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  • Fuzzy Edges & Not Untils

    Does anyone here have the problem of next actions that are not as soon as possible (belong on a curent NA list by context) nor are they at a specific time or date (need to go into the tickler file) but instead are more of a not until where the time to start is very fuzzy?

    If so how do you handle them?

    I'm thinking of things that are generally able to be done in a specific month. But due to weather, energy, or other issues I might be able to start them a bit earlier if I know about them. The tickler file seems so finite that it isn't working for these things.

    I'm having a really hard time handling the projects whose next actions can't be started for a while but the timing is very fluid and the parameters of when they can be done are rather wide.

  • #2
    Good question!

    For me, I 've had to become comfortable with longer NA lists at times simply because I don't want to lose track of those pesky actions you mention. For me, the best place to keep them is on my NA lists according to their context.

    If you are diligent with your Weekly Review, then you could just park them on Someday/maybe. But if you struggle with regularly reviewing that list, then you'll fret about it and it will always be nagging ay you subconsciously. No "Mind Like Water' state in that!

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    • #3
      From previous posts, I'm guessing you're especially talking about seasonal livestock and agricultural things, which are weather dependent. I put my own garden things in my tickler for about a month before when I expect to actually be able to do them. Not only does that remind me to watch for early thaws and similar opportunities, but it lets me check my inventory of relevant supplies before the rush hits. The garden store on the first warm day of spring is *not* a fun place to be.

      Katherine

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
        I'm thinking of things that are generally able to be done in a specific month. But due to weather, energy, or other issues I might be able to start them a bit earlier if I know about them. The tickler file seems so finite that it isn't working for these things.
        I'd handle this by using a start date that is at the first possible date, and set up my contexts so that I see the next action in the right context.

        Let's say you need a "warm day", which won't occur until at least March 1.

        I'd set the start date to be 3/1/09 and the context to be "warm day"

        - Don

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        • #5
          Like Katherine, I use my tickler file for this.

          How do you find the tickler limiting?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Brent View Post
            How do you find the tickler limiting?
            Recent example:

            I have a project to build a line of short fence. It's got several conditions, needs help, ground not frozen and the big one, we need a generator to run the compressor. We've been looking for one (it's in my shopping list) but all the places with good ones have stopped carrying them until spring. So I put all the details about the project to date on a paper and put it in the tickler for April to revisit that project.

            Suddenly the guy building the tall fence for us has more time this fall and none in the spring, so he's doing that spring project now, which means his compressor is here and he will let us use it on weekends or when he's not using it. So I had to go back through the tickler file to find my notes, and since I didn't remember that I had put it in April I was looking from March on and my tickler file is fairly thick. It wasn't that much time spent but it was very frustrating.

            I know my mind had not let go of the project because I was still thinking about it. I didn't have the next actions on my list because I thought it was going to be pushed out. Yes I caught it at the weekly review, but before then I'd missed some time to do some work on it and I got frustrated that I missed the opportunity to move it along because I couldn't easily find my notes on it.

            I think I'm slowly backing into having all next actions even for on-hold projects on my context lists. But as we've discussed before I have many more projects than the norm and fear list apathy if it gets too long (over a hundred or so items per context).

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            • #7
              Oogiem,

              from all your posts her I 've read it seems to be the case you have a lot of contexts - maybe even multi-layered ones, a lot of weather dependencies. My suggestion: Maybe you could concentrate on a few main contexts to solidify your system. And in additon to that develop a contexts-tickler in which you "tickle" projects, notes and action according to the appropriate context. For instance you could have a "generator" folder available in such a tickler. So in the example you gave in your previous post you would have noticed another context is available - a generator plus non-frosty ground - an could have found the short fence project in the appropriate folder.

              Regarding the time-based tickler: maybe it is better to not put the whole project support materials folder into the tickler, but only a scrap of paper pointing to the original project. Maybe a brief statement like "You can activate project XYZ, if the weather is good." will serve better.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
                it seems to be the case you have a lot of contexts - maybe even multi-layered ones, a lot of weather dependencies.
                Yep and struggling with how to organize/document/define the contexts in a way that really works so that I'm not faced with stuff I cannot do and so I don't miss things I can as context changes.

                [QUOTE=Cpu_Modern;62480And in additon to that develop a contexts-tickler in which you "tickle" projects, notes and action according to the appropriate context. [/QUOTE]

                Let me see if I understand. Instead of (or perhaps in addition to) 43 folders with months and days I also have set of folders labeled with weather contexts or others as appropriate?

