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  • One List

    I usea paper (Circa ltr. sz. binder) version of GTD except for my appointments (Blackberry) and my errands (index cards).

    Does anyone just use ONE list and scan down that list when they work in a certain context?

    I find myself forgetting to flip through the pages to view the various lists.

    I'm in outside sales, and sometimes being able to pull out one list to view seems more manageable.

    Thank you!

  • #2
    I don't think it's a good idea.

    Originally posted by gator View Post
    Does anyone just use ONE list and scan down that list when they work in a certain context?
    I don't think it's a good idea. Your list must be several pages long but not divided by context so it must be a real mess in my opinion. And most people are overwhelmed by long lists.

    Comment


    • #3
      I've tried putting my lists in sections on a single sheet of paper. While I liked the idea of having it all in one view, it wasn't maintainable. I tried updating it with pencil/pen on the paper throughout the day and then when it got too messy, updating a Word version and printing out a clean copy. Right now index cards are working - one card per context. If there are too many actions for one card, I've split the context finer.

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      • #4
        At work I only have one list, because 95% of the time I am in the proper context to do most of what I could be doing (For most things all I need is my laptop, possibly some reference notes, and occasionally an internet connection.)

        Also, a lot of my work actions never make it onto the list: I'll do the listed "NA" for a project, and then just keep working on that project without doing "record-keeping" for it on the NA list. I'll try to jot down an NA before moving onto something else, but since that's not always feasible, I check my projects list at the end & beginning of each day to verify that they all have NAs. This works for me because at work I tend to have a small number of projects with a lot of work on each.

        For non-work stuff, I have multiple contexts, each on a separate index card.

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        • #5
          I think that if one list (one context) works for you, then it is fine. Actually, you have two contexts if you include "errands." The details of any GTD system are flexible. It is quite possible, for someone who works from home, for instance, and is almost always within reach of a phone, computer, home office and personal stuff, that they truly have only one context (besides errands). Even if that does not describe your situation, it is fine to have one list if that works for you.

          One problem with the whole concept of context lists is that we still need to decide what context to put ourselves in. I might be working at my computer and checking things off of that list, but if I really should be buying groceries so my family can have dinner tonight, then my @computer context list has failed me. I should have changed my context.

          Putting everything on one list is just a recognition that you may well choose to change context depending on the need. Other people with more separate context lists may perfer doing a number of similar tasks at one time, and that is fine, too.

          For me personally, all of my professional items can be handled in one context, all of my personal items can be handled in one context and I also have a context for errands. Three is all I need.

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          • #6
            I spent the first two weeks with one massive list. It provided two key benefits:

            1. It prevented me from wasting time with an "a priori" context analysis, when in fact I wouldn't have been correct. I was very worried about paralyzing myself by worrying about contexts, so I said to heck with it.

            2. It let me really understand the magnitude of my situation... with over 170 open NAs that first week, and that's not counting probably another 50 that would have come up if I wasn't in report-crisis mode and work and therefore put a lot of work-development projects on the S/M list.

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            • #7
              That's a good point about how a priori choosing of contexts can miss the mark. When I started with GTD I had too many context lists; yes, it caused problems. Temporarily going to one list helped me see where separate contexts were and were not helpful. Now, I have four contexts for not-at-work and one for at-work.

              I think the real point of context lists is to filter out things that are "irrelevant" at the moment. In a situation where transition between contexts is easy and fluid enough, very few NA's may be "irrelevant".

              Comment


              • #8
                Wrong contexts are bad.

                Originally posted by LJM View Post
                That's a good point about how a priori choosing of contexts can miss the mark. When I started with GTD I had too many context lists; yes, it caused problems. Temporarily going to one list helped me see where separate contexts were and were not helpful. Now, I have four contexts for not-at-work and one for at-work.

                I think the real point of context lists is to filter out things that are "irrelevant" at the moment. In a situation where transition between contexts is easy and fluid enough, very few NA's may be "irrelevant".
                Wrong definition of contexts can ruin your GTD system. You should define them with the "resources available/needed" criterion in mind.

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                • #9
                  I use ThinkingRock for my Action lists and it puts everything together into one list. The one thing I like about TR is that you can have it create a PDF report seperated by context. I get all my list items on one (or more) pages but it's easily seperated by context. Personally, I have no problem only looking at the context lists I need at the time. If anything, it's an advantage because I can write down list items spur of the moment as I think of them and enter them into TR later.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                    Wrong definition of contexts can ruin your GTD system. You should define them with the "resources available/needed" criterion in mind.
                    But what is a "resource" when you are new to GTD? I still can't tell you what my resources really are - is my family room a resource when I have to put up moulding samples? Or is the moulding a resource? Or is the UPS Store where I have my mailbox a resource because I'm not going to make it there in the next 12 minutes to get it so I have to put a hard item on my calendar for tomorrow (so I can then put the NA on my list for the weekend)? Or is it work, because the UPS Store is a couple of blocks from my office?

                    For me, I have discovered that 'personal energy' is a fleeting resource. The Roadmap last week was part of that discovery process, because I was full of energy at 8pm even after having driven 80 miles through heavy traffic to get to a friend's house after leaving the hotel. I was keyed up, and was able to think clearly about several key topics on the drive.

                    So, this weekend I will experiment with creating a "high-energy" context, and yanking things out of home and work contexts. It's the 80/20 construct, to find the key 3.5 hours per day out of the 17 I'm awake and make sure that I do the maximum energy items possible.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Resources = environment and tools.

                      Originally posted by Chicagoan View Post
                      But what is a "resource" when you are new to GTD? I still can't tell you what my resources really are
                      For each Next Action you can specify the environment and tools needed to do it (using common sense approach). This is the context specification. And when you are in the compatible context and have enough time and appropriate energy level you can do the Next Action (from the context list).

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