Video: How to use ActiveWords

Monday, June 29th, 2009
One of the essential components of my productivity toolkit is an application called ActiveWords. I use ActiveWords to control most of my Windows Applications.

I've just posted the video and related links over on the inside.eProductivity blog.

Since this blog is focused primarily on Lotus Notes, I know that the next question I will get is: "Will ActiveWords work with Lotus Notes?"

Yes and no.

ActiveWords works as if you had typed keystrokes at your keyboard and is great for launching applications and substituting text. These features work great in Notes.

Because Lotus Notes is itself a windowed application ActiveWords has not context from which to control specific features of Notes once launched. This is because it has no context.

For people that use eProductivity for Lotus Notes we have modified Notes in such a way that ActiveWords can effectively control most aspects of Notes. So, for example, I can type "IN" anywhere (Notes does not even have to be running) and ActiveWords will launch Notes (if not already open) and take me to my inbox.

Even without the connection to Lotus Notes, I think ActiveWords is a remarkable application and certainly one I am never without!

ActiveWords Web site

Two interesting discussions today. (Well one at least, my post has no comments yet.)

Ed Brill: What kind of apps do you run on the Notes client stand-alone?
Eric Mack: Just what is Lotus Notes good for, anyway?

There's discussion about what people use Notes for and whether it can be personal or not. I just posted this comment to Ed Brill's blog, but I think it is valuable to re-post here. It deals with the issue that when tools become personal, people become passionate about them - and they tell their friends, and their friends, and their friends...
@12, one of my clients, David Allen, loves to show end-users and senior company execs the Notes Journal - something most have no idea exists. If you have ever attended his Getting Things Done (GTD) seminars, you know that he often mentions and shows how he uses Lotus Notes and then he talks about the power of the journal and the ability to customize. 10 years ago (it maybe more) David stumbled on the Notes Designer client and created his own quote application - an app then he still uses and shows off today.

The key here is that Notes became personal to him. Once a tool becomes personal, people can't help but tell and show their friends. Think of the iPhone.

The key point I want to make is:
When tools become personal, people become passionate about them - and they tell their friends, and their friends, and their friends...

In this illustration, and end-user "discovered" something that created great value for him (the Notes Journal) and then he "discovered" that he could customize the way he works with his information using the Notes designer client. the tool became personal. Now, you couldn't pry it from his hands. I know many people that feel the same way.

As I teach in my seminars: "for tools to become productive, they have to become personal."

What do YOU think?

Just what is Lotus Notes good for, anyway?

Thursday, June 25th, 2009
In the beginning, we did not think of Notes as e-mail.  (I'm talking about the client)  We thought of Lotus Notes as the ultimate repository for information and knowledge in tacit form across distributed databases (often called "knowledge-bases" or "applications"). Oh, and Notes happened to do email and calendaring (with some issues).

Over the next 15 years Microsoft did an exemplary job (I think) of convincing the world that Notes was just email and that it wasn't very good as such and that Outlook was better application because it was a really good Personal Information Management Tool (PIM). They did a good job of shifting the focus from the many things Notes did really well to the fact that its email and calendaring had some issues. Over time, Notes users listened to the message from Microsoft and, in the absence of new information to the contrary, began to think of Notes just an email client.

Lotus, then, IBM responded with improvements to email & calendar but missed the opportunity (in my opinion) to educate the world that the Notes client - even back then - was so much more than email.

Continue Reading "Just what is Lotus Notes good for, anyway?" »

Over the past few weeks, two free drawings were held for GTD Productivity tools. Sponsored by ICA, ActiveWord Systems, and Gyronix, the drawings awarded prizes with a total value of over $2000.

People were invited to to download and explore eProductivity for Lotus Notes. Everyone that did, got their name entered in the drawing. Those that took the time to send in feedback, got their name entered a second time. No purchase was required.

Six people's names were drawn on June 2 and again on June 15 for a total of 12 lucky winners.

Visit the Inside.eProductivity blog to find out who won.

While I encourage users to archive their old mail, I don't use the standard mail archiving features of Notes. Instead, I prefer to use the external filing feature of eProductivity which allows me to archive on-the-fly simply by dragging emails to an external database. This way, I am effectively archiving in real-time and with little effort. Also, the line between action and reference remains clear for me..

Today, Julia Brown blogged about Lotus Notes Mail Archiving today on the Lotus Notes 8 Tips Blog:
Archiving is a really great way to reduce the size of your mail file, and to keep things from getting cluttered in your mail. But we know a lot of people never set up archiving because they can't figure it out, and the current help is not sufficient. So this week's FAQ-style tips should help you out with setting up and using archiving

I think Julia's made good start at explaining how anyone can set up archiving for Notes mail and stay under their company email quota.

As I posted in my comment on her blog, one of the problems that often see is when users (or this Admins) incorrectly set up archiving to archive all documents in a user's mail file - including tasks and calendar entries. This, of course, undermines the value of Lotus Notes as a trusted system. Properly setup, however, Notes archives can be a helpful way to keep file sizes down and email access speedy. Hopefully Julia will address some of the many ways to configure archiving options in a future post.

