Friday, March 5, 2010

Why I chose not to use the "GTD for Lotus Notes" tool

If you have been reading this blog, you will know that I have been experimenting with different ways to implement the GTD methodology in a way that best fits my personal preferences and needs. Thanks to some helpful comments from readers I found out that there is a community inside IBM that is focused on helping people implement GTD best practices. Since the members of this community are all working inside IBM, I find that their advice and best practices are very relevant to my situation. One tool that seems to be highly recommended by IBMers is GTD for Lotus Notes which was developed by Brett Philp and is available for use by IBM staff only. I tried out this tool briefly, but after a short assesment I decided not to use it for real task management. This is not because I don't doubt that this is an excellent tool, but because I don't think that using it will give me any advantage.

When you install Brett's tool, it will create a new database for you to use for storing your task information. This database has several excellent views that allow you to manage your tasks in much the same way that you could with RTM or Toodledo. However, moving my task information into a database other than my email database causes me two problems:
  • It is no longer possible for me to drag an drop emails onto my ToDo list like I can do with the latest version of the Notes email template (requires Notes 8.5.1 or later). I know that several people have described you to create a SmartIcon which will copy an email into Brett's database with a single click, but I could probably create a similar SmartIcon to copy details from the email to RTM or Toodledo so I lose the benefit of sticking within Lotus Notes.
  • My Notes email is hosted on a clustered server so I am confident that I can gain access to it at anytime and I am re-assured that regular backups are being done. This would not be the case with the database created by Brett's tool where I would need to back it up myself and I would not be able to access it from different computers unless I set-up a server to hist it myself.
Through the IBM GTD community I also found a pointer to a publication from David Allen Company which advises people on how Lotus Notes users can best  implement GTD practices. I purchased this guide (for US$10) and it seems to provide excellent advice. The only complaint I have about it is that the document is based upon Notes 6.5. with a short addendum on Notes 8. This means that it does not mention some of the newest features of Notes such as the drag-and-drop support or follow-up-flags. It is easy to use drag and drop once you know the feature exists, but follow-up-flags are more complex. I suspect that they can be very useful, but I would appreciate some advice on how to best use them.

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