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  • Action Item Categories

    I have been using many of the “Getting Things Done” principles for several years. I now do most of my work on laptop – so the line is blurred between where I do many things. I find that categories on my action list of @office or @home, don’t really apply…. Any suggestions as to how to better categorize action items?

  • #2
    Originally posted by SalesTrainer
    I have been using many of the “Getting Things Done” principles for several years. I now do most of my work on laptop – so the line is blurred between where I do many things. I find that categories on my action list of @office or @home, don’t really apply…. Any suggestions as to how to better categorize action items?
    Could you decribe the problem a bit more? Why don't they apply? For instance, I carry a laptop, too, but I still do different things at home and at the office. The context isn't different... I'm pretty sure I missed something.

    Tom S.

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    • #3
      I feel the categories don't apply because there is no clear line between things I can do in the office, or things I can do while on the road or at home. For example, if I need to write a proposal, I could do that in the office, at home, or while sitting in a hotel lobby between client appointments.

      Comment


      • #4
        I recall reading suggestions in DA's site and this forum to have an @anywhere context for the type of items you've described. I do this and use priority / urgency to define the order of the list, if needed.

        - MB

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        • #5
          I think one of the main points of action categories is to be able to group similar tasks together so you can do them at the same time (eg. make a group of phone calls or emails at once).

          So, I suggest you make a list of all the main activities you do, and make a @action list suitable for you.

          For instance - writing proposals = @write, perhaps some @research

          Then you still have @email, @phone, @shops...

          Maybe you can have @Word if you use Word a lot and it's easier to check your list for other things that need to be done on Word that you can do while you've got it open.

          Do whatever works for you, and tweak, tweak, tweak...

          Trisha
          http://www.GenesisLifeCoaching.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by SalesTrainer
            I have been using many of the “Getting Things Done” principles for several years. I now do most of my work on laptop – so the line is blurred between where I do many things. I find that categories on my action list of @office or @home, don’t really apply…. Any suggestions as to how to better categorize action items?
            See the discussion thread What @actions do you use? at http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3691

            ----------
            Michael
            Last edited by mscudder; 04-12-2005, 09:20 AM. Reason: added signature

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            • #7
              @Where?

              I don't think the line is blurred at all.

              You say you work from a laptop mostly. a laptop is what? A Computer.

              So here's your list: @COMPUTER. It doesn't matter which computer you are at! Just the same as @PHONE can be your office, home or mobile phone.

              Keep it simple.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by bassdrone42
                I don't think the line is blurred at all.

                You say you work from a laptop mostly. a laptop is what? A Computer.

                So here's your list: @COMPUTER. It doesn't matter which computer you are at! Just the same as @PHONE can be your office, home or mobile phone.

                Keep it simple.
                Simple, but not useless. Having everything in one context sort of defeats the purpose of having contexts.

                In my case, there's a lot of work that I can do anywhere, but only if I remember to take the relevant materials with me. So I have a @read/review context that's separate from my @anywhere context. I'll review the @read/review list to decide what to take with me to the doctor's office, for instance.

                Katherine

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                • #9
                  You could always try “GTD Classic” by simply using a single “Next Actions” (NA) list or category. Breaking up a single NA list into discrete contexts is just a tool to deal with volume and help narrow the choices at the “DO” phase. But, you might find a single NA list more effective.

                  It might also help define your own contexts. Start with a single list and if the volume isn’t overwhelming then go for it.

                  Mark

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SalesTrainer
                    I feel the categories don't apply because there is no clear line between things I can do in the office, or things I can do while on the road or at home. For example, if I need to write a proposal, I could do that in the office, at home, or while sitting in a hotel lobby between client appointments.
                    I see. FWIW I use the simle expedient of assigning multiple categories to the same item. If you are going to assign context based categories and you simply want to see everything you need to when in the correct position to do it, this works reasonably well.

                    You can do this with Outlook and most modern computer-based PIMs. Of course, the standard PDA apps don't let you do it (at least mine don't). I think that you'll find many reasonably priced tools like ShadowPlan and Bonsai well worth it if you decide to go this route.

                    If you find that everything falls into the same categories (like both "home" and "office", my two most common) then you may want to consider whether you actually want your categories to be context based at all. You also might want to consider whether your work life is flowing a bit too much into your home life.

                    Sometimes I figure the best way to use the categories is to put items where you should do them, not where you could do them. Perhaps organizing them based upon "role" rather than location would be a better way to go. My own system is a rough combination of the two. Usually things go where ever it "feels right" both in context and character. I most often have no trouble keeping things prioritized in defferent environments when I do this if I keep my lists short and I go over them in their entirety at least once a day.

                    Tom S.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      @Computer (which one/where/what kind of connection?)

                      You say you work from a laptop mostly. a laptop is what? A Computer.

                      ...


                      Keep it simple.
                      I have actions throughout the system that require different contexts. Personally, the context is defined (first) by location and (second) by tool.

                      So, a website I want to visit is on my
                      @Websites list;
                      An e-mail I need to send later is on my
                      @Computer list;
                      Music I will buy and put on my iPod is on my
                      @Home list
                      and the introduction to the chapter I'm writing is on my
                      @Desk list.

                      Of course, all these next actions can take place @Computer, but I just get real honest on the front end about where I want to see the action the next time. (When I'm the road for 17 nights in a row, I don't want to look at "buy Sting CD" on my @Computer list while I'm flying around the country.)

                      Maybe it's the lazy way, but it works for me...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        @QualityTime

                        Originally posted by SalesTrainer
                        I have been using many of the “Getting Things Done” principles for several years. I now do most of my work on laptop – so the line is blurred between where I do many things. I find that categories on my action list of @office or @home, don’t really apply…. Any suggestions as to how to better categorize action items?
                        Most of my categories are just like what everyone else uses, with @anywhere included.

                        When I broke my foot, I divided @home by floor of my house, because going up and down stairs was painful.

                        I have found that the context @QualityTime works for me to highlight that I need big blocks of time with a clean work surface to get many more complicated next actions done or even well started.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          As others have mentioned, you can add an @Anywhere list. This doesn't mean collapsing everything into one list; it means a separate context named @Anywhere.

                          You can also create broad categories such as @Desk(Home/Office) for items that can be done at a desk either at home or at the office.

                          However, generally, if you have an action that doesn't fit into one of your categories, create a new category.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If you carry a laptop, and don't need anything else besides the laptop to complete an action, then @computer is fine. If you need to be at the office to access something that supports the computer action, then it should go on the @office list, not @computer. If you have a cell phone but need access to your general reference files at home, it should go on the @home list instead of the @calls list.

                            The key is to identify the correct context with no further dependencies, so that actionable and non-actionable items don't become blurred on each list.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              three categories to solve this

                              I had a similar question a few weeks ago, blurry lines stalled progress for me. Here's what I have come up with:

                              @Laptop
                              @Office-Home
                              @Office-Work

                              Generally, when I'm working 'in the office' I'll have my laptop with me. There are tasks that require both the laptop and a physical 'context' to really knock them out. For instance, my next action may be 'submit purchase order' which requires printing off a purchase order that is stored on my laptop for submittal at work. This task would get grouped under the office-work category.

                              For those tasks that only require a laptop, they'll get lopped off in that context.

                              Splitting hairs like this has helped me progress forward with less stress than the prior '@computer' context that was bogging me down.

                              Hopefully this helps.

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