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How to choose the right context?

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  • How to choose the right context?

    I have a next action to browse the Internet for some information. I can do it on my Mac and my iPad. Should I put it into @Mac Online or @iPad context or both?

  • #2
    Create a general @online context.

    Originally posted by Kornet View Post
    I have a next action to browse the Internet for some information. I can do it on my Mac and my iPad. Should I put it into @Mac Online or @iPad context or both?
    Create a general @online context.

    Comment


    • #3
      I currently use a nested @Online context, namely:

      @Online
      @Web browser
      @Email
      etc.
      My understanding is that a context is the one critical/irreducible thing (location or resource) that is required in order to perform a next action. Which means, I suppose, that if there is no single identifiable limiting factor, there is no context (or the context is @Anywhere).

      Nesting seems to be one way to enable you to identify the irreducible limiting factor for a next action (e.g. web browser), while giving you less individual lists to browse when deciding what to do at a broader context level, e.g. I'm in the office and online, so I look at my broader @Office and @Online contexts and I see all the sub-context next actions within.

      I wonder how other GTDers deal with the ambiguities and choices around context buckets?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Kornet View Post
        Should I put it into @Mac Online or @iPad context or both?
        While I don't know your full workflow situation, those two contexts jump out at me as being ripe for trimming down into one. There will always be things that overlap (eg most of the phone calls on my list I end up doing at work). Your contexts should be based on a key indispensable driver. So if you have @Mac, @Mac Online and @iPad, I'd suggest the last two just be @Connected - the point is that you're online not that you're at a particular device.

        It's good that you're asking this question - in my experience getting your contexts exactly right for your personal environment is critical - getting it wrong can mean you get tangled up real quick.

        Good luck!

        Incidentally - I'm not a big fan of nested contexts. The simpler the better, and nesting adds a huge conceptual complexity.

        Comment


        • #5
          First, there will always be some stuff that could be one or the other way around, so if this is a one off thing, then just go with either and don't waste time on it.

          Since you ask the question, it seems reasonable to assume this is a recurring problem. Then I'd ask the question: Where would you do it? If the answer is either, then you seem to need to create a context for stuff that can be done on either the Mac or the iPad. Without knowing what other contexts you have and what tool you use, I could suggest either simply just a new context @Internet, or that you take a step back and look at all your digital contexts and see if you can see what are the limiting factors in your using your digital tools. Maybe you can reduce it all to just simply @Mac and @Internet without the need for any @iPad context or maybe you're better of eliminating both @Mac and @iPad and replacing them with @Internet only, moving a few things to other contexts, depending on what really is your limiting factors.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
            Create a general @online context.
            how to create a online context

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            • #7
              Just create the @online Next Actions list.

              Originally posted by SeanJada View Post
              how to create a online context
              Just create the @online Next Actions list.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                Just create the @online Next Actions list.
                How to create the list
                Last edited by SeanJada; 02-05-2012, 09:30 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                  Just create the @online Next Actions list.
                  OK Thank you,

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Some sites are better suited for iPad and Mac, others for iPhone. Not all of them can be named with @online. IMO.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Petr View Post
                      Some sites are better suited for iPad and Mac, others for iPhone. Not all of them can be named with @online. IMO.
                      So make an @online iPhone, @online mac and @online iPad context. If you need more then add them.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If you're having trouble choosing between contexts, imagine yourself doing the task. Which context are you in? That's a good clue to which context to pick. In your case, which device do you see yourself using?

                        --Marc

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mattsykes View Post
                          Incidentally - I'm not a big fan of nested contexts. The simpler the better, and nesting adds a huge conceptual complexity.
                          I guess it depends how your brain works. I've found the opposite - I actually found it easier to select a context once they were more carefully broken down, and I'm MUCH more inclined to look at my lists when they don't contain stuff I can't do.

                          I like nested contexts, on the condition that I can also see a combined view, which I can in Omnifocus. It solves the either/or debate for me, because when something could be in 2 different subcontexts, it just goes into their parent and I'll see it when I'm in either of those contexts.

                          I have @OSX to differentiate a desktop/laptop computer from an @IOS device. The @OSX combined view allows me to see everything I need to do at a 'proper' computer, but if I'm in @Excel doing one task, I might as well knock a couple of other little ones off at the same time. On the other hand, if I could do a task on any computing device, it'll go directly to @Computer.

                          On that same basis, @OSX and @iOS have subs that are specific to each machine, where I might need to install a program on a particular machine, but most tasks don't end up going that deep into the hierarchy. It does save me running around the house though, which means the tasks are more likely to get done in the 2 minutes I'm on that particular device.

                          I also have @Surfing with @Full Browser sub, since most surfing can be done on any computer but requires an internet connection. I don't tend to surf on my iPhone much as my iPad is always nearby, but if I did, I'd just add a @BigScreen between @Surfing and @Full Browser.

                          So I've got:

                          @Computer
                          - @OSX
                          - - @Mac Pro
                          - - @MacBook Pro
                          - - @Server
                          - - @Excel/Word
                          - - @Lightroom
                          - - @Parallels/Windows
                          - - (a few other software groupings)
                          - @iOS
                          - - @iPad
                          - - @iPhone
                          - @Surfing
                          - - @Full Browser

                          Picking a context is quite easy at that point - they simply go in the highest common denominator. If I know I'll need a specific machine, I'll put it straight there, but generally they'll end up in@OSX or @Surfing unless there's a reason to put them in a subcontext.

                          Maybe I'm complicating things, but making that change clicked for me. I started working off my lists once I'd done that.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Petr View Post
                            Some sites are better suited for iPad and Mac, others for iPhone. Not all of them can be named with @online. IMO.
                            OK what is your problem..

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              deleted online as a context altogether

                              I don't actually have @online as a context anymore... I almost always have internet access regardless of my physical location... even driving in the middle of nowhere California! Even in most elevators!

                              And just writing that kind of freaks me out - but in a Glinda-the-Good-Witch not a Wicked-Witch-of-the-West kind of way. Oh, what a world! What a world!

                              My goal is to have every app I use be available on all of my devices, with all of my documents accessible all the time. And I'm almost there. (Maybe someone could talk to Adobe about that for me...)

                              So, have I streamlined? Or have I, in fact, made it more complicated to decide where I do something when location is no longer as relevant?

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