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Working by context or by project

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  • Working by context or by project

    Assuming that you have control of your context there are two different way you can work: by firing through all of your next actions in one context or changing your context to work on actions related to a particular project. Which strategy do you employ most often?

    EO

  • #2
    By Context

    By far the vast majority of the time I work by context. It just makes more sense. Say I have several projects active, vaccinate sheep, trim toes, give dewormer, evaluate and weigh. Each of those is a separate project because there are different groups of sheep so different actions for each group. It only makes sense that when I am in the context of outside with help and have all the adult ewes in the sweep that I do everything to them at once, so they get their toes done (to the limits of my back and hands), shots, wormer and weight. The only glitch is when we have run out of sheep patience and then we just stop for the day and do the rest another day and yes my sheep are spoiled.

    I live where I work so I can easily switch contexts but its very inefficient. The only time I get stuck working by project is if I am on a deadline (like tax stuff for the ditch company) and just need to power through it all.
    Last edited by Oogiem; 02-07-2012, 10:09 AM.

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    • #3
      It depends....

      I live and work at home, and I spend most of my life in my office at my main computer, so most of my contexts would be available most of the time.

      If I'm working on a bigger project, I often find it easier to switch context (within reason) than I do to change direction and do a task from a different project. I feel like I've achieved more that way too.

      If I'm doing odd tasks off multiple smaller projects, I'll work by context, knocking off tasks in the same program, batching phonecalls, emails, etc.

      For everything else (i.e. I have to get out of my chair!), it's by context.

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      • #4
        My situation, beahvior and opinion are the basically the same as vbampton's.
        Originally posted by vbampton View Post
        I feel like I've achieved more that way too.
        I would wager it's not only a feeling.

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        • #5
          I often work by context and then by priority. I don't like working for too long on the one project anyway and get bored if I do, so usually prefer to change projects fairly often.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Suelin23 View Post
            I often work by context and then by priority. I don't like working for too long on the one project anyway and get bored if I do, so usually prefer to change projects fairly often.

            Be cool while doing the project time..

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            • #7
              TSA (TesTeq's Secret Algorithm).

              Here is the TSA (TesTeq's Secret Algorithm):
              1. If your last Next Action was standalone (not connected to any Project) and you still have time and energy - do the next Next Action in the same @context.
              2. If your last Next Action was connected to a non-critical Project and you still have time and energy - do the next Next Action in the same @context.
              3. If your last Next Action was connected to a critical Project - do the next Next Action connected to this Project changing @context if necessary.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                Here is the TSA (TesTeq's Secret Algorithm):
                I may need to borrow your secret algorithm if you don't mind - that's great. Very succinctly stated.

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                • #9
                  I would say it mostly comes naturally to me to either stick with the project or the context. I guess it's intuition again, choosing the path with least time and energy wasted on switching focus. What I mean by that is, moving from one project to another in the same context requires energy and time in the changeover, just as moving from one context to another will. At my desk in the office, I will have a telephone available, and making a phone call can hardly even be called changing contexts - however, if I need to walk to another part of the office to talk to someone, it is, and then I would need to balance that against the time and energy wasted in the changeover (both for switching from the current project to another, and then to restart the project again later in that other context).

                  In practice, this means that I tend to follow through with more complicated projects even if context switching is required, since the cost of stopping and starting again on the project is bigger than the cost of changing contexts. For smaller stuff I work more or less exclusively by context. The latter is also true for @Agenda and @Errands, since there, the cost of changing contexts is often so much larger that it outweighs any benefit of not changing projects.

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                  • #10
                    What about using multiple tags?

                    I have an @GTD tag hierarchy, under which I have all my @... context tags. I have many, many other tags of project names, place names, people etc. Non-GTD context tags do not have the "@", so they sort lower and are not grouped in with the GTD tags.

                    It gives me the option to select a context like @Contact, and run through all my calls, text and email actions; or I can select a project that I want to focus on and see all tasks, regardless of context.

                    This is a new approach for me, trying to get back into GTD, again; but it is working better than any other recent attempt.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jrdouce View Post
                      What about using multiple tags?

                      I have an @GTD tag hierarchy, under which I have all my @... context tags. I have many, many other tags of project names, place names, people etc. Non-GTD context tags do not have the "@", so they sort lower and are not grouped in with the GTD tags.

                      It gives me the option to select a context like @Contact, and run through all my calls, text and email actions; or I can select a project that I want to focus on and see all tasks, regardless of context.

                      This is a new approach for me, trying to get back into GTD, again; but it is working better than any other recent attempt.
                      Yes, basically that is what i do with OmniFocus as my tool. I have all Next Actions tagged with context AND linked to a project, so that I can look at any context or combination of contexts and intersect that with focusing on one or more project or group of projects with ease - and when I want to, I can apply a free text filter to that as well.

                      The ability to do that is one thing that has so far kept me from moving my system over to paper only.

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