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the one very long @computer list

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  • the one very long @computer list

    Like many other fellows whose work is in the matrix I am searching for a good way to divide my huge @computer list into more manageable chunks. The last weeks I tried out to divide by "energy". It went so-so. Has anyone founf out a good model that works for him/her well? Also, what about dividing by time like in "2 min", "2h" ect anyone tried that? What were your results? Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
    Has anyone founf out a good model that works for him/her well? Also, what about dividing by time like in "2 min", "2h" ect anyone tried that? What were your results?
    I don't like dividing lists by these other dimensions unless the items can appear in more than one list automatically.

    Long lists are fine with me as long as they are roughly sorted by priority (generally, nearest due date first). Also, if there is an efficient way to accomplish the actions, then I want to be able to group them in that efficient way, for example, by project. If 4 @Computer actions pertain to the same programming project, it is more efficient to do those in a 2-hour chunk than to intersperse them with actions to write a report.

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    • #3
      My @computer context is the main context in my work. It would contain almost all my work actions.

      I know that for some that is no problem but for me it starts to resemble a regular "just a big list of to do's".

      I use types of work as context:
      • @email
      • @coding
      • @upload/download
      • @research
      • @review
      • @web page

      This selection also gives me a pretty good energy level look. @coding NA's are better when I have high energy. @research is nice for relaxed work, often. Etc.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Ruud View Post
        I use types of work as context:
        • @email
        • @coding
        • @upload/download
        • @research
        • @review
        • @web page
        I do something similar. I have @home computer, @work computer and @online.

        I can do the online stuff at either PC then.

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        • #5
          Actions by Computer Usage

          My method is similar to Ruud but I use the user interface or type of coding I'll be doing.

          @Clarion - The Clarion development environment
          @VS - Any development that requires I use Visual Studio
          @VSWeb - Any development that requires I use Visual Studio and be online
          @WebDev - Any web development that doesn't require Visual Studio
          @Computer - general work, word processing, spreadsheet, etc.
          @Online - Anything that requires a connection, but is not development

          By breaking it up this way, I've found that I spend more time in a development environment and less time switching between programs. If I can spend four hours "living" in Visual Studio, I can accomplish a lot more than if I had to switch between VS and Clarion every hour or so.

          I guess the question is where are your hard edges when it comes to computer usage? I don't need an @email, I just don't that many actions that would require their own list.

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          • #6
            For me, mental state matters more than specific software tools. So the "@Research" context is different from the "@Email" context, even if sometimes my research involves sending emails to people. Similarly, @Edit can include both computer-based editing and paper-based markup. I have an @Computer context, but mostly use it for administrative tasks and things related to the functioning of the computer itself: software upgrades, modifying templates, transferring stuff from one medium to another, etc.

            Katherine

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            • #7
              Why you want to divide it? Does it make any sense?

              I think @Computer context assumes that you can do whatever (programming, emailing, etc) when you have it by hand. Even if you have a long list it's Ok. First try to use your intuition - what it tells you you should do now next? Then you can have a look at your list for a better option: structure it by using Priority for example (which project is more important for you when you open your list to choose the next action). But there's no need to artificially limit it because it will lead to lack of options you can really do in the moment.

              Regards,

              Eugene.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Getting Things Done, p. 41
                For most of us, however, the number [of Next Actions] is more likely to be fifty to 150. In that case it makes sense to subdivide your "Next Actions" into categories, such as "Calls" to make when you're at a phone or "Project Head Questions" to be asked at your weekly briefing."
                I think the idea of breaking up Just A Big List Of To Do's into smaller chunks is almost inherent to GTD -- and certainly for me adds to its power.

                Sorting and filtering options named are contexts, energy level, priority, to name a few. But they do not have to stop there.

                For knowledge workers too, @office and @home make sense. But so do additional categories, virtual contexts if you like. Eeckberg brilliantly mentions the loss of productivity involved in switching virtual contexts, for example.

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                • #9
                  Splitting @Computer three ways (ish)

                  I tend to split my @computer list into 2, and then subdivide one. Basically it looks like this:

                  @Computer (with a due date) - Things that need to be done in the next two weeks on a specific day (but not a specific time)
                  @Computer (without a due date) - Things that need to be done in the next two weeks - but no specific day or time
                  S/M - Computer - Things I wants to do at some stage in the future

                  I then worry about them in that order, refreshing at my weekly review as appropriate (OK - make that monthly review).

                  hope this helps

                  Nick

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                  • #10
                    First of all thanks to all who responded!

