inviting us on the show and thanks to show sponsor, Elguji Software for making it happen.

Two great testimonials

Several times a week, I receive testimonials from people that write to share their experience using eProductivity. Today, I received two fun ones.

The first needs no explanation:
Just to let you know.  I worked on setting this [eProductivity] up till about 2 am last night.  I had an empty in box when I went to bed last night for the first time in I don't know how long.  This morning I started dealing with email at 9 and now again have an empty mail box.  What a feeling.  I still have to finish setting up all my projects/commitments and I don't feel confident yet that I am using the software as effectively as I could, but I am very excited.  I really think this may be the tool that keeps everything together for me and allows me to "clear my brain" as David Allen would say.

I can see even at this early stage that this is a program I think I should invest in. I think I will look at GyroQ as well.
This is a pretty common theme from first-time users but I enjoyed reading every one.

The second is from a customer that had uninstalled eProductivity in order to experience and evaluate vanilla Notes 8.02. That experience wasn't as productive for him as he had hoped, so he switched back.* This morning, he wrote:
I'm very happy to be back on eProductivity -- EOM
I love it. eProductivity is about Getting Things Done with IBM Lotus Notes. Time and again, we are learning from our customers that David Allen's GTD methodology and the eProductivity software are having a huge impact on the way people get things done. It's also changing the way people think about Lotus Notes.

I think that's cool.

* eProductivity works well on Notes 6.5x, 7.x, and 8.x, 8.5x on Win/mac/Linux. We have many customers happily using eProductivity with Notes 8.02 and 8.5. This particular customer was extremely productive and proficient with Notes 7 and eProductivity. His move to Notes 8, from a productivity perspective, simply wasn't. Your experience may be different.  If you have an eProductivity experience to share  would love to hear from you. (If you are not using eProductivity yet, get started.)

My Lotus Notes is now GTD Enabled

I was delighted to receive an email from The David Allen Company that included this GTD Enabled logo for our software and web site:


eProductivity for IBM Lotus Notes is currently the only software product to be designated 'GTD® Enabled' by David Allen.

This is very exciting for me, as "Public version eProductivity shipped" has been on my project list for many years. Now that I can mark that one 'done' my next project is to get the word out.

ICA Announces eProductivity with GTD Inside

View press release in a separate window

ICA Announces eProductivity™, a Personal Productivity
Application for IBM Lotus Notes, based on David Allen’s
“Getting Things Done” (“GTD”) Methodology

Based on David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) methodology and seamlessly integrated with Lotus Notes, eProductivity provides control and perspective across an individual’s communications, projects, and actions, helping IBM Lotus Notes users reclaim 30 minutes of lost productivity each day and making getting things done with Lotus Notes productive, personal, and easy.

LOTUSPHERE, ORLANDO, FL, January 15, 2009
– ICA.COM, Inc, (ICA) today announced the immediate availability of eProductivity version 1.73, a software application that supports David Allen’s best selling Getting Things Done (GTD) personal productivity methodology, which is currently being used by many of the world’s most progressive organizations.

With eProductivity, users reclaim up to 30 minutes each day by reducing the time it takes to capture ideas and commitments, process e-mail and manage information in Lotus Notes. Tasks that took minutes to accomplish now take seconds.

GTD and Lotus Notes Together

“ICA really made the commitment and took the time to understand the Getting Things Done methodology before they started developing the application. This understanding is both critical to a good GTD implementation and a prerequisite to my really spending any time with any one GTD application. It speaks volumes to the integrity and value of eProductivity that it is the only application I use to manage all of my projects and actions. It's indispensable to the way I get things done. Many of my staff have the same strong feelings about it,” stated David Allen, Chairman of the David Allen Company and creator of the GTD methodology. “eProductivity is the ultimate GTD implementation tool for Lotus Notes.”

Long-time eProductivity user, David Walczak, CIO, Bayhealth Medical Center, said this: “ICA has created a very valuable solution which has had a very positive impact on my productivity in the following ways:

1. With rare exception, I now go home with zero email in my in-box. I've always been good with taking care of them but zero was an illusive goal.

2. The ‘Today’ view is very powerful. I am able to plow through the meetings and next actions that are in this view. It’s a great feeling to click the 'mark complete' button and watch completed items disappear.

3. I actually now have a feeling of "mind like water" in that I have captured all my stuff and know what all my commitments are at any given point in time.

4. My sense is that eProductivity helps me easily reclaim 15 to 20 minutes per day in processing email and determining next actions.

