Sunday, May 31, 2009

Make way for monster jealousy


michael, scott and peter :: r.e.m. @ great woods, mansfield, ma :: june 13, 2008

(Sorry for the older pix.  I’m doing my semi-annual hard drive clean up and found some oldies but goodies I’d forgotten about.  Eventually, I’ll get around to more recent pix.  Also, I refuse to call Great Woods by whatever name it’s known by now.  I’m old skool like that.)

I’ve been told that IBM has been very interested in my experiences with their Lotus Notes software. (Mostly because I’ve been so vocal. Me vocal? NEVER!)  I feel they have good reason as I appear to be the poster child of the new wave of potential customers - the singe license user, only interested in their product because of eProductivity.  I’ve been struggling with making the software do what I need it to do at home only to find out that it isn’t built for that unlike Outlook (or Entourage - the Mac version).  So, I’m at an impasse with using Lotus Notes and, by extension, my new favorite piece of software, eProductivity, at home.  I will continue to use the software at work because I love it so much.  (That’s where the title of this entry comes from - I’m so jealous that the software work does exactly what I need it to, beyond perfectly, at work, but not home. It’s so not fair! *whines and stomps like a five year old*)

I work as the office manager for a small family owned construction company.  My main bosses, Mom & Dad, are what I lovingly call “Crazy Makers” or “ADHD 1 & 2”.  I tend to be a Captain and Commander, although I feel that I am very far from being a black belt.  One day, I aspire to stay in the GTD mode for longer than a few months at a time. I tend to fade in and out of the system… of course, I tend to fall of the wagon when I most need the structure and discipline.  I think most of us do - it’s a part of human nature to give in to the chaos instead of trying to control it.  Chaos, to me, never feels like a manageable project.  There’s just too much fire fighting and running around like a chicken with its head cut off to find the structure and achieve that mind like water state.

Once I started this job, and was experiencing too many of those chaotic moments, I started to struggle with my system.  New jobs are bad enough, but new jobs with GTD as an integral part of the transition hadn’t been that problematic.  Inputs—> Inbox—> Process—>Happy Tam + *happy dance*.  It had been a pretty simple, pretty streamlined, pretty productive process.  I discovered quickly that if my life was simple, I could almost trust Outlook.  I never trusted it 100% but just enough so that I didn’t think about it too much.  Then, I took this job.  Everything I hadn’t liked about Outlook came flying to the surface once the chaos started- It seemed like too much work to get it into a state where I could truly feel that was a trusted system. As such, I really resisted trusting my lives (home and work) to it.  I stopped trusting my lists.  I started dropping the ball. I was a wreck.  I am NOT that employee and it was really starting to tick me off. 

Since I’ve begun using eProductivity at work, I’ve been really succeeding at keeping my mind like slightly ripply water.  It’s a huge step forward from the state I was in when I started there. (Think of tsunami/hurricane level waves - completely destructive.)  It’s important to me to have my calendar, contacts, and email all in one place as I feel that using different applications goes against the whole principle of stress-free productivity.  Lotus Notes does all that - as long as you only have one email address - which makes it the perfect Outlook replacement at work. Add the eProductivity piece and I am beyond productive. Even kinda, sorta, in those nasty chaotic periods. EVERYTHING goes into eProductivity at some point during my day and gets processed by the end of the week, if not that day. 

The funny thing is, I don’t do a true Weekly Review.  This kind of amuses me, because the Weekly Review Coach piece was one of my top reasons to use eProductivity.  I do what sort of amounts to a daily review as I move page by page through the myriad of notes I can produce during the course of a day. A normal conversation with Dad can cover 10 topics in about 2 minutes.  I’ve learned to adapt by keeping a HUGE stack of scrap paper close by and writing each unique thought on its own piece of paper, dated, timed and notated as to what job it belongs to. Never more than 1 thought on a sheet.  In one exhausting 45 minute phone call, I generated over 100 pieces of information. My paper inbox can go from zero to overflowing in the time it took you to read that last sentence.  It can get ugly and it’s gotten much worse now that they’re back from Florida and in the office more. (I work for snowbirds - ADHD snowbirds. It makes life interesting.) 

I trust eProductivity so much, it’s kind of disgusting.  I want to scream from the rooftops: “USING ePRODUCTIVITY KEEPS ME SANE. ZOMG! I LURVE IT SO MUCH!  I WANT TO MARRY ePRODUCTIVITY!!!!!111111”

As I said yesterday,  “I’m an emotional, cheese sandwich type blogger - you’re never going to find anything more than my take of the issue du jour.”  You’ll never really see an in-depth entry here about how I use the software because that’s just not my style… but I can tell you that I live in the “projects and actions” view.  I like to see my complete inventory and pick and choose what I do.  Most of the time it’s based on perceived time to complete and energy level because my bosses have the tendency to completely exhaust me.  I do spend a lot of my time on two minute next actions - like I’m supposed to, but I don’t really do it consciously. It’s based on the fact that it’s just easier to do them.  I tend not to do them when I process my inbox, choosing instead to wait until the time is right.  Then I kind of group them into contexts: process invoices, send faxes, respond to emails, etc.

However, I’ve never really been good with contexts.  My main issue tends to be that I hate phone calls.  I get so resistant to my “@calls” list that I won’t make them.  Instead, I choose to view them as 2 minute next actions that I process IMMEDIATELY.  As in, “OK, I’ll call Joe Client once we’re done here.” I write the note and instead of putting it in my inbox, I place it on the phone.  Then, once the conversation is done, I make the call.  In the case of multiple calls, I do have an “@calls” context list (or a rather large stack of notes that serves the same function), but because it’s not a LIST there’s no resistance. (Anyone out there want to take a whack at the mental process behind that? I’m curious to hear why that works…) 

At any rate, no matter how far from being “true” GTD my system is, I completely trust eProductivity at work. Sometimes, things just click and do exactly what they’re supposed to. 

Now, if we can just figure out how to get Lotus Notes to work like Outlook (multiple email address support), I’ll be beyond happy.  I’ll also take a version of eProductivity for Outlook / Entourage if that would be possible…either way, I just want to use eProductivity at home, and I can’t right now.  Hey, a girl can dream! *grin*

Posted by Matty on 05/31 at 02:28 PM