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Categorizing to death

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  • Categorizing to death

    Hi All!

    I work in a computer center and have both administrative and technical tasks that I need to accomplish. Today while playing with MS-Outlook I defined a couple of new fields for my tasks: project and context. I had been using the category as the type of activity (i.e. TODO, CALL, INVESTIGATE, etc).

    It occurred to me that what type of activity it was is more or less irrelevant within the context of GDT. I was using the TODO category for things that required me to "produce" something (install new software, document a system's configuration, etc.) However, With a subject of "install new software" it seems obvious that this an activity that I need to produce something. With a subject like "Call Daniel about visit", it is obvious that I need to call him, etc. That really means that I can/should simply get rid of the of the type.

    I had decided to include an extra context field as I wanted to have means of keeping track of the operational area to which the activity belonged. This was what I was using the category for. However, it dawned on me that there really was no reason for keeping track of the area. It really doesn't matter to me what the software I am installing is used for. What is important is keeping track of where I need to do any given task.

    With thath in mind, I was thinking about the fact that I am reponsible for several large software components. Each has a GUI used to configure and administer the software. I have a lot of tasks related to each component, so I think it makes sense to create contexts for each of these components. Although am at my computer, just like I would be when sending email, investigating something on the web, I need to start and login to these software components to do specific work. I cannot do these tasks when I am simply "at the computer". Instead I need to be "in" these components.

    Does this seem reasonable? Am I making sense?

    Regards,

    jimmo

  • #2
    Originally posted by jimmo View Post
    I have a lot of tasks related to each component, so I think it makes sense to create contexts for each of these components. Although am at my computer, just like I would be when sending email, investigating something on the web, I need to start and login to these software components to do specific work. I cannot do these tasks when I am simply "at the computer". Instead I need to be "in" these components.
    What is a context, you know? Check this out again.

    Offcourse, if you need a given software component to do a specific NA, than it makes sense to make this component a context. Or maybe not. Depends.

    Search this forum for "mental context".

    Comment


    • #3
      Some GTDer's use both context (@calls, @pc, etc.) and categories (clients, family, etc.). It depends on how well you work within that. You certainly do not want to make it too complex, to the point where you don't trust your system. I use both contexts (5 of them) and categories (5 of them), but I had been using the categories for years and was very familiar with them. I started with categories to make certain I hit every part of my business, not just that which I enjoyed.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by sdann View Post
        Some GTDer's use both context (@calls, @pc, etc.) and categories (clients, family, etc.). It depends on how well you work within that. You certainly do not want to make it too complex, to the point where you don't trust your system. I use both contexts (5 of them) and categories (5 of them), but I had been using the categories for years and was very familiar with them. I started with categories to make certain I hit every part of my business, not just that which I enjoyed.
        From the book itself "Next I recommend that you make and keep a list called
        "Areas of Focus." " page 205

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        • #5
          I think it's perfectly valid to identify the context as the application you need to be logged into to accomplish the task. I think it's more efficient as it takes into account both 1) having gone through the effort to be in the application and 2) the fact that you're already in the mental mindset to do the work. You're physically and mentally ready.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by WebR0ver View Post
            I think it's perfectly valid to identify the context as the application you need to be logged into to accomplish the task. I think it's more efficient as it takes into account both 1) having gone through the effort to be in the application and 2) the fact that you're already in the mental mindset to do the work. You're physically and mentally ready.
            One of my contexts is @program where I list items such as:
            PROG1: completely redo file A
            PROG2: write presentation to Herman's House of Widgets
            PROG1: incorporate John's ideas into B

            It was suggested here on the forum and it saves me a lot of time.

            Comment


            • #7
              Additional Context

              I had a similar issue when first implementing GTD a few years ago. How I solved it (and I think other GTD'ers do the same) - is with shorthand. For example in my @Computer list, I start a task description with a three letter code that tells me the context. (e.g. I use EML - if I need to be in my email app, WEB-web browser, etc).

              Comment


              • #8
                It's a Trade-Off

                Originally posted by jimmo View Post
                Hi All!

                Each has a GUI used to configure and administer the software. I have a lot of tasks related to each component, so I think it makes sense to create contexts for each of these components. Although am at my computer, just like I would be when sending email, investigating something on the web, I need to start and login to these software components to do specific work. I cannot do these tasks when I am simply "at the computer". Instead I need to be "in" these components.

                Does this seem reasonable? Am I making sense?

                Regards,

                jimmo
                jimmo,

                It's really a question of balancing the amount of time logging in and out of admin consoles and such, against the additional work of maintaining all of of the additional contexts in your system. You do what gives you the most benefit for the least work.

                Comment


                • #9
                  If it makes sense to you, then it makes sense!

                  I certainly find myself doing multiple things in a row on the command line, or in emacs, or wherever. It's not just the physical time it takes to make the context switch; it's the time it takes your brain to adjust from home/end to CTRL-A/CTRL-E, mouse to keyboard, POSIX to Windows. And if you're like me, and spend a lot of time with reference manuals and search engines for troubleshooting, it's good to have the right sites and books open.

                  Plus, if I have to launch Eclipse, I know I'll have a good 5-10 minutes for phone calls...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Don't use categories

                    Hello

                    In my opinion, using categories is a useless tasks that just requires more manipulations.

                    In most cases, if an item is on a NA list, it is not important whether it is a personal or business or wathever item.

                    If I look to my @Calls list, I want to see all the calls I want to make, because maybe I have some time to do a personal call.

                    Don't overcomplicate your system, it will only lead to giving it all up. The best systems are the simplest ones.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jay Levitt View Post
                      Plus, if I have to launch Eclipse, I know I'll have a good 5-10 minutes for phone calls...
                      As in the IDE? Only 10 minutes?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by cldeblaere View Post
                        Don't overcomplicate your system, it will only lead to giving it all up. The best systems are the simplest ones.
                        KISS. In fact, that was one reason I gave up using a tickler file. I don't have all that many things I need to be tickled about, so managing tickler files is too much work. Instead I have a single folder for all the tickler stuff that I review once a week or so. If I decide I need to do it during the coming week it ends up on my NA list or sometimes my calendar.

                        On the one hand I resist not using categories, but I cannot think of a single reason why they need to be used. Hmmmm............

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