Tag Archives: Lotus Notes

Tips For Choosing Your Productivity Tool

16 March

People ask me at least once a week, “What’s the best tool for staying organized?”

The best methodology I know of for self-mastery and self-management is called Getting Things Done. But most people who ask this are simply looking for the name of a software application where they can manage their agreements. If you’re in the position of looking for a personal productivity tool, here’s what I’ve learned about selecting a good one.

Tips For Choosing Your Productivity Tool:

  1. Make sure to choose something you LIKE. To me this is the most critical factor in determining how long you’re going to keep using it. Follow your enthusiasm.
  2. Digital or paper-based systems? What works better for you? Are you highly kinesthetic? How fast do you type and navigate a computer?
  3. How portable will it be? Can you add to/review it from any location? How important is this for you? Do you really need to work from anywhere? Should it sync with a smartphone or tablet?
  4. Is there integration between Email, Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks? Is this important to you? Some people love to have everything in one program. Other people can switch easily between a calendar app like iCal and a task manager like OmniFocus. Personally, I’m in the former category.
  5. Where does most of your work show up? Delegated by your boss? Emails from clients? Projects created from your own imagination? If you “live in email”, I suggest a system that’s well-integrated with your email program. Look at where you spend your time and make sure the tool you choose aligns with that.

When in doubt, a paper planner is always a great way to start. That’s how I started over ten years ago, with a simple three-ring binder and some computer printouts of calendar pages and action lists.

Now you can get a fabulous paper planner (with all the necessary innards) from David Allen Co. Everything you learn about managing your workflow in a paper planner can be transferred to a digital tool if you later decide to go digital.

But the vast majority of people who ask me about choosing a tool already know they want to go digital. Here are a few options to consider, some of which are probably already on your computer:

1. Options that integrate with Email/Calendar:

  • Outlook
  • Lotus Notes
  • Gmail/Google Tasks
  • Do.com – I know of several GTDers using this with great success.

2. List managers that don’t integrate with Email/Calendar:

  • OmniFocus (Mac only)
  • Word Documents / Excel Spreadsheets / Text documents
  • Google Docs / Google Spreadsheets
  • Evernote
  • Notes (Mac only)

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the tools I’ve explored. Some of the other applications out there don’t have everything you need, where others are simply less popular. If you come across a different application that you love, let me know and I’ll be happy to tell you what I think of it: lisa@peakeproductivity.com. Better yet, leave a comment below so we can all benefit from your experiences.