5. The Weekly Review Coach works very well and keeps me on top of all the stuff I have to do.

The most significant way in which eProductivity has helped me is in keeping track of my commitments to my customers.”

ICA Company president, Eric Mack, says, "We have worked closely with the David Allen Company (DAC) over the past several years to really understand what it would take to fill a market need among Lotus Notes users who embrace the GTD methodology. With over five years of development, testing, and use with clients around the world, eProductivity builds upon the native robustness of the Lotus Notes platform and provides GTD users with an easy to use and manage environment. The current version of eProductivity supports the elements of GTD that have made it such a huge hit in the corporate workspace.”

Scott Peterson, President, Harbor Group | CFO, Interstates Companies, said: "eProductivity allows me to focus on the items that are a priority while not worrying about forgetting items I need to complete later. With almost 100 people using eProductivity on a daily basis over the past 4 ½ years, it has had a strong impact on our company. eProductivity allows me to manage expectations of my clients, ensure I follow-up in a timely manner, and deliver the results I promise. I could not have developed the same level of trust with my clients without it."

ICA will demonstrate eProductivity at the Lotusphere 2009 Product Showcase Pedestal #722.  David Allen will be present on Monday evening to answer questions about how he uses Lotus Notes and eProductivity to get things done.

About ICA.COM, Inc.

ICA (www.ica.com) is a professional consulting organization, based in California, USA. Founded in 1982 by Productivity Specialist and Personal Knowledge Management Expert, Eric Mack. The company provides consulting services and software to help its clients improve their productivity, collaboration and knowledge management capability. ICA is the creator of eProductivity, a GTD implementation solution for Lotus Notes that is both used and recommended by David Allen.

For additional information or to download a free 30-day evaluation, please visit www.eProductivity.com.


IBM, Lotus, Notes, Lotusphere, are trademarks of IBM Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both.  "GTD®" and "Getting Things Done®" are Trademarks or registered trademarks of The David Allen Company. (www.davidco.com). eProductivity is a trademark of ICA.COM, Inc. (www.ica.com)

We are now ’GTD® Enabled’ designation


Today, eProductivity received the GTD® Enabled designation as an outstanding GTD Implementation tool for IBM Lotus Notes. eProductivity is currently the only software product to receive this distinction from David Allen.

Learn more.

David Allen's up in San Francisco at the Office 2.0 conference today. This morning, David delivered the opening keynote with Office 2.0 conference organizer Ismael Ghalimi.


I understand that Ismael asks David, "Why Lotus Notes?"  David shares his thoughts on Getting Things Done with Lotus and eProductivity. Cool!

I've not yet had an opportunity to watch the video but I see that Ed Brill's already blogged about it.

Update: Watch the Office 2.0 Opening Keynote with David Allen  Nice plug for Lotus Notes & GTD at 00:17:15 minutes

Interface Matters: On Total (e)Productivity

An expert on user interface design, Chris Blatnick, recently reviewed eProductivity and shares his thoughts on his experience from a design and usability perspective:
eProductivity is THE GTD solution for Lotus Notes.  It has a very simple and intuitive user interface, one that stays out of the way until you need it.  Since the GTD features are so finely integrated into the context of the work you do everyday, you immediately become more productive when using it.  eProductivity avoids flashy functionality and complicated routines and instead quietly empowers you to perform your daily tasks faster and more efficiently.  This is the hallmark of good software design, something the eProductivity team obviously knows a lot about.  For those that want to greatly improve their performance, I can highly recommend eProductivity for Lotus Notes.

Full post: Interface Matters:  On Total (e)Productivity In Lotus Notes

Define clear outcomes for project success

Question: When you identify important projects, do you clearly define the successful outcome?
Do you clearly describe, either in the project title or description what success, even "wild success" will look like?  If you are not doing this, you are missing out on perhaps the most powerful productivity tool available to help you accomplish your goals and dreams: your brain.  In fact, if you don't regularly do this, you're leaving your brain in park, when it could be driving you to accomplish wild success.

Visualizing the Successful Outcome

Many years ago, David Allen shared with me that one of the first things he did when planning his first book, the best-selling, Getting Things Done, was to write the Wall Street Journal review of his book, first. He wrote the book review as he would like it to appear in print, even before writing the first chapters of his book. For many years, I've written my projects in the past tense -- as if they were "done" and I found that helped me to "see" done as the objective. I thought that David's example of writing a formal review of his book project was very clever and a powerful visualization tool, so I made note of it.

