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GTD with Lotus Notes...anyone?

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  • GTD with Lotus Notes...anyone?

    I know there's Eric Mack's site at, but beyond viewing a screenshot of his Notes template, are there any users out there successfully implementing GTD methodology within Notes either with or without a custom template?

    I have heard within the GTD site that DavidCo is a Notes shop... so possibly we could have some expert advice!

    A search on these forums reveals nothing apart from a plea for a dedicated Notes Forum and googling only shows with any GTD/Notes advice - which is back to a static screenshot again.

    Comeon people, throw me a bone!

  • #2
    I do use Notes, but only for email and calendar. I use Palm Desktop for the rest (previously used Outlook but went back to Palm Desktop for simplicity).

    Notes has one of the most powerful email features, as far as GTD is concerned, and that is the "Send and File" button. This way, you can immediately sort outgoing emails into your Waiting For folder. You don't have to cc yourself, the email is stored according to the name of the recipient, not the sender. Very powerful for quick sorting of your waiting fors and follow up actions.......

    Otherwise, I use the calendar function for work, as it is quite integrated with notes - scheduling meetings is easy.

    At home, I have a plain vanilla Palm Desktop setup


    • #3
      Cheers for the update, but the remaining question is - does it work with GTD effectively?


      • #4
        Originally posted by Anonymous
        Cheers for the update, but the remaining question is - does it work with GTD effectively?
        I'm struggling... will let you know!


        • #5
          Lotus is an effective tool for GTD. Especially for calendar and email applications.

          Syncing to a Palm, I don't like the way that Notes syncs the tasks and address book, thats why I still use the Palm Desktop.

          But remember, the power of GTD is in the 5 stage process, not the tools.

          Notes is fine as far as a tool goes


          • #6
            Originally posted by mondo
            But remember, the power of GTD is in the 5 stage process, not the tools.
            Quite true, I only try to use GTD within Notes due to the HUUUUGE volume of email that comes my way day-in, day-out. The extra step of checking into notes for email and calendaring, whilst still using other tools as well seems wasteful.

            As far as the Palm goes, there are some functional tools that can be adapted - such as Shadow, but again you lose inter-operability unless you use Notes to-do's and simply sync them across to the palm.

            Although an avid Palm user for 3+ years, the slowdown of using Grafitti (or the keyboard on a treo) still isn't as good as a plain old paper and pencil. Perhaps the meatier CPU's in new models will improve matters - sometimes its the wait to switch across to the to-do app. I'll be trying the new Treo 600 soon!

            All this technology and it's still not right... which is why I asked about anyone successfully using GTD within Notes!


            • #7
              Using notes...


              You're right, DavidCo uses notes...for e-mail. Everyone on staff manages our to-dos and project reminders in Palm. (One of us uses Outlook, just for tasks and calendar and notes...e-mail is still in Notes.)

              Why don't we use Lotus for task/action management? Great question. I think the use comes in the simplicity of using Palm for all the reminders. It's easy to get in there, easy to review, easy to work from.

              Eric Mack is the "king" of Lotus Notes with GTD (or is it the other way around?). You can get ahold of him at:



              • #8
                Adapting GTD to Notes, or vice versa

                Here's what I attempted with reasonable success at my last job in blending GTD with Notes. Keep in mind I'm still a GTD novice and that Notes was strictly for work-related stuff; my Clie holds my personal lists.

                In our office, the Notes templates were locked down so we could not create our own forms. (Also couldn't sync our Palms with Notes.) I relied on creating folders in the Mail view and alarms in my Calendar. I didn't use To Do view much.

                Like many others on this board, I use a melange of programs, processes, etc. Notes was just another piece of the puzzle; I've stopped trying to find the one-size-fits-all program because it doesn't exist (for me).

