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developerWorks  >  Lotus  >  Forums & community  >  Email is like Tetris: you lose eventually

Email is like Tetris: you lose eventually

How Social Business is changing Work

Many people have e-meetings they attend regularly -- for instance,  IBM Support recently started a daily (11 am eastern time) "Ask the Experts" session about IBM Connections Cloud and IBM SmartCloud Notes: Link to Schedule

I attend most of these,  which means I'm logging into that emeeting almost every day at the same time.    I've used a common short cut which is to name that meeting -- here's how:

I go to my  Meetings page (open from the Apps drop down):  

Image:Name that Meeting (and shameless plug for Ask the Expert sessions)

and I identify the meeting I want in the Recently Joined Meetings list and click on the Add Description

Image:Name that Meeting (and shameless plug for Ask the Expert sessions)

And then I type my text....including the meeting password so I don't have to go look that up.

Image:Name that Meeting (and shameless plug for Ask the Expert sessions)


and now the meeting shows up in my meeting history and I can just pick out that link to start logging into the meeting

Image:Name that Meeting (and shameless plug for Ask the Expert sessions)

Beth Benoit | 27 January 2015 11:50:52 AM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

I already knew that IBM Verse was great for deleting junk out of my inbox quickly.    What I didn't expect was how much the auto-filter capability could turbo charge my post vacation cleanup.      This is what the auto-filter on my inbox  looks like right now in IBM Verse (and yes I am mid-cleanup).  
Image:IBM Verse -- great for post vacation email cleanup!
Here's an example of why this is nice.  I was able to quickly click on the PMI sender,  and move all seven of those messages into a folder within seconds.    Even better was taking a break to read all the Dilberts....click on Dilbert under Sender,  just see those messages,  and chuckle through them all in less than a minute.      I know I can do this in my old inbox by sorting on sender -- but I tend to get distracted by seeing the messages around each sender,  plus I'd tend to approach it by alphabetical order, rather than volume.    This view helps me stay focused,  make a decision on what to look at RIGHT NOW,  and then do that...and nothing else.    The more I use this,  the more I like it.  

Beth Benoit | 5 January 2015 11:41:01 AM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

Because I'm on IBM SmartCloud Notes now,   I was eligible to participate in the IBM Verse beta -- and it was turned on for me last week.      Yesterday folders made their way into the service,  which is the one thing I needed for the beta to be usable for me.  

The first thing I like about IBM Verse is that it is SO EASY to delete email.    There's a list of emails in the left pane.  If I see one I know I do NOT want to read,  I just click the trash can that pops up when I move the mouse over that subject line.    One click, boom, GONE.   I don't even have to look at a preview.     I can clear the cruft out of my inbox in a minute...even with the influx of Christmas  "special offer" emails.  

The second thing I like is the "Important to me" capability.   When I first brought up IBM Verse,  it loaded up bubbles with pictures of the people I interact with most often,  based on an analysis of my email.    It did a pretty darn good first approximation - it missed my new boss,  but I haven't had that many email interactions with him yet.  It was quick and easy to load up my peers and my boss as people important to me,  so that anything new that comes in from them sets a red "pay attention to me" flag over their picture.     When I click on their picture,  it shows me all the email from them,  ordered by when it was sent...today, yesterday,  this week...even if I've filed it out of my inbox. Now when I want to find that message my boss sent last week with a request...one click, and there it is.  No need to open a folder (or two or three) and sort by sender.    

The third thing I found that was sweet was a translation capability.    I work with clients and account teams all over the world,  and it's not unusual for me to get forwarded a long thread that has a significant portion in a language I cannot read.   I used to cut and paste chunks of those into IBM's translation service -- but now I don't have to.   I selected the message,  right moused for more options,  chose Translate to English.....and voila....I was still right there in the message,  at the point in the thread where it started to be in Spanish,  but now it was in pretty darn understandable English.     Even though I knew what the client was upset about,  once I read the translation I understood more of the nuances of WHY they were upset.   I can advocate for them more effectively as a result.    Talk about a delighter --in place translation was a benefit I did not expect.  Nice job IBM Verse team!  

