How much is saving your time worth?

Friday, January 9th, 2015
Time is the one thing you can't beg, borrow, or buy. That's why I so appreciate JT's story -- he recognizes time as "the most valuable resource of all" and credits eProductivity with saving it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JT

Thanks for sharing your story, JT!

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



Happy New Year!

-Nathan



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

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

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

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

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

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

A few definitions

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

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

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

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

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

Why the Weekly Review is so powerful

Following the checklist above will help you

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

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

David Allen on the Weekly Review Coach



To use the Weekly Review Coach

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

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

More info

Read more about Someday/Maybe

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

Read more about the Tickler File

Read more about the Weekly Review Coach

Here's to your success!



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

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

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

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

Husband
Father
Professional
Educator
Individual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Getting perspective

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

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

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

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

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

A word about Areas of Focus

Here are some examples of this particular level:

Personal

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

Professional

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

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

How to set up your Horizons of Focus

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

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

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

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

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

Want to learn more about planning your horizons?

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

Credits

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

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

Happy New Year!

Eric

P.S. Share your own insights

What tips, tricks, tools, or habits have you found helpful to review your year? Or is there anything you'd like help with to close out 2014? Either way, I'd like to hear it in the comments!



Part 1: Shred your lists! | Part 2: Review your future conversations | Part 3: Get inspired with your creative ideas

Part 1 | Part 2

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

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

What's a "Someday/Maybe?"

Again, this list is not:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your own collection of creative ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don't have this list?

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

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

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

Share what you know

Are there any tips, tricks, routines, or habits that you've found helpful to review your year? Or is there anything else you're struggling with to close out 2014? Either way, I'd like to hear it in the comments!

Credits

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



Part 1: Shred your lists! | Part 2: Review your future conversations