My Personal Application

When I set out to develop my eProductivity software, I followed David's recommendation and decided to write my own review. I decided to summarize the product in two sentences, each from the perspective of a different audience. eProductivity is built on Lotus Notes, so I decided that the Notes community would provide one perspective. Since eProductivity embodies many of the principles that I learned from David's book, I decided that the GTD community should provide the other.

Continue Reading: "Define clear outcomes for project success" » Over on the Notes on Productivity blog, I asked Notes users two questions about what gets in the way, when implementing GTD in Lotus Notes.

If you currently use, have tried using, or are considering using Lotus Notes as your GTD implementation tool, I hope you will post your thoughts...

Productivity Countdown

eProductivity Countdown ClockI usually do OK tracking individual actions and small and medium sized projects. These are items for which I can easily envision the completed state - I know what "done" will look like and I know I will mark these complete in a few days or weeks. Sometimes, however, I have projects where the completion date is not days or weeks ahead but months or years ahead. I find those harder to keep in front of me. Even with regular review, I sometimes find it hard to keep a sense of time about a project that is off in the distant future.

As I prepare to launch eProductivity, a GTD implementation tool for Lotus Notes, I need to keep one or two key milestones in sight at all times. Specifically, we have a few big milestones - things like "launch web site" or "Prepare for meeting with David" or "Deliver presentation to IBM" that we have been working on for many months or in the case of the product launch, several years.

Several months ago, I watched a NASA Shuttle mission video and I was inspired by their countdown clock and their mission elapsed clock. I decided that I needed my own countdown clock, so I decided to create one for myself.

eProductivity Countdown Clocks for my team - notice dancing Ian?Starting with a countdown clock mechanism that I purchased on-line, I created a custom clock face and built five eProductivity countdown clocks. I set each one to the date of a key milestone. I kept one clock for myself and I sent the other four to key people on my team. Now, I have a tangible reminder of the event and the time remaining to complete. I've had the clock on my desk for a few months now and it's been a fun reminder of an event that I am looking forward to. The key question "What's your next action?" keeps me focused on the little things that I need to accomplish to achieve my goal.

It's been a fun way to get things done.

What makes a good GTD list manager?

Kelly Forrister recently posted her thoughts on what makes a good GTD list Manager. She proposes several requirements and key features to look for in a good GTD list manager:
  • Sorting lists by context
  • Ability to assign a due date
  • Portable for on the go access
  • Easily accessible
  • More attractive to you than repelling
  • Doesn't force priority codes
  • Place to capture additional notes
  • Ability to search and sort in various ways.
  • Robust enough to handle all of your stuff.

I think Kelly's list serves as a good foundation of the core features that any sound GTD implementation tool, whether low-tech (e.g. paper) or high tech (e.g. Lotus Notes) should offer.

If you have not read Kelly's excellent blog post, I encourage you to read it: What makes a good GTD List Manager?

The timing couldn't be better for me, as I'm in the process of doing a product analysis and writing copy for eProductivity for Lotus Notes, my own GTD implementation tool for Lotus Notes. In addition to my own criteria, I plan to run vanilla Notes and eProductivity for Lotus Notes through Kelly criteria and see how they fare. I'll post my thoughts here, in a future blog post.

People are asking Santa for eProductivity

I've received some interesting requests for eProductivity but none as original as the one I received this morning:
Re: eProductivity for Lotus Notes and GTD

Hello from Denmark :-)

I have told Santa that I would really really like to have a copy of eProductivity for Lotus Notes.

He said that I have been a good boy so I should contact you directly to request a preview....

I've had people contact me directly or via a friend to get into the eProductivity preview program, but this is the first request that I know of that solicited Santa's help.  A novel approach to be sure.

So, I responded:
Continue Reading: "People are asking Santa for eProductivity" »

Feeling overwhelmed? You need a checklist.

A checklist could save your life. Here's a not-so-subtle reminder about the value of checklists:

Have you ever found yourself emotionally shutting down in the face of a daunting project list and an overflowing e-mail in-box? I have.

The Air Force calls this Task Saturation and it can manifest itself in many ways. Some people hyper-focus on their email and new-mail alerts to the point where nothing gets done.

David and I made posts on Saturday and Sunday about the UK researcher who found that email distractions can cause a drop in IQ.

Fellow productivity blogger, Bert, from Open Loops, posted an excellent comment about how the military helps its pilots extract themselves from overwhelm before they have to extract themselves from their wreckage:

The Air Force calls this Task Saturation. When one is faced with a large volume of tasks, which is what you might see when you look at your backlogged email in-box, humans can shut down. Some, in an effort to deal with the tasks, begin to compartmentalize and channelize, meaning that they begin to concentrate on their email to the exclusion of all other communication and input that is still coming their way. This is why perfectly good pilots sometimes fly good airplanes right into the ground. In our lives, it means that we will not perform well on other tasks and responsibilities while we are struggling with that in-box.