Beth Benoit | 19 December 2014 03:04:26 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

 I took a total break from email over an extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  When I got back to work on Tuesday and logged into Notes the first thing I saw was the mail jail warning. .   As I slogged through 300+ unread emails, deleting and archiving like mad, I found a note from the CIO's office (sent after I had stopped reading email the previous Wednesday) that I was going to be migrated to IBM SmartCloud Notes Tuesday evening, December 2nd.    That night!  

This was great news -- I've been asking to be moved to SmartCloud Notes for years.  It's been embarrassing to work with SmartCloud Notes clients and not be on the service myself.   It was also great news because IBM SmartCloud Notes has a MUCH bigger quota than the lousy 400MB I'd been living with on the IBM CIO servers.     I stopped worrying about being in mail jail.  

I expected this move to be a yawner, and it was.  

Wednesday morning I started up my Notes client  30 minutes before my first meeting.   There was the expected Welcome to SmartCloud Notes subject at the top of my Normal Priority email,   pointing me to a URL for instructions on how to re-configure my Notes client and my mobile device.    The instructions were easy to follow.  It only took about 20 minutes to have my Notes client reconfigured for SmartCloud. 

It took a little longer for my Traveler device -- mostly because I tried to follow the Android instructions for an iphone (proving I am a typical user who can't follow instructions),  and also because I entered the Application password into my mobile device with the spaces.   The spaces are displayed for readability when the service gives you the generated Application password,, but they are not part of the password.  Oops! 

I've been on the service for almost a week now, and frankly I can't tell the difference.    Which is a good thing!  

Beth Benoit | 8 December 2014 12:47:15 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

On November 18th,  IBM had a major announcement about email -- and it was NOT a yawner, really!     It's called IBM Verse,  and I've already put in my begging notice to get on the beta ASAP.

IBM Verse brings the power of Analytics (think Watson),  to your inbox and calendar.   It learns what is important to you,  and to keep those projects and people center stage.  I love the tight interface with Connections -- since I now live almost equally in Connections and Email,  I'm looking forward to having all those capabilities on one screen.     If you'd like to see a demo,  there's a 3 minute video up on YouTube:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XL5tgpZmpk

I also started re-listening to my audiobook of Getting Things Done by David Allen this week.     It really struck me that the core of what he teachers,   of making sure the important stuff gets scheduled and having a trusted store,   is something I could implement right now,  between my Lotus Notes email/calendar  and IBM Connections Cloud activities.    I think IBM Verse will make it even easier -- but my goal is do the due diligence in my inbox and Connections now.  No point putting it off!  

If you want to see the whole announcement about IBM Verse:    that's up on YouTube too:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1nsDgl5eB8

Beth Benoit | 21 November 2014 11:11:52 AM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

Next week,  on November 18th, IBM is making a big announcement -- about a big leap forward in personal productivity tools -- if you're on Twitter,  you probably have seen the #NewWayToWork hashtag showing up.     Based on everything I've seen (they've given IBMers SOME previews),   I can't wait.     If you use IBM Notes or IBM Connections Cloud,  ask your favorite IBMer what all the buzz is about,  and see if you can't get in, either to the event itself or into the Livestream.  

In the last couple weeks,  in spite of my putting new mail rules in place, being ruthless about filing and deleting,  and using instant messaging or IBM Connections whenever possible instead of email, my inbox  got out of control.   I was missing email messages sent by clients because I wasn't scrolling down far enough to see that I had new messages I hadn't opened yet.    I've been feeling like my job description is "reads and writes in email all day, every day."   It's ridiculous.  

 I am looking forward to seeing the Livestream event,   and hoping that I'll get to experience the new capabilities myself  -- and soon!  

Beth Benoit | 12 November 2014 05:05:46 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

Every few years I decide it's time to listen again to Getting Things Done (by David Allen)  on audio.  Like many people,  my time management skills wan over time, and I find a need a refresher.    

I've decided it's time for me to listen again  (as soon as I finish listening to The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden,  by Jonas Jonasson  -- which I'm finding just as delightful as his first novel) -- but this time,  I want to do this a little differently.    I've decided I want to have my "trusted repository" of things to do recorded as "to do's" in IBM Connections Cloud.     Last time I did it using the capabilities of BM Lotus Notes -- using to-do's,  and flags on email.    The flood of email has increased so rapidly,  that it's no longer possible for that to work well.    

First step,  I've created an activity to hold my projects and notes and to-do's.       After this it will be interesting to see how much I remember about implementing GTD!