Lotus Notes 8 Tips:
How do I reduce the size of my mail file (to avoid going over my mail quota)?

iFidelity for more productive e-mail

Friday, June 19th, 2009
One of the (many) features that I love about Lotus Notes is the ability to paste doclinks from anywhere to anywhere. Long before we had URLS we had doclinks. I feel so strongly about the value of Notes doclinks that I worked hard to get my two favorite knowledge visualization tools, MindManager and The Brain, add support for Notes Doclinks to to their product.

If you can live inside of Notes, doclinks are great but when you move to the web they sometimes break. I've been following Ben Langhinrichs blog posts about his product, iFidelity, that among other things appears to ensure that doclinks will work inside and outside of Notes - incliding within IBM's own iNotes mail template.

I have not actually used iFidelity, but from today's blog post it looks like a valuable tool to improve the experience and increase user productivity.

Blog: Why is iNotes a second class citizen?

You can lean more about iFidelity here.

GTD Coach Kelly is on a journey to get Lotus Notes tasks to sync with her iPhone and she's got a lot of followers waiting to see if she will be successful. You can read her adventures here.

Chris Blatnick posted a comment that said that Notes/Domino 8.51 will include native Lotus Traveler support for the iPhone but it is unclear if this will provide the features that Kelly needs.

As far as I know, one problem that business users face with the iPhone, at least from a GTD perspective, is that the iPhone does not support tasks. So, unless Lotus Traveler 8.51 adds a Task app to the iPhone, Kelly will still not achieve the level of productivity she seeks.

To give Kelly her ultimate GTD system, she needs:
1.        Lotus Notes - Got that
2.        eProductivity - Got that
3.        iPhone - Got that
4.        An on-device task application - It must sync with Notes. (See #5)
5.        A way to sync tasks  (#4) with Lotus Notes  - Traveler? mNotes?

Now that you have seen the list of requirements, do you have any recommendations?

Read: Kelly Forrister: New iPhone feature for Lotus Notes?

Note to iPhone software vendors:
 If you have a product that meets requirements #4 and #5 I invite you to post a comment and  link here. Everyone else: please don't flood the blog comments with advertisements for your iPhone products unless they meet requirements #4 and #5. Thank you!

DrawingFishBowl.jpgInspired by this week's GTD with Lotus Notes podcast with GTD Coach, Kelly Forrister, I've decided to take a short break from showing people how to get more done with Lotus Notes and eProductivity to equip them with a way to get more done: I've decided to give away licenses and subscriptions to my favorite GTD productivity software.

Last month, I took the business cards from everyone that visited the eProductivity booth at Lotusphere 2009 or the GTD Summit and entered the names into a drawing for free GTD software. Additionally, if I received written feedback from those people who had already evaluated eProductivity, I entered that name in the drawing a second time.

My daughter, Kelly, selected the first 6 winners.

Before I share the winner's names, you should know what the prizes are:

Congratulations to the first group of winners! I've created a winner's page on the eProductivity web site where you can find out who won.

This was an experiment to see if the concept of a drawing would encourage people to visit the web site and evaluate the software. It worked - well enough that I've decided to do it one more time with a larger audience.

If you didn't win the first time, I'm going to give you another chance to win some of my favorite GTD productivity applications.

In just over a week, I will have one more drawing for free GTD & productivity software. The drawing will be Monday, June 15, 2009. That's only one week away; follow this link for details.

Do you blog or Tweet? If you think the offer of free GTD & productivity software would be of interest to your friends, please share it with them. Thanks.

I wish you the best of luck in the drawing.


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.

How to experience Lotus Notes for free

Thursday, June 4th, 2009
I receive many requests from people who have learned about Lotus Notes for the first time, either as a result of David Allen's mention of Notes at the Office 2.0 Conference, a public GTD seminar, or podcast or as a result of learning about eProductivity. They usually contact me to ask if individuals can purchase Lotus Notes (yes) and if it is possible to evaluate Lotus Notes for free (yes).

Unfortunately, as many people have learned, the IBM web site can be an overwhelming experience for an individual user that simply wants to download and try or buy Lotus Notes. Here's some information which you may find helpful:


How to experience Lotus Notes for free:

You can evaluate Lotus Notes for free, with the Lotus Notes 90-day Test Drive.

Lotus Notes Product Manager, Dwight Morse, recently posted a detailed tutorial that explains how to use Lotus Notes to retrieve your personal email (e.g. from a hosted account.) Dwight provides detailed screen shots for each step. If you are a first-time user of Lotus Notes and you want to use Notes as your personal information management system, I think you will find this tutorial helpful.

When you are ready to purchase Lotus Notes:

1. Go to the Lotus Notes Product Page & click the green "View US prices & buy" button
2. Select "IBM Lotus Notes with Collaboration Authorized User License"

I hope this information is helpful.