                I adopted a few strategies I had seen elsewhere on this board. So, mail arrives in the inbox. I may have 5 to 10 long- or short-term projects in play, and I have specially named folders for them:

                P: Communications plan is done
                P: Announcements for the software release are written
                P: Monthly report is done
                P: Doc library is up to date

                and so on. P=Project, which sorts them all together. Outcomes are written with the nouns first, which I find stimulates my imagination more; sometimes I use abbreviations. And these folders hold all the mails associated with that project.

                [Aside -- you can also create empty folders to hold little one-line notes which you can delete later.]

                I used a @Calls folder to hold emails that required me to phone the person, an @Email folder that required a reply, etc. When the deed was done, I would move the file to the appropriate P: folder or delete it. I checked these context folders several times daily and during the weekly review.

                I heavily used the @Waiting On folder: I would send a mail and file it to Waiting On, which I would check during my weekly reviews. Regularly checking that folder (and sending follow-ups as needed) made people think I had an incredible memory. Far from it! I was just a little more organized than they were...

                When a project was done, I archived the entire folder. I would delete the P: and preface it with a symbol or letter that would sort below the P: folders. (Sorry, I can't remember all the details right now.)

                Discussion on the Yahoo group and here made me realize I didn't need or want to digitally capture everything that came my way. Post-its and the backs of x-a-day calendars did fine to capture short-term assignments from my manager, and then they were scrapped. I also kept a list of someday/maybe projects written on a legal pad.

                For extra support, I created my own little form in Ms Word using the line-drawing and text tools; the page had maybe 6 boxes labeled mail, calls, web, waiting on, etc. During the weekly review, I would look at my P: folders, decide what the next action was, and write it down (with today's date) on my form. When I performed an action, I crossed it off with a highlighter.

                So, the Notes folders contained my list of active projects and prompted my next actions. When the form got filled up or messy, I printed a new one, transferred what I needed, and off I went. (I also adjusted how much room I left for each context, based on need; the form was always a work in progress.)

                And of course, this was all supported by hard-copy project folders, tickler folders, etc. I tried to keep the Notes component of this process pretty simple so that I only needed to mess with the Mail and Calendar views on a daily basis. For my needs, it worked fine.

                [I was fortunate in that I worked closely with my manager and did not have to fill out a monthly status report. So I didn't need to track every inch I crawled.]

                BTW: A neat categorizing trick in Notes To Do view: Using the backslash creates a subfolder. So entering "Employees\Ted" creates an Employees category and a Ted sub-category. I think this is in the Notes help file somewhere.

                Apologies for the long post.--mike


                • #9
                  Using Notes Successfully

                  I have been using GTD for over two years and Notes is the email system at our company. I've had the pleasure spreading the GTD gospel to a few others here as well.

                  When I was in the IT Department, I had a programmer customize the Notes mail database to allow direct linking of a To Do action item to a project. This was a great help in my weekly review. This is how I made sure I had a Next Action for every project. I encountered two down sides to this though. First, since this was a customization, the field linking the action item to the project did not sync to the Palm. This wasn't a big deal since I used Notes as my main source of action items. Second, and this was the killer, was when we upgraded to Notes R6. The customization in the mail database worked fine but killed the ability to sync effectively with the Palm OS. I am moving my To Do to the Palm desktop until I can get the issue fixed with sync'ing between Notes and Palm.

                  The bottom line is that Notes is just a tool. We can choose our tools, others we can't. When we can't you have to use them in the ways they fit best and be creative when they don't. GTD doesn't require technology to be successfully implemented.


                  • #10

                    Thanks for all the comments guys.

                    Thought I'd give you a quick update - I've adopted some of the strategies suggested above and am successfully(!) using Notes purely for email and calendar, and the Palm for project lists / next actions. I'm managing the next action lists as a project within ShadowPlan, but it could be any tool on the Palm.

                    It's still not an elegant solution, but for the moment I've abandoned the (unattainable?) goal of using Notes for everything.

                    Good luck in your own implementations everyone



                    • #11
                      Lotus notes Template


                      New experimental release of GTD using Lotus Notes.

                      Check it out and contribute!!