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  • not overlooking distributed action items

    Currently, I put all next-actions into a single Word file, prefixed with context and project info, so when I sort them, 'aa' (office) is at the top. Even sorted, it is kinda messy, and I am tempted to distribute next action items across multiple context lists: at phone, at computer, at home, at anywhere, etc. I like the idea because I can pull up a nice neat list of things that can be done at work or at home, and things like "at phone" or "at anywhere" can be saved and postponed until more appropriate times, like when I am waiting at the train station

    My concern: there may be important work and home things on these 'at phone' or 'at anywhere' lists. And there may be weeks between waits at the train station and similar situations. In order not to overlook items on these lists, I really need to juggle multiple lists. For example, when I am at work, I may need to refer to the 'at work', 'at phone', 'at anywhere', and 'at waiting_for' lists. Is this really easier than a single sorted list? How do you manage?

    Thanks

  • #2
    4 Strategies

    Originally posted by ArcCaster View Post
    My concern: there may be important work and home things on these 'at phone' or 'at anywhere' lists. And there may be weeks between waits at the train station and similar situations. In order not to overlook items on these lists, I really need to juggle multiple lists. For example, when I am at work, I may need to refer to the 'at work', 'at phone', 'at anywhere', and 'at waiting_for' lists. Is this really easier than a single sorted list? How do you manage?
    I've blogged recently about GTD contexts and the intersection problem you describe, in What is (not) a GTD context. In short, here are 4 strategies to deal with the intersection problem, in my preferred order of application:
    1. Favor the generic context over the specific one
    2. Merge contexts
    3. Favor frequent contexts over rare ones
    4. Favor permanent contexts over temporary ones

    Rolf

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    • #3
      1. Favor the generic context over the specific one
      2. Merge contexts
      3. Favor frequent contexts over rare ones
      4. Favor permanent contexts over temporary ones
      Thanks

      The ones that resonates with me are the third and fourth approaches. It sounds like someone who spends the majority of time either 'at work' or 'at home' would do best with three lists: at work, at home, and enroute.

      Someone who travels a lot (maybe never spending more than a day or so in a single location) would do better with more contexts: at phone, at anywhere, etc. Since their context changes multiple times per week, the opportunity and the stimulus to go through those other lists would come up several times weekly, which probably is enough.

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      • #4
        Balance is good, too. If you only have one @work context, you may find that it gets to be overwhelmingly long. Also, there can be value in batching similar items together. For that reason, I maintain @phone and @email contexts even though I almost always have access to my full office.

        Katherine

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        • #5
          I recommend starting simply. Remember, contexts are optional, so it might be instructive to start with one (@actions) then see which contexts emerge. I wouldn't make it too complicated.

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          • #6
            I concur with cornell.

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