Excellent illustration.  How does the Air Force help their pilots cope?
The solution? The Air Force provides tools and systems that pilots are supposed to fall back on in times of emergencies when task saturation can immobilize a pilot. They pull out their emergency checklists and start taking actions.

Checklists.  That's the ticket.

Got one?

Delegated Tasks for Group Action Management

Should we really use the delegated task feature to delegate actions to others?

While many people are usually excited to learn that their action management system will allow them to delegate actions to someone else, I find that many who have actually worked with such a system do not often share the same enthusiasm.

I usually recommend that my clients avoid using the task delegation feature of their action management system-- at least until I can confirm that everyone is on the same page in terms of how they will use it.
In order for delegated tasks to work, a high level of trust and an "action delegation protocol" must exist between all parties.
The person doing the delegating needs to trust that when he delegates something to another, it will be seen and actually treated as an action by the assignee. Likewise, the person who receives the delegated action must have a way to become aware of, internalize, and "accept" the action as their own. Successful delegation requires trust and commitment. If either is not present (as is often the case) then delegated tasks won't work.

This is not a new problem, it's as old as paper, at least. Technology has just made it easier to quickly dispatch a barrage of computer-delegated actions to unsuspecting (and possibly unwilling) people.

Delegated tasks create a situation in which the technology of productivity is likely to clash with the methodology of productivity.

The technology allows for tasks to be created and assigned to other individuals; however, without a sound methodology  and clear agreement on how these will be processed, (the action delegation protocol), it can quickly become a recipe for lost or missed actions, frustration, and incompletion.
I recommend that my clients use David Allen's GTD methodology. In of my years of consulting on technology, I've not found a better system for thinking about your work than GTD. In his book, Getting Things Done, David emphasizes the importance of accountability in all aspects of delegating and accepting actions; he also makes it clear that the system used to track actions - be it paper or digital - must be absolutely leak-proof. These are two areas where delegated actions, if not used properly, can fall apart as a tool for organizational action management.

Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, and even my eProductivity software all allow for tasks to be delegated to others simply by selecting the assignee from a directory. The beauty of this - at least from the perspective of the one doing the delegating - is that it is easy to create a project and then delegate actions to others.

One of my first action management systems, which I designed for the US Navy, did just this. The manager could initiate a project and then define and delegate specific actions to others in succession. Next actions could be queued so that as one action was completed the next would be delegated out in sequence. The system was a success, but I suspect that a large measure of this success was because the actions were effectively "orders" on the part of the manager and it was clearly understood that they were to be followed as assigned. The trust and protocol that I mentioned earlier were part of the environment. In a closed-system, with a clear chain of command, action management can, and indeed in some cases must work this way. That was almost 20 years ago. Today, a person is as likely to collaborate with someone in their own office as they are with someone  around the world. The relationship is less likely to be superior/subordinate, as with my Navy client, and more likely to be peer to peer. In this situation trust and protocol are essential.

The benefits of a delegated-tasks system can be significant. For the one doing the delegating, as tasks are entered into the system, they can delegate an action to someone else simply by indicating their name in the "assigned to" field. They can also can provide optional information such as a due date, status and alert notification request.

Outlook task delegation fields:


Lotus Notes task delegation fields:



For the assignee, they do not have to enter anything into their action tracking system - it's all done for them. Depending upon how their system is configured, they may have the ability to accept or reject assigned tasks first or the new tasks may simply appear on their to do list. Both Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes will display a list of delegated tasks, the responsible party, due date, and status.  For these reasons it is often quite tempting to use delegated tasks in the hopes of having a system of "total control and accountability."

Key things to consider when using delegated tasks:

1. Discuss delegated actions with your collaboration partners:

Will you use computer-delegated tasks at all? Will you allow others to add actions directly to your action support lists (risky) or will you use the propose/accept model (better) for delegated actions? What kind of feedback will be exchanged about the actions? What should be done when changes are required on either side?

2. Make sure that you understand how delegated tasks work:

Who "owns" the task? Will your system automatically place an action item on the assignee's to do list? How will they become aware of the new action? Do they have to accept it to make it their own? What is the process for delegating a task to someone and what happens when you (or they) cancel or change a task? Can a delegated task be delegated to someone else? How will you track these delegated items?