                    Now, let's see what we have got here...

                    1. mental contexts - do group items that require the same mindset. Nice in theory, but only partly so in praxis. Sometimes the mental context is the project or even some higherlevel stuff... But even so, workable it seems...
                    ... yeah, I think I can see that

                    2. Katherine transcents the mental "contexts" even above the semi-physical ones

                    3. Ruud points out that mental states and energy levels seem to be related

                    4. by eckbeerg: "I guess the question is where are your hard edges when it comes to computer usage?" Yes, the hard edges. Email seems to be one of them for me, but other than that... see also why these also can be viewed as bad computer setup http://www.winterspeak.com/columns/082001.html (specially the 'good easy).

                    6. Sorting a context list by urgency. And the warning to not loose the ability to review one's list based on context when adding such further dimension.

                    7. Nobody thinks sorting by total time needed to accomplish is a cool idea.


                    So, what's the next action?

                    Observing myself to find out where my real computer-based hard edges are.


                    From a mailing list: "A context is some restraint that only allows the action to be done in a particular place, time, or with particular resources."

                    The only thing that changes here is "time" for IM and "particular resources" for states inside my head. Energy? And offcourse "time" until the next appointment, the hard landscape.

                    Maybe it is best to routinely schedule actions from one type of work...

                    I dunno.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      energy and granularity

                      Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
                      Maybe it is best to routinely schedule actions from one type of work...
                      I feel your pain. I struggle with this question of contexts, since so much of my work is on a computer. I have recently gone from having @Computer-Work and @Computer-Home contexts to @Computer and @Web (same as @Online of one of above posts). @Computer now subsumes report writing/editing, spreadsheets, other computer technical work, and email. @Web requires a connection.

                      I also realized that my Projects definitions and Next Action granularity were becoming diffuse and repelling me. Merlin Mann at 43Folders had a great set of posts on "Building a better to-do list" that forced me to look at the how granular Project tasks were and how they are worded. (http://www.43folders.com/2005/09/12/...-list-part-i/).
                      He amplifies that "good" NA's are of sufficient granularity that you can do most of them in 15-45 minutes. The longer ones ("Edit Massive Annual Report") might have to be (a) broken down into smaller chunks ("Edit Massive Annual Report-Chapter 1"), (b) these could be subprojects in their own right, and (c) long items that require extended focus--like coding, technical article reading, writing, and editing--can be scheduled into your calendar. The latter works if you honor the sanctity of your calendar (the "hard landscape" in DA-Speak) instead of treating it as another Next Action might-get-to todo list.

                      I also feel that for the items that require high-focus (writing, editing, coding), I need to have high energy, so I need to do them early in the day, preferably before other people get to work.

                      Merlin Mann also has a great post on what he calls "cringe-busting" your Next Action list, which allows you to face and overcome the items on the list on which you procrastinate (http://www.43folders.com/2005/05/23/...our-todo-list/).

                      This is getting off topic, but related to cringe-busting,
                      As I'm reading books on procrastination and focus (eg, Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy, The power of an hour by Dave Lakhani http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...storenow600-20) which are helping me face those cringy tasks, the ones that are mostly high-impact, low-urgency.

                      Hope this helps.

                      Good luck,
                      David.

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                      • #12
                        15 to 45 minutes? Wow. A 45-minute Next Action seems awfully long to me.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Brent View Post
                          15 to 45 minutes? Wow. A 45-minute Next Action seems awfully long to me.
                          Why not if you're going to do it in one "sitting"?

                          E

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                          • #14
                            I can't guarantee that I'll have 45 minutes when next I have a "sitting." If I only have fifteen minutes but my NA is for 45 minutes, I'll be less inclined to do it.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Brent View Post
                              I can't guarantee that I'll have 45 minutes when next I have a "sitting." If I only have fifteen minutes but my NA is for 45 minutes, I'll be less inclined to do it.
                              Right. Which is why "time available" is a key element of DA's prioritization model.

                              If I only have fifteen minutes, there's no point in trying to move tasks requiring extended concentration. Sure, I could create a 15 minute NA -- "review outline," maybe -- but at the end of the 15 minutes I wouldn't really be any further along. I'd be better off banging out a couple of phone calls or digging into my inbox.

                              Katherine

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