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Breathlessly Insanely Fast

Improving your productivity with Lotus Notes 8.5 – Part 1


This article is the first in a series designed to help you gain the most productivity from properly utilizing the rich functionality built into the Lotus Notes 8.5 client. The Lotus Notes 8.5.x client offers numerous features that can significantly improve productivity. It was rewritten in the Eclipse platform starting in release 8.0. One of the reasons was to make it more usable and feature rich for customers.

IBM did a tremendous amount of usability testing with the Notes client when it decided to rewrite and redesign the client interface. The focus of the rewrite was to make the client more powerful and easier to navigate. I think you’ll be amazed at the amount of functionality you’re not using that will make your life easier and enable you to be much more productive.

I’ve been doing a lot of end user training for customers lately. The 8.5.x Notes client is warmly welcomed and users are very happy with the extended functionality.

Right Sidebar Panel

In part one of my article series, I want to introduce you to the right sidebar panel. This is one of the most popular enhancements to the Notes client, making employees’ lives easier as data they need is pushed to them and at their fingertips on demand. The right sidebar panel includes direct access to:

  • Sametime Contacts
  • Day-At-A-Glance
  • Feeds
  • Activities

Before I get into the details of these options, let’s take a quick look at the right sidebar panel shown in Figure 1. In this example, I show Sametime Contacts, Feeds and Day-At-A-Glance. Sametime Contacts lets me see who’s online and what their status is so I can instantly communicate with my colleagues—all without leaving my Notes client, open another application or switch to a different view. Regardless of whether I’m working in my mail file, calendar, contacts or a custom Lotus application, I have quick and easy access to my Sametime contacts in my right sidebar panel at all times. This saves a lot of time as I don’t have to switch to a separate application to collaborate with my coworkers.

Feeds offer me the capability to check to see if there are items in blogs I subscribe to. I love this capability as I don’t have to go out to a blog site to see if there’s new content. That information is pushed to me via my feed subscriptions.

Day-At-A-Glance offers a quick look at my calendar without having to actually open it. Regardless of which application I am working in, I have instant access to my calendar.

If you have an Activities server, you can work with your activities in the right sidebar panel as well.

Becoming Productive with Day-At-A-Glance

Day-At-A-Glance provides a quick look at your calendar regardless of what other application you’re working with. This is possible due to the mini view of your calendar that Day-At-A-Glance provides. You can view any day on your calendar and easily switch to viewing any given day by clicking on it in the monthly calendar view at the bottom. In the example shown in Figure 2, I’m showing the calendar details for Nov 9.

The view in Figure 2 is the Summary view, which shows a listing of your calendar entries for a given day in chronological order. You can alternatively click the menu icon and select to have your calendar entries in your Day-At-A-Glance shown in the Timeslot view by selecting the timeslot option as shown in Figure 3. Choosing this view results in Day-At-A-Glance displaying your calendar as shown in Figure 4. I personally find the Summary view more useful because of the limited screen real estate.

Figure 3 shows several other actions you can take directly from your Day-At-A-Glance by clicking the menu icon in the upper right corner. By clicking New, you can choose to create a new calendar entry, to do list entry, e-mail, contact or group without having to switch to those applications. You can also copy an existing calendar entry into a new e-mail or a new to-do entry directly from the Day-At-A-Glance menu button. You can even open your main calendar with a simple click.


Kim Greene is the owner of Kim Greene Consulting Inc. and an IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems—IBM i edition technical editor. Kim can be reached at



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