We've touched on the productivity equation and we've looked at how methodology is the first component of the equation. Now, we'll look at the technology or tools that you use. Since you've already selected GTD as your methodology (a decision I wholeheartedly agree with) you now need to find a GTD implementation tool that will support you in the way that you work. From my email:
II. Choose your GTD implementation tool and master itNext week, I'll share the next part of this email that takes a look at how to take your Lotus Notes and GTD implementation Mobile. Meanwhile, I invite my blog readers to share how they are using Lotus Notes as a GTD Implementation tool. I'd like to hear from you.
From 3x5 card to paper planner to MAC/PC to BlackBerry -- there are a range of solutions. The brilliance of GTD, I think, is that it's platform agnostic so you can manage using the GTD methodology just as well on a napkin or using custom software. What you need to find is a very good list manager, something that is easy to use, is easy to integrate with your existing workflow, and is fast. Most important, it must be something you can trust.
We discussed your use of Lotus Notes at your company. I think Lotus Notes is a powerful tool for personal knowledge and action management. It also happens to be the tool of choice for me and for the The David Allen Company. (Disclosure, The David Allen Company is an ICA client and David is a good geek friend - I designed and deployed their Notes collaboration infrastructure and have supported David and his team for the past 15 years, so I'm a little biased as to the power of Lotus Notes.) Many people are successfully using GTD with Lotus Notes in a variety of ways.
Here are three ways to use Lotus Notes as a GTD implementation tool:
Vanilla Lotus Notes:
Some people prefer to (or are forced to) stick with vanilla Lotus Notes. If you are among this group, then I recommend a the Getting Things Done with Lotus Notes Guide. This guide is available for download from the David Allen store for $10. If you are using current versions of Notes, you may find the guide a little dated so some adaptation is necessary to make it work with current versions of Notes. However, the essential stuff is all there and it's all good. I expect to work with DavidCo to help them rewrite the document. Also, I "think" this document is a free download if you join GTD Connect. So you may want to check there, too.)
Update: Four years ago, I wrote a post in the GTD forums, called "Five steps to implementing GTD within Lotus Notes." In that post, I shared some of the tips that I share with my eProductivity coaching clients. I just checked the stats and, to date, that post has been viewed more than 20,200 times! Much I what I wrote in 2004 is included in this email, but it's probably still worth a read to see what I wrote about focus and customizing Lotus Notes as a GTD List Manager. There's no charge to read the document in the GTD Forum, here's the direct link.
Create your own List Manager for Lotus Notes:
Out of the box, I don't find Lotus Notes (or Outlook) to be very GTD friendly. You can work with them and get more from them using the principles of the Notes & GTD or Outlook & GTD documents from DavidCo. One of the nice things about Lotus Notes is that it can be customized. IBM provides a separate product, called the Notes Designer Client that will allow customization of any forms and views and logic in Notes. With solid programming skills and the Notes Designer Client an accomplished Notes developer can customize Notes to do almost anything. Over the years a few people have even created and posted their versions of a notes template on the web. I've looked at several of these over the years and the problem I have with the ones I saw was that a) they appear to deviate from the concept of GTD by adding complexity that is not needed or in some cases contradicts the GTD methodology, b) they do not integrate well with Notes Mail/Calendar/Journal/task list, c) and, some of the templates, because of their customization, did not work properly with mobile devices. That's not to diminish the value of these customizations. When I work with my eProductivity coaching clients, I stress the importance of selecting a tool that works for them.
eProductivity for Lotus Notes:
Most of our clients simply want to get things done with Lotus Notes; they don't want to become programmers, they just want Notes to support their GTD implementation. For people that really want to leverage the power of Lotus Notes as a GTD implementation tool, there's really only one solution: eProductivity for Lotus Notes. Developed over the past seven years, here are some of the things that eProductivity for Lotus Notes does to make it easy for people to implement GTD in Lotus Notes are:
- Fully integrated into e-mail, calendar, and task lists
- Mobile support for PDA/SmartPhone/BlackBerry
- Out-of-the-box support for all of the standard GTD lists
- Support for custom project and action lists
- Linking of actions to projects so that you can see a project and all related actions
- Linking of emails, calendar entries, and other items to projects or actions for immediate reference and retrieval
- Automatic prompts for next actions upon project definition and completion of an action
- Weekly Review Coach to walk you through the weekly review process in the context of your project and action lists
I think eProductivity is the ultimate list manager and GTD implementation tool for Lotus Notes. (OK, that was a shameless plug, but I invite you to judge for yourself) I would be happy to invite you and your colleagues into the eProductivity workgroup pilot program so that so that you can experience eProductivity firsthand. There's no charge or obligation, I'm simply looking for productivity-minded individuals to use eProductivity and provide periodic feedback on their experience. This will be a 4-question survey to complete as well. If this interests you let me know and we can make this happen.
Regardless of the tool you select as your GTD list manager, be sure that you get grounded in the methodology first. Remember a tool is just a tool - it is designed to support you in your work; it won't do your work for you. (Sorry.)
Links to related posts in this discussion:
I. The eProductivity equation