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  • Group tasks by project or by context? Or both?

    OK, after making an earlier post, I think I've clarified my dominant question about GTD:

    Projects generate tasks. So do i list my NA's by project, or context, or both? I.e., do you have your list of projects, each with NA's under them, and THEN also add the NA's to whatever context list they belong to? Just curious to see how people are doing this, and many thanks!

  • #2
    I guess I should also add that i'm always with my computer, NEARLY always online, and always have a phone on me, so maybe for me, those particular contexts aren't that critical...

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    • #3
      Outlook Add-In plus

      One of the great aspects of the GTD Outlook Add-In is that you can switch back and forth, at will, between grouping NAs by context and grouping NAs by project.

      I have not yet read Sally McGhee's new book about a GTD-like system in an Outlook environment. Maybe she has other suggestions.

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      • #4
        Re: Outlook Add-In plus

        Thanks Moises...I should have mentioned I use a Mac! And as much as I LOVE Entourage, I'm going to give the notebook/folders concept a try...so assuming you're using a paper system, any further ideas? I'm truly perplexed as to how people group their NA's!

        Originally posted by moises
        One of the great aspects of the GTD Outlook Add-In is that you can switch back and forth, at will, between grouping NAs by context and grouping NAs by project.

        I have not yet read Sally McGhee's new book about a GTD-like system in an Outlook environment. Maybe she has other suggestions.

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        • #5
          Next actions and projects

          Hi Charles,

          I list my next actions by context. However, for each next action, I have the project name in brackets, per the pig-pog method. One can do a quick search then in Outlook to have the listing of next actions under each project. I do not have the add-in software, so this works fine for me.

          Longstreet

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          • #6
            Re: Next actions and projects

            Ah, that's VERY helpful, thanks so much!

            Originally posted by Longstreet
            Hi Charles,

            I list my next actions by context. However, for each next action, I have the project name in brackets, per the pig-pog method. One can do a quick search then in Outlook to have the listing of next actions under each project. I do not have the add-in software, so this works fine for me.

            Longstreet

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            • #7
              Glad to have helped...

              Here is a link to the description of the pig-pog method.

              http://pigpog.com/michael/blog/2004/...pog-method.php

              The one modification I have made is that I don't necessarily limit having only one next action active per project. It works for me, particularly when I do the search in Outlook to see all of my pending next actions per project. I also still maintain a list of supporting projects in Outlook for each of my Meaningful Objectives, per the methods described by Sally McGhee in her new book, which is setting up Outlook for GTD-like approaches. If there is an important sequence, I may set different due dates for each next action and also make notes in the notes section of a particular next action reminding me of what I should pursue next.

              Best regards,
              Longstreet

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              • #8
                Re: Next actions and projects

                This is where software rules, IMO. It is great to have projects with their associated actions outlined for planning and review purposes, and purely context-driven lists of NAs for runway-level doing. The software I use does both, with no redundant input required.

                There's no one right way to set up the contexts you need. One context ("@Work"?) might include everything you need to do with your computer, or online, or with a phone. I personally keep a separate @Calls list, even though I have my mobile with me all the time. I don't know why, but I just like seeing calls actions separately from others. Some people get quite fancy with contexts -- e.g., @Office-15Minutes, @Office-LowEnergy. With a paper system, it seems like it would be a pain to maintain many different context lists, but it can be easy with the right software. But it still all depends on what level of contexts benefit you.

                -andersons

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                • #9
                  I use the pigpog method with a keyword for each project name (e.g., Smith: Draft correspondence to client regarding settlement). I keep my next actions organized by context because I generally group activities, such as making telephone calls and reading e-mail even though several contexts may be accessible at the same time. However, when I need an overview of next actions by project, I can filter by keyword.

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                  • #10
                    Life Balance for the Mac & Windows. (and the Palm, with excellent synchronization) does a fantastic job of connecting Next Actions by Project (in its Outline View) and by Context (in its To-Do List View). I use the Mac version and when you click on a task in To Do List, then switch to Outline View, it takes you right to the task in the Outline. So you always can know why you are doing any specific Next Action. Search on this site or at llamagraphics.com for more info on how to use it for GTD.

                    George

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                    • #11
                      HandyShopper (Palm freeware) lets me attach multiple labels to actions. So I label each action with (1) context and (2) project. This way it's easy to flip between the two views -- I can see all the actions for a given context; alternatively I can see all the actions for a given project.

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                      • #12
                        I've been using GTD for 6 months now and the way I've got it set up is to allow both a "context" view and "projects" view, by using Bill Kratz's method, described at the link below. (I think his first name is Bill, apologies if I got this wrong) This approach uses the existing features of MS Outlook and best of all costs nothing (Except your time...)

                        http://home.comcast.net/~whkratz/id3.htm

                        To summarise, this approach has you create your Projects as Contacts in Outlook. You can then create a task that has a context using the category field, and a project link, using the contact field.

                        I then set up 2 custom views in My Outlook task list that use the "Group by box" to give me the view I want. Save each of the views and hey presto!

                        The other advatage of this, is that I can look at everything I have outstanding on a project on the contact's "Activities" tab and also add tasks for each project right from this form. Excellent when a next action just pops into your head (as they often do )

                        You can even create your own custom forms to create a streamlined look (I'd strongly suggest you do this.) I downloaded the sample form on Bill's site and it works a treat for me.

                        One disadvantage of this method is if you use a PDA. I do (Pocket PC 2002) and I only get to see my tasks without the link to a project when I'm away from my desk. The pig pog method is much better in overcoming this limitation as the project name is listed right next to the task. For me and the work I do, this is not too much of a problem, so I've stuck with the "contacts" method described above.

                        Hope this helps!

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                        • #13
                          I've just started doing this but so far it works great.

                          I'm using Outlook and instead of folders, I use Categories. I have project categories and context categories (in outlook a task can be assigned to multiple categories).

                          So whenever I create a task I just select the categories it belongs to, i.e. the project and the context.

                          And so when I click on a context, I see all the NAs related to that category, and likewise, when I click on a project, I can see all the NAs assigned to that project.

                          (another great feature is that in each view, you can sort by category, so when i click on a project, I can see all the NAs and the context where they can be completed. --> this also means that if I click on a context view, I can also see which projects each NA belongs to).

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                          • #14
                            Just to share how I group tasks by project.

                            In Tasks in Outlook I select view by category, then I select view, arrange by, and then custom. Select Fields and user defined fields and create new field, name this field project type keyword, format text.

                            Then I go to group by and group by this project field. Make sure show field in view is selected.

                            Click ok and you will see this new column in your view. I then copy all project names to appropriate tasks and this will show all tasks for each project.

                            You can make this a permanent view by following the directions in outlook help.

                            I created this using Outlook 2003, not sure if it works under previous versions.


                            CHeers


                            Johann

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                            • #15
                              Thanks for the link to Kranz's idea. I don't want to use Outlook again; I'm testing Agendus (Handspring Visor). Using Contacts this way lets me link a todo both ways (context and project). I don't have the problem, though, of not being able to see the tasks w/o the project.

                              A very nice find.

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