3. Make sure that everyone else understands this as well:

Simply having good technology in place will not necessarily make a team more productive. Sometimes it even leads to just the opposite. It is important, therefore, to have procedures and protocols in place for putting technology to work. My clients have found that training and coaching can make a big difference in the productive benefits they receive from their technology investment.

4. Have everyone practice delegating/accepting/declining actions:

Practice, practice, practice. As I've said before, in order for delegated actions to work at all, there must be a high level of trust - not only among the people but in their support systems as well.

Are delegated tasks simply a bad idea?

I don't think so, but I do think they can be very dangerous if not used properly. When used correctly, by a group of people, who have agreed upon a specific task delegation protocol, delegated tasks can be a powerful productivity tool. Unfortunately, more often than not, this agreement is not in place, and for this group of people, computer delegated-tasks can quickly lead to a lack of trust in systems and turn into a digital nightmare.

As I show clients how to use technology in support of the GTD methodology I find that few are really ready or need to use delegated actions. I usually coach these people to avoid using computer delegated actions and to use traditional  means, such as e-mail, phone or even paper as a way of exchanging information about tasks without entering actions directly into someone else' system. This way, each party can internalize the next action and their commitment to it, placing it on their own list as appropriate.

Is your organization using computer-delegated tasks? If so, how has it worked (or not worked) out?

I would like to hear about your experience.

Please post a comment (or send me an email) and let me know what you think!

This blog post is a transcript from last week's podcast on delegated tasks management.

Note:  For purposes of this discussion, when I refer to delegated tasks, I am specifically referring to the ability to create a task (an action) in a digital system such as Outlook or Lotus Notes, and to assign it to another individual, so that it will automatically end up on their action list.  

(c) Eric Mack 2005

ActiveWords and eProductivity

Buzz Bruggeman, president and chief evangelist at ActiveWords, called me this morning to show me how he is integrating ActiveWords with Palm desktop. I mentioned my eProductivity Template for Lotus Notes, and how I planned to add hot key control to all of the unique features of my template for an enterprise customer. Buzz quickly showed me just what I needed to know to use ActiveWords to create powerful shortcuts that integrate with Lotus Notes and my eProductivity template.

I can now quickly create a new action item from anywhere -- even outside of Notes. A simple hot key will automatically launch Notes and open a new action form. I've even set it up to automatically populate the date & time for me so that all I have to do is enter my next action, select my context, and save. (See screen shot)

Image:ActiveWords and eProductivity                    

To take things to the next level, I created a hot key that will allow me to select an email and convert it into an action in one step. Cool.

I've blogged about  ActiveWords  before, and I remain enthusiastic about the product.  Not since Actioneer came out with Actioneer Pro for Lotus Notes 4.0, have I seen such a powerful shortcut tool that I can use to quickly capture my actions. I've recently enhanced my eProductivity template to support Notes R6 for an enterprise customer. ActiveWords will help add further value to the template.

For those of you who are interested, I plan to share my ActiveWords wordbases so that anyone who uses Lotus Notes can enjoy them and enhance them to suit their own needs.

Thanks, Buzz!

It’s Empty, It’s Empty!

"It's Empty, It's Empty, It's Empty! I never thought that would ever happen. Thanks!"

These excited words are from a client, who recently learned how to quickly and effectively process his overflowing e-mail Lotus Notes in-box to zero as a result of attending one of my presentations. Reading his email made my day -- and it reminded me of why I enjoy doing what I do at ICA.

The most valued thanks that I receive in my work is learning how something that I was able to do for a client has positively impacted their life and their business.

Today, Jason Womack inspired me to share summaries of a few comments that I have recently received:

Eric, I have changed my Notes Welcome Page to look like yours and turned off my "chime" when incoming mail arrives.  I am literally amazed at how much of what I NEEDED to get done was accomplished yesterday.  I handled every one of my new emails and have even cleaned up all the way back to Monday (which if you saw my in-box is pretty good).

The question that you asked that struck a chord with me was whether or not we really knew what projects we were working on, and what tasks we had to complete to move them along.

I have started to use the Notes To-dos to manage my projects. Now, everything I need is at my fingertips.

I have processed my in-box to empty, and I am now working from my To-do list. As I adapt to your methods (and customize them to my needs), I hope to reduce the stress in my life, and become more effective.

I was energized to think differently about how I use Lotus Notes.

It is so gratifying to hear from my clients, current and past, about how I have been able to help them increase their productivity and find the time to do the things that really matter to them.

It is a privilege to serve each and every one.

Copyright © 2001, 2002-2019, 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.