mom who works

the joys and challenges of being a working mom trying to find "balance"

An organized life? January 17, 2010

I have been in my new job now for about a month and a half, and I find myself floundering not in the job itself, but in how to keep myself organized and on top of the 100+ different things I am responsible for.

The issue is that I have the memory of a gnat, so I’ve learned to become a creator of lists. If it’s not written on a list, it’s gone from my brain as quickly as it enters it, and never gets done (just ask hubby!). I’ve been an avid user of PDAs for about 100 years now, starting with my Palm III through to the Treo 650, then to Blackberry, iPhone and back to Blackberry again. For about the last 10 years I’ve used Outlook at work, and got quite good at using customizing Outlook’s “task” function (which always synced with my current PDA at the time) so that I always had my various lists both on my computer and synced to my handheld. I had a system and I had it down pat. I was the epitome of organization.

Cut to the new job. Which I love by the way. But they use Lotus Notes. Yes, you heard right, LOTUS NOTES. Now I’m sure for all the IT techy geeks out there there is some great and cool reason why a huge organization such as my current employer would choose to go with such a clunky, kludgy, mid-90s-ish enterprise email/contact/calendar system as Notes. But for me, I have just one thing to say about it – Notes SUCKS.

Let’s just say Notes To Do function is useless. I’ve been trying for the last 6 weeks to get Notes to work with my previous “system” of managing my tasks, and the bloody thing just won’t cooperate. To give you just a small flavor for how much Lotus Notes SUCKS – it can’t print out a task list. I’m dead serious.

Oooh, I sound like a whiny baby, don’t I. Sorry.

Image of Moleskine from

Image from

So on to some possible solutions. I had just started subscribing to Lifehack, when I saw this post by Dustin Wax on how he sets up his Moleskine. And I was all like, “Moleskine? What the heck is that?”

Turns out that Moleskine is a company that makes these really high-quality, hardbound notebooks. And what I found out is there is this whole cultish devotion to these simple, yet elegant tools.

There’s the Monster Collection of Moleskine Tips and Hacks, How to Make a Moleskine PDA, Moleskinerie, and much, much more. Just Google “moleskine” or “moleskine hack” and you’ll see what I mean. Even anti-Moleskine posts have cropped up to try and combat the onslaught of love the world has heaped upon this simple notebook.

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the possibility of going back to an analog task management system, not unlike my first job out of college where I got hooked on the Franklin Planner system (before it became Franklin/Covey and got all spiritual on me). Since my first Palm III in the early 1990s I’ve been digital and never looked back. But I am beginning to think that going old-fashioned may be the way to go.

In either case, I need to get there quick because the email and tasks are piling up.


9 Responses to “An organized life?”

  1. Ed Brill Says:

    What version of LOTUS NOTES? We have worked on usability a lot in the last five years, but if you are on a back-level version, you wouldn’t see that.

  2. Deborah Says:

    Hi there, and thanks for the comment. We are on version 8 (I think I’m on 8.x, but I know it is less than 8.5, because the IT guys are testing that version out now).

    Are you involved with Notes somehow? Please let me know if the new 8.5 version has the ability to print a to-do list and better customization of to-do. It’s been incredibly frustrating for me (as you can tell from my post).

  3. Ed Brill Says:

    I am responsible for Notes for IBM. I will take a look at your questions in a couple of days (at a conference right now as is my whole staff) and try to get you some suggestions.

  4. […] mom, Getting Things Done, GTD, time, time management, work I’ve been on a mini-quest to get better organized at work. I’ve purchased a shiny new red Moleskine weekly planner, and even a backup plain Moleskine […]

  5. Ed Brill Says:

    Well I learned something about my product here. You are right — by default, we offer no ability to print a to-do list in list form. I am, honestly, surprised.

    It might be worth looking at this add-on — FewClix. They are in beta now, and I can get you into that beta if you are in an environment where you might be able to apply it to your Notes client.

  6. Ed Brill Says:

    OK, following up on that, I asked my twitter followers what I was missing.

    In the to-do list, you can print and then choose the radio button that says “selected view” under “What to print”. There is also a to-do list printout available when you are looking at your calendar, choose “to-do list’ under “print style”.

  7. […] customer service, ibm, lotus notes, microsoft, microsoft sucks, microsoft xbox, sucks, xbox I recently posted about how my new employer uses Lotus Notes and my frustration with the To Do function of Notes. […]

  8. Rich Greaves Says:

    If you are getting into GTD, I would highly recommend taking at look at eProductivity for Lotus Notes. eProductivity is the GTD application that David Allen uses himself. Check it out at

  9. Mat Newman Says:

    Hi Deborah,

    As indicated above – when you choose “File->Print” (or Ctrl+P) from your “To-do” list, just choose the “Selected View” option to print your list out.

    Whichever To-Do view you are currently using will then be printed in the format as laid out on the screen. If you are looking for another option, while in your Calendar, choose print, and then next to the option “Calendar Style”, choose “To Do List”.

    These options have actually been there since Notes has had a To-do list, as has the ability to synch with a PDA, including all of the devices you have listed above…

    As for formatting options – you can let me know what else you are looking for, different styles, etc, and I’ll help you out. Feel free to contact me directly with any question you might have about Lotus Notes.

    Regards, Mat.

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