Image:Getting Things Done with IBM Connections Cloud

Beth Benoit | 6 November 2014 11:11:45 AM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

One of the things I am trying to train myself to do is to spend less time in email,  and more in IBM Connections.  I've realized that I start my day by checking 1) my calendar (in case a meeting got moved) on my mobile before I leave home and 2) my inbox....and then much later  3) my @mentions and Notifications in IBM Connections (IBM's on premises version) which is where I work with colleagues and 4)  my @mentions and notifications in IBM Connections Cloud,  which is where I work with my clients.

What I really want to do is re-order that.....so I do 1) Calendar,  2) IBM Connections Cloud,  3) IBM Connections,  and 4) email.      Right now I have IBM Connections Cloud sending me email about everything.   In fact,  I recently went in and toggled my settings to get notified about every change in communities,  because I missed seeing a question in a forum that I should have replied to immediately.     The good news is that IBM Connections Cloud gives us options on what to get an email about,  and how often.   These are my current settings.  

Image:IBM Connections Cloud -- relying on @mentions and notifications...but still using emali as a backup

My goal is to get to the point that I can choose "No Email" on content I am following,  and  just Daily Newsletters on mentions and responses.    

Beth Benoit | 29 October 2014 01:18:41 PM ET | | Comments (1) | Permanent Link

IBM Connections Cloud makes an assumption that the people who use it will behave in a businesslike manner.   Sometimes that isn't a good assumption, especially in the early stages of adoption.   I once had a client contact me,  quite upset,  wanting to know why IBM had renamed one of her users "Darth Vader".    Of course IBM hadn't done that -- the user had.   He didn't realize anyone would notice!  

Letting users modify their personal information in Profiles is generally a good thing.  When an Administrator provisions a user with their name not quite right -- the user can fix it.     If IT used the HR record as the data source, and provisioned a user as Robert,   he can change it to Bobby without a call to IT.    

This is great, but this week I had a user complaint that the name change wasn't working everywhere.  So I did an experiment.   I changed my first name in Connections Cloud to "Beth Ann"  to see how fast it started showing up.    In some places it happened very quickly -- in Files and Activities, for instance.    The old name persisted in my Community list,  and in my activity stream.     I tried logging in on a different browser -- no luck.      it took almost 24 hours before new postings in my Activity stream started showing up with my new name.    (Old postings won't change to the new name,  as they are historical records.)    

The developer who got my client complaint changed his first name to Elvis as an experiment to see this first hand.   It should be fun to see the ribbing he gets in the 24 hours it takes for Elvis to "leave the building".  
 
                                                                                     Elvis at Computer  

Beth Benoit | 17 October 2014 04:46:42 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

This week I had an IBM Connections Cloud client ask me a really simple question,  and I am quite embarrassed that I did not know the answer.

My client wanted to use the collaborative editing capabilities of IBM Docs.     The initial question from him late one evening was "I thought if I uploaded a file into a community,  everyone would have access to use Docs to edit it?"    Which sounds pretty darn reasonable -- except he couldn't get it to work.  

We had some back and forth over the next two days, to try to figure this out.   We verified the following:

1)  everybody in the community had a Docs subscription
2)  the maximum number of concurrent editors is ~15,  so he hadn't exceeded a limit on simultaneous editors  
3)  all members of the community were authors (or owners)
4) the file had been directly uploaded into the community -- it wasn't in a user's Files and shared with the community as "reader"
5) The file was a Docs supported file type
6)  the file was not locked  

Finally he had a brainstorm,   and I found the two key sentences in our documentation which confirmed he was right:

After you upload Open Document Format documents or other document file types to your files list, you can import them so that you and others can work with them in web browsers. ...        Click Edit in Docs or View to automatically import the file into Connections Docs format.

In other words,  if you're going to do collaborative editing on a file you've imported into IBM Connections Cloud, YOU have to View or Edit the file in Docs before anyone else can access the file in Docs.    Development tells me that the reason for this is that once you convert to Docs format,  you can't upload another file to replace it -- so the owner has to be the one to acknowledge that future edits will be via Docs.     This may change in future.    

Clearly I need to spend more time using Docs with my co-workers!  

Beth Benoit | 10 October 2014 04:46:34 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

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