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  • Wearing Different Hats

    I'm fairly new to GTD, I have read several of the books, have implemented a system and have a basic understanding. My question is this? I have several employers and I don't do the same types of work for all of them. Using the location lists (@home, @ phone, @ boss etc.) I'm finding it bulky to wade through all my To Do list to find what I need to do at each workspace. Would it be easier for me to keep a separate set of lists for each employer or would that make it even more confusing? Any more experienced GTD entrepreneurs care to weigh in? Thanks.

  • #2
    Originally posted by bkmaxfield View Post
    I'm fairly new to GTD, I have read several of the books, have implemented a system and have a basic understanding. My question is this? I have several employers and I don't do the same types of work for all of them. Using the location lists (@home, @ phone, @ boss etc.) I'm finding it bulky to wade through all my To Do list to find what I need to do at each workspace. Would it be easier for me to keep a separate set of lists for each employer or would that make it even more confusing? Any more experienced GTD entrepreneurs care to weigh in? Thanks.
    You don't say where you do work, or what tools you are using, but...
    If you work at different physical locations for each employer, than it would be natural to have a separate list for each location, yes? If you do work for an employer at home, it still may be useful to have a list for that: @home-dynacorp or whatever you like. You don't have one boss, so @boss does you no good, right? You probably don't want to make a call for one job when you're supposed to be working on another one, so @phone may not be for you (especially if you use a cellphone all the time). You need to customize your lists in a way that helps you, using as few as possible, but not less. If you have multiple locations, I would have a list for each location and go from there.

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    • #3
      What I do, and which works well for me, is I have ten different tags for ten different hats - and the hats correspond exactly to the Areas of Responsibility (roles; "quasi titles") that I have defined for myself. These hats are not tied to any particular location or any particular tools or any particular people or any particular task type.

      Six of my areas are business related. One of them I call Consultant (selling my time), another one Trader (buying and reselling assets). Most clients/cases/deals fall under either of these two roles. Then I have defined two separate areas for two different partner ventures where I have ongoing roles. Etc.

      I do not use many of the standard sample contexts, but I do use some location contexts, such as errands, office1, office2, home etc. and I use those to mark those particular tasks that need be done in those locations. I also have people tags, but only about 20 for very frequent collaborators, plus a few generic "people type" tags, e.g supplier, client (and write the name in the task).

      I agree with mcogilvie that tags such as boss may be a bit unspecific in your case, but unless you must do all your work for a given client at their location, then it just might be confusing to use a location context for all the work that is done for that client - then maybe you'd be better off having separate role tags like I do (perhaps even specific client tags?). But if you usually go there and do the work there, then location and client coincide fully.

      Are you doing this on paper, or can you view your tasks from different angles?

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      • #4
        Another idea... I employ two tags - business and personal - and can therefore apply a simple filter to switch between the two. This helps me avoid using duplicated lists or contexts. If the tool you are using has a tag feature this could be expanded for each workplace.

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        • #5
          More information

          Job #1, I pet sit. I have about 25 clients and am my own boss. Job #2 I work as a secretary/office manager for a small church. I do work for church board members, church attendees, the pastor, non-profits we interact with and the public. Job #3 I work as a bookkeeper for a local non-profit. Job#2 and Job#3 joined in partnership recently and I am the unofficial liaison between them. Jobs #2 and #3 also involve various "off duty" events: fund raisers, receptions, meetings. I also volunteer as the Financial Secretary at my church (a different one) which involves monthly meetings, and 2 hours weekly of data entry and report preparation. These are small organizations in a small community, which should be a piece of cake because I used to work as a project secretary for a 50 person office in the city, but I had a small stroke two years ago (i'm 42, sucks right?) and I get confused when I have too much coming at me and things have been falling through the cracks.

          I currently use a paper system, because I prefer a month at a glance calendar, and I color code. My cell is not smart, I'm hoping it will be soon. All advice is very appreciated.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by bkmaxfield View Post
            Job #1, I pet sit. I have about 25 clients and am my own boss. Job #2 I work as a secretary/office manager for a small church. I do work for church board members, church attendees, the pastor, non-profits we interact with and the public. Job #3 I work as a bookkeeper for a local non-profit. Job#2 and Job#3 joined in partnership recently and I am the unofficial liaison between them. Jobs #2 and #3 also involve various "off duty" events: fund raisers, receptions, meetings. I also volunteer as the Financial Secretary at my church (a different one) which involves monthly meetings, and 2 hours weekly of data entry and report preparation. These are small organizations in a small community, which should be a piece of cake because I used to work as a project secretary for a 50 person office in the city, but I had a small stroke two years ago (i'm 42, sucks right?) and I get confused when I have too much coming at me and things have been falling through the cracks.

            I currently use a paper system, because I prefer a month at a glance calendar, and I color code. My cell is not smart, I'm hoping it will be soon. All advice is very appreciated.
            You need @Out(Pets), @church1, @church2 for sure. With a paper system, you want separate project support pages for everything, e.g., each pet, and agenda pages for each individual and group you work with. If you work at a home desk on #2 and #3, you may want to separate them out for your convenience. If the books are done at their respective locations, you naturally have separate lists for that kind of work.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by bkmaxfield View Post
              I'm finding it bulky to wade through all my To Do list to find what I need to do at each workspace.
              When you look through lists to find out what you need to do, notice what types of things you're looking for. Over time, notice what types of things you often look for in your lists. Then, design lists to hold those types of things. For example, if you're often looking for "things to do for church#1 while I'm located at church#1" then you could make a list just for that. It may take some experimenting to find what lists work well for you. For example, I used to have an "anywhere" list of things I could do anywhere, but I got rid of it because after a while I found I was never doing things on that list. You can decide what exceptions are OK: for example, in an unusual situation you might need to comb through more than one list looking for things to do, but if this doesn't happen often enough to bother you then you may not need to change your situation to accommodate it.

              One way of thinking of it is: when you're going to add an action to a list, think "Where and under what circumstances will I be when I'll want to do this? Do I actually have a habit of consulting a list when I'm in that situation? Which list?" Lists might be keyed to places, or times (e.g. "when I'm working"), or what type of work you want to do at a certain time. It might not be just a place.

              If some situations will only have a very small number of actions, you might not want to maintain a separate list for them. Do it if it works well for you.

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              • #8
                Contexts!

                In GTD, the primary definition of "context" is about your tools and location, but the underlying purpose of contexts is to figure out which next actions it's appropriate for you to perform. If you work for yourself it may be not be necessary to separate your home- and work-related contexts, but when you are getting paid for your time, it's usually not appropriate to work on other stuff while you are on the clock. Even if you do work from home, you may have decided to set some boundaries and separate your work time from your personal and family time.

                Since those distinctions determine which next actions you should be working on, they are really contexts, even if it's less about the tools you have at hand than it is about your obligation to be working for the current client. So absolutely you should organize your next actions by context. You may want to break it down within that, like @client1-calls, @client1-focus, @client2-calls, @client2-focus, @home-focus, @home-paperwork, @errands. But only break it down to a level that's useful for your situation to help group your next actions together. In other words, do it for productivity, not just for the sake of having a system.

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