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  • Help, my @computer list is too long

    I work at my computer all day long and almost all of my tasks have to be done online at the computer (I'm a financial controller so I look at spreadsheets and email all day long). Does anyone have other contexts idea for helping categorize the @computer list? I have over 100 items on this list and it is just too overwhelming to look at regularly. However based on the theory I'm not supposed to break it up into "projects" just context I have a hard time subdividing my next action lists. I tried @computer-email, @computer-online. I guess I'd love to hear about other people's experience in subdividing this list. Thanks!

  • #2
    Two things help me in creating contexts. What kind of thinking do I need to do, and how long does it take me to get in/out of that mode of thinking?

    I've had good results with dividing my @Computer list into contexts based on the programs I use. I find that my mindset for using a particular program can take me a few minutes to get into. Once I'm in that mode of thinking, it's productive for me to do a group of next actions that require that particular way of thinking. That spreads the switching cost out, sort of like allocating overhead to more profit centers.

    For example, I do a lot of reports in QuickBooks, often exporting to Excel to further sort the data. I have an @QuickBooks context. I also use a database query program to collect and group data from our eCommerce program, so I call that @SQL.

    But more important than thinking about the program to set the context is thinking about how I think when I use various programs. Some of the thinking is sequential, so I need to be in a thinking mode to follow steps 1, 2, 3, etc in precise order. The SQL query work is like that. But some work at the computer is more associative, where I'm clicking on different site links to explore various ways of conceptualizing something. That might be a context called @WebSurfing.

    Those contexts require that I'm at the computer, and online. But they are more specialized subdivisions than the general @Computer and @Online contexts.

    I hope that's helpful. Good questions. I'm looking forward to what others say in response to your post.

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    • #3
      I broke out email and web as separate lists to keep my computer list short. Not only does this put together somewhat similar next actions, it also tends to group next actions with similar time and energy requirements. Those categories won't work for everyone, but I think the underlying idea would.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by smathews View Post
        Does anyone have other contexts idea for helping categorize the @computer list?
        My primary separation is by which computer is the minimum required to do the task. So I have @iPad, @iPhone, @MacBook and @Mac. I have an @Computer Internet top category as well. Within these I sort again by application program, so I have @Scrivener, @Omnifocus, @Silhouette, @LightRoom & Photoshop, @LibreOffice etc all within my @Mac context. Within the @Computer Internet I have @e-mail, @safari, @fetch and @GoDaddy as examples.

        Sure some things can go in several places. My @Safari context has all the web surfing or google research stuff, I can usually do that on any of my devices but the context is in the @Mac context for simplicity.

        That's what is working for me right now. In the past I separated @Computer stuff by how much energy I thought the task would take or how much thinking was required. That works sometimes but not as well for me as by application.

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        • #5
          I would agree with John (and others) that contexts by the type of application/thinking work well. I have an @websites context separated out from my office list, as these tasks often require me to be in the right frame of mind for website design/updates and also need larger blocks of time. The items are rarely a 5 min job and I don't want to have to stop once I have started, as it is tough to chop and change out of website thinking. There is also the very practical side that once I have made certain changes and saved them, they will upload within X amount of time and I need to be certain that all the changes that I want to make are ready before the upload!

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