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Sub- or micro-contexts?

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  • Sub- or micro-contexts?

    I'm encountering an interesting thought today.

    I'm going through my @work context list, and realized I'm batching actions based on what application I'm in.

    For example, I do development on a system, so when I'm in the development environment, I try to do all the actions on my list that are done in that environment.

    It makes me think it might be good to create another context list called "@DEV" that would contain all the changes I need to make in the development environment.

    Now it is true that I'm @work and can do any actions on that list, but if I'm mentally batching these things, shouldn't I formalize it?

    Does anyone else make these kind of micro-contexts, like "@email" or "@internet" or whatever?

  • #2
    Sure, I've got a sub-context in my system called @Home-Computer. All actions that require access to my computer at home fits this context. Before this context I used @Home, but I didn't like having to search through the entire list of housecleaning and home improvement actions to find actions specific to my computer.

    David Allen also uses a sub-context called @Computer-Web since he doesn't always have access to the Web when he's on the road (at least he did in 2001).

    It's totally sensible to make your own contexts when the "vanilla" ones don't fit; just don't make more than you need. If you use a Palm, you're limited to 15 categories so you have to be stingy with them.

    - Luke
    Last edited by ellobogrande; 09-28-2009, 12:08 PM. Reason: Changed "stuff" to "actions" because stuff doesn't go on action lists!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by cojo View Post
      Does anyone else make these kind of micro-contexts, like "@email" or "@internet" or whatever?
      Yes, For a while I had contexts of @OpenOffice, @Mac Internet, @GrassRoots, @Photoshop etc. I was doing a bunch of computer stuff and @ computer was insufficient to split my list.

      When my tasks got down in numbers I got rid of the extra contexts I no longer needed.

      I create, use and then delete contexts on the fly as required.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by cojo View Post
        It makes me think it might be good to create another context list called "@DEV" that would contain all the changes I need to make in the development environment.

        Now it is true that I'm @work and can do any actions on that list, but if I'm mentally batching these things, shouldn't I formalize it?

        Does anyone else make these kind of micro-contexts, like "@email" or "@internet" or whatever?
        I will reiterate my opinion from another thread: contexts should be defined by what you need to have accessible to you to do a task, and not by following some strict rules that might not make sense to you in all circumstances. GTD is flexible regarding contexts and leaves it up to you to figure out which contexts suit you best. When we are at it, aside from @Computer context I also currently have @Computer-root (for performing admin tasks) and @Computer-anywhere (for when I have access to a computer, but not to my computing environment). So it seems perfectly ok to create @Dev context which you need -- as you can be in multiple contexts at the same time, it most probably wouldn't conflict with @Work.

        Another point is, as Luke hinted, to find a good balance and not have more contexts than you need. For example, I used to differentiate by operating systems, but a single @Computer is more motivating for me to actually do some productive work using the said computer. And I agree with Oogie's approach of ad hoc context manipulation.

        Let me conclude by paraphrasing what I've read somewhere in this forum: you should rule your contexts and not let them rule you.

        Dusan

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        • #5
          creating alot of sub contexts requires a very robust context manager.

          if it is not robust, you will have alot of problems doing reviewing. thats my experience.

          to me you get to a level where you micromanage too much. I would rather use a @office, @home,@online w computer to settle my needds.

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          • #6
            My 3 examples:

            @Computer
            @HomeComputer
            @E-mail
            Why? Because the scanner and the laser printer are at home... @Computer is any of my computers, including my netbook that I carry everywhere.
            E-mails are trickier, because maybe I need to send a file residing at my home computer, if not I can send an e-mail from my BlackBerry.

            Greetings from sunny Baja, Mexico...

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