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  • Rethinking contexts

    When I first started GTD, I had all the standard contexts, computer, email, online, etc. But now that I have my iPhone with me wherever I go and I have Internet access pretty much anywhere, I find these contexts not very helpful anymore. I can send email whenever I want, I can use google anywhere as well. I now have 6 main contexts: home, work, calls, errands, waiting for, people (broken up by the actual names). Home, work and call I consider more state of mind than actual physical locations. With my iPhone or Mac at home I can pretty much do anything on my work list and visa versa. With my iPhone I can make a call at any time, but I like to batch process my calls, so it is nice to have them in a separate list.

    At one point I considered dropping contexts altogether, but I think they are still useful for sorting and filtering one big list of tasks. I'm wondering if I should do an even more radical rethinking of my contexts, since the physical barriers that they originally represent have mostly fallen away. Maybe a long and short list for tasks that I estimate will take a long or short time. Difficult or easy, self explanatory. Has anyone rethought their contexts in the light of the always present always online gadget world we live in today?

  • #2
    After reading about and trying various time- and energy-based contexts that other people have proposed, I've settled on breaking my Desk list (@computer) into Desk, Email and Web. Almost all of my quick or low-energy next actions involve either email or the web, and I don't have to think hard about where things go. (Let's see, a next action requiring medium energy and 23 minutes. Hm. Oh, that goes on the "Hm" list) If I want to, I can do web and email from an iThing too.

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    • #3
      Contexts by SW Package

      I sort contexts by software package I need to do them and by whether I need help to do it or it can be done by myself.

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      • #4
        Has anyone rethought their contexts in the light of the always present always online gadget world we live in today?
        Yes and I didn't find it makes that much of a difference. Just because my mobile can do email, doesn't mean I like to process email when standing in the middle of the mall. Other contexts are still very relevant in the way they where before. Am I in the city, at work, at home? The @computer-list contains many tasks which assume always-online, but hey, my computer is always online, so what? Sorry, dude, but just don't see the big change here.

        The huge, very long @computer-list is best dealt with, I found out for me at least, when you weed it out by getting other GTD-lists up to task. For instance, if I know I should do some of them definitely this week, I "tickle" them instead. That way urgency is taken out of the @computer equation an resides in the Tickler instead.

        I am also a very harsh and arrogant pighead towards my someday-maybes. You don't just create a project. And even if I did and then never followed trough, I check my higher-level lists to calibrate my lower-level lists.

        I also schedule 1-2 big projects to create a realistic hard-landscape. If it is a given that I need to work on that project 4 hours every day to meet deadline, then that goes into the calendar, 'cos it's real.

        All this should lead to an @computer-list that may still be long, but is populated with NAs that truly can wait until you get around to doing them. And thus, I just start to work from the top of that list or choose another one, according to the other 3 criteria.

        If I do some @computer tasks and it felt like I wasted my time, this is usually a sign I screwd up at one or more of the aforementioned gatekeepers.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
          Just because my mobile can do email, doesn't mean I like to process email when standing in the middle of the mall.
          This is a very good point, I don't want to spend the whole day checking and sending email. One problem I have with an @computer list is most things I do involve using a computer. I think the @work and @home make more sense. On my @home list are things like "Check the start of the Yankees game on Wed". I can easily do this at work, but I don't feel like I should spend time doing personal tasks at work. Nor work tasks at home.

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          • #6
            I think that you're working your way to a good answer.

            "Work" (and its context) for you may be more of a state of mind than a physical location. Are you most efficient at (not just capable of) jumping from work activities to personal activities just because you are sitting at a computer in your home office? I find that, when I need to do "work," that's takes just about all of my concentration. And, when I switch back to "personal," I focus on that.

            No matter where I am, my boss doesn't watch me 10 hr/day (especially since he works more than 400 miles away from me), but he does expect me to get my day's work done. And I would like to get it done efficiently, so that it doesn't become an 11-hr day!

            I hope this helps.

            Joe

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            • #7
              Email

              Thanks for the ideas. I'm going to try adding an @email list again so I can batch process that like I do my @call list.

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              • #8
                Personal-Anywhere

                Some great answers in this thread so far.

                I have not split out @computer or @calls etc but just have @home and @work. I've got computer(s) at both places and not many phone calls are ever on my list.

                However, I ran into trouble with certain types of personal NAs. For instance, Call the dentist or Email the food delivery to cancel for next week. I could do these any time during the day (say on break at work) but they were personal so not on the work list. I tended not to get to them once I got home so I created a Personal-Anywhere list that I can pick from whenever and whereever. It includes the odd phone call, surfing, email and brainstorming or mind-mapping tasks that don't require anything more than my attention and a phone and/or pen and paper.

                I've also split a section of my @work list off for Professional-Development tasks. I found my list was too long and these types of things are important but rarely urgent (unless I need to complete some units before a looming renewal date!) so it is more a state of mind type of context.

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                • #9
                  I've combined the @Call and @Email lists into an @Contact list. I Call, Email or Text all the same from my phone or my home or work desks.

                  I also have just 1 @Work list, since I agree, it's a mindset and I have all I need at work or at my desk at home.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gnugrep View Post
                    When I first started GTD, I had all the standard contexts, computer, email, online, etc. But now that I have my iPhone with me wherever I go and I have Internet access pretty much anywhere, I find these contexts not very helpful anymore. I can send email whenever I want, I can use google anywhere as well. I now have 6 main contexts: home, work, calls, errands, waiting for, people (broken up by the actual names). Home, work and call I consider more state of mind than actual physical locations. With my iPhone or Mac at home I can pretty much do anything on my work list and visa versa. With my iPhone I can make a call at any time, but I like to batch process my calls, so it is nice to have them in a separate list.

                    At one point I considered dropping contexts altogether, but I think they are still useful for sorting and filtering one big list of tasks. I'm wondering if I should do an even more radical rethinking of my contexts, since the physical barriers that they originally represent have mostly fallen away. Maybe a long and short list for tasks that I estimate will take a long or short time. Difficult or easy, self explanatory. Has anyone rethought their contexts in the light of the always present always online gadget world we live in today?


                    you can try more time to get more expert hand in this...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Contexts

                      I assign contexts based on where I'm most likely to do (insert task). There are certain things - related to work - that I'm more likely to do at home. Those get an @home context. Etc.

                      Truthfully, software is the driving force behind my use of contexts. I was a huge The Hit List fan, but slow progress and possible abandonware led me to Omnifocus. The Omni folks built their software with an implicit understanding that people would work from contexts. C'est la vie, when in Rome...

                      On a day to day basis, I use Mark Forster's DWM system/rules, which provides me with an accurate picture of what I've committed to, and motivation - both push and pull - to get stuff done.

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