                If that is what you meant I'll have to think on it. I've been trying to figure out how to identify my real contexts I have and not making much progress. The easy ones are the ones that most of the folks on this forum use, @computer, @phone, @town (my @ errands as I have 2 main towns so have them separated by location) but the others are harder. Right now I have 3 others "with help", "by myself inside" and "by myself outside".

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                • #9
                  Why Not Use an Agenda?

                  Oogiem,

                  Instead of contexts or ticklers, why not use an agenda? Normally, an agenda holds all of the actions that you would want to do when you are at a certain event or with a certain person. For example, your "Wife" agenda would list all of the actions you want to accomplish the next time you are with your wife. Similarly, you could have an agenda called "Warm Day" to list the actions that are waiting on a warm day, or "Have Compressor" to list all the actions that are waiting on you having the compressor.

                  One problem you are having is that there are multiple factors that have to fall into place in order for you to work on the fence. To create agendas like "Warm Day and Have Compressor" can lead to a combinatorial explosion in the number of agendas. I would suggest that you limit the agenda name to the most critical resource and accept the fact that some things on the agenda will still depend on some other factors.

                  For example, in your "Wife" agenda, you might have two actions: to give her something, and tell her something. If you see her at home, you can do both, but if you call her on the phone, you will only be able to tell her something. Similarly, if you use "Warm Day" as the agenda, there might be a couple of things you can do on the next warm day, but you still won't be able to start on the fence unless you have the compressor and the soil is unfrozen.

                  The important thing is to focus on the critical factor that you are waiting on. If it is time, use a calendar or tickler. If it is location, use a context. If it is a person, event, or condition, use an agenda.
                  Last edited by Scott_L_Lewis; 12-02-2008, 07:14 AM. Reason: Minor corrections

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                  • #10
                    Your circumstances create an interesting dilemma. Because you sometimes have more than one variable that needs to be in play (ex: >=55 F, dry, compressor available), there are probably quite a few combinations. Is there a spreadsheet - or better yet a simple database - that you could use? Maybe you could generate lists of all possible projects/tasks you could do if one or some conditions are met. You then cross-reference that with another variable, and so on and so on.

                    Otherwise, using contexts such as location, agenda, waiting for, and the tickler sounds good.

                    This is a complex problem.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                      Let me see if I understand. Instead of (or perhaps in addition to) 43 folders with months and days I also have set of folders labeled with weather contexts or others as appropriate?

                      If that is what you meant I'll have to think on it.
                      Yes, that is what I meant.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Scott_L_Lewis View Post
                        Instead of contexts or ticklers, why not use an agenda?
                        Interesting idea, hadn't thought of it that way....


                        Originally posted by Scott_L_Lewis View Post
                        One problem you are having is that there are multiple factors that have to fall into place in order for you to work on the fence. To create agendas like "Warm Day and Have Compressor" can lead to a combinatorial explosion in the number of agendas.
                        Originally posted by Scott_L_Lewis View Post
                        The important thing is to focus on the critical factor that you are waiting on. If it is time, use a calendar or tickler. If it is location, use a context. If it is a person, event, or condition, use an agenda.
                        I appreciate the ideas. Hadn't thought of it being an event or condition as being a good place to use an agenda.

                        One thing I *am* the wife, so my agenda would be @Husband Actually I have 2 of those one for inside stuff and one for outside stuff. A lot of tasks take both of us to do.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sdann View Post
                          Your circumstances create an interesting dilemma. Because you sometimes have more than one variable that needs to be in play .....

                          This is a complex problem.
                          Yes that is exactly the problem, many interlocking variables lead to a proliferation of contexts.

                          I also appreciate the database idea, I may play with that some too.

                          Thanks

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                            One thing I *am* the wife, so my agenda would be @Husband Actually I have 2 of those one for inside stuff and one for outside stuff. A lot of tasks take both of us to do.
                            You have two husbands, one for inside and one for outside? Outstanding, but please don't tell my wife about this possibility. I don't want to end up outside.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                              You have two husbands, one for inside and one for outside? Outstanding, but please don't tell my wife about this possibility. I don't want to end up outside.
                              Laughing Hmm I guess it could be interpreted that way. It's more like 2 contexts, one for things that I need help with inside (Can be done on rainy or snowy days for example) and one for things that take both of us but have to happen outside. It just seems to work to have things split that way as it's easier to plan our work time that way.

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