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Invent Your Contexts

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  • Invent Your Contexts

    Reading through some GTD blogs and ran across something that made a huge lightbulb go off in my head:

    I have adapted this concept of contexts to suit my situation as a home manager. Our week is roughly divided into “themed” days. Monday is Laundry Day, Tuesday is for running Errands, Wednesday is Kitchen Day, Thursday is Office Day, Friday is Cleaning Day, and Saturday is Garden/Yard/Large Project/Family Day.

    Aha! All the residual angst around "I need to study for my finals but I never seem to get around to it and I want to just schedule it on my calendar but then David Allen would kick down my front door and beat me with a rubber hose" just evaporated.

    If your lifestyle needs more structure and you feel tempted to start throwing non-day-dependent tasks on your calendar, you might need to define up some contexts.

    Monday is Laundry Day. Do things from the @LaundryDay list. Weekday lunch-hours are @ExerciseTime, so do things from that list. It strikes me as just the right marriage between "Mon 12:15-12:45: Jog 0.75 kilometers" and "Someday, somewhere, when I feel like it, I should exercise."

    I'm in a pretty context-light lifestyle right now (I've only really got 2 or 3) so I think this'll help me considerably.


    Cheers,
    Roger

  • #2
    Nice tip!

    Thanks for the tip Roger.
    It should help unstick a few things for me.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm a senior now

      I just notice that with my last post I became a "senior member".
      Must be linked to the AARP database

      Comment


      • #4
        i still have some problems switching to a context based lifestyle. feels weird but i will try.

        Comment


        • #5
          In GTD terms "context" means a critical tool (phone, computer) or location (anywhere, errands, home, office) needed to perform an action. You might choose to focus on certain contexts on a given day, but those days are not contexts themselves. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with choosing a theme for a day, I'm merely stating that those days are not contexts.

          I would not have an @ErrandsDay context, for example. When the day I've designated for errands shows up, I pull out the @Errands list and start doing those actions.

          Another example: At the beginning of my "Yard Work" day I would start by examining my @Home list for actions that pertain to yard work and write them down on a scrap of paper. This would be my most-important-tasks (MIT) list for the day. MIT lists are covered in Zen-to-Done (ZTD), a methodology that extends GTD. I would give those tasks first choice given my context, time available and energy available in the moment.

          Does that make sense?

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          • #6
            The basic idea of @contexts-lists is that you only have to look at the NAs which are doable in your current contexts and can safely ignore the rest.

            Why bother with @home tasks when you are @ the office?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by humblepie View Post
              feels weird but i will try.
              What feels weird about it? A context is just a tool or location you need to do a task. When I am outside with help I don't want to be bothered by seeing all my tasks that I need my computer for, I don't have it so why clutter up my thinking with them. Instead I just want to see what has to be done that I can do outside when I have assistance.

              Similarly when it's blowing snow, after all the critters are fed, I don't want to see and then dismiss all the outside tasks I need to finish. I can't do them due to weather so instead I just want to see perhaps my inside by myself or Computer Internet tasks, whatever context makes most sense for me to be in at that time that is not outside.

              Comment


              • #8
                I would be lost without my contexts. I work from home but log into a remote desktop and work mostly within that, so I use two independant systems. I use outlook with GTD add-on to manage my @contexts and projects on both.

                On my home desktop my contexts are based on location @home, @errands, @computer.

                My work system is based on activity since anytime I am looking at the lists I know that I have my phone, my computer, and I am sitting in my office. They are more like @email, @calls, @process.

                Comment


                • #9
                  It's a twist

                  This seems like a twist on the concept of contexts but if it works for you, great!

                  I put far too many items as dated actions instead of calendar items or just picking from a context list at a suitable juncture. I do use undated items in context lists but mainly for use when i get a cancelled meeting, finish a planned action early.

                  I don't use a pure GTD system but it acts as the framework for what works for me.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Roger View Post
                    Monday is Laundry Day. Do things from the @LaundryDay list.
                    With an @LaundryDay list you don't even have to have a fixed laundry day. It is enough that you decide for one "day" while brushing your teeth in the morning.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I am trying to invent my contexts.

                      I am specifically talking about items to be done around the house. I don't want all these to just be in one giant @home list and am trying to figure out what will be most useful. When I'm at home, sure I could go out and fix the sprinklers, work on my taxes, or organize the pantry, but those don't really all 'go together' in my mind. Contexts, as I recall, are not just about place and tools, but also about energy and I would add 'frame of mind'. I just have a hard time drawing a hard line between some of the things.

                      I'm going to write out all my @home actions and then cut them up into little strips of paper and sort them. I figure once I see what goes together in my mind and what doesn't, I'll have my separate @home-_________ contexts.

                      Wish me luck.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by malisa View Post
                        I am specifically talking about items to be done around the house. I don't want all these to just be in one giant @home list and am trying to figure out what will be most useful.
                        I put basic home maintenance stuff on a checklist by time of doing. So there are daily things, weekly things, monthly things, things that happen at seasonal changes etc.

                        My next action is to "Work 30 minutes on Red Book Checklist" (my checklists are in a red notebook so I can't lose it) and I repeat it daily.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                          I put basic home maintenance stuff on a checklist by time of doing. So there are daily things, weekly things, monthly things, things that happen at seasonal changes etc.

                          My next action is to "Work 30 minutes on Red Book Checklist" (my checklists are in a red notebook so I can't lose it) and I repeat it daily.
                          I'm doing that too. I made checklists like Marina's, more or less. I basically tweaked what I'd been doing more weekly to make it monthly. That aspect I like. I still haven't found the balance between the maintenance-type, recurring things and the project-y actions. As you said, I probably need a 'do maintenance stuff for 30 minutes NA.

                          But I'm in the process of organizing and decluttering a lot of areas around the house and re-vitalizing the landscape etc. outside. So there are lots of home project-y things that aren't maintenance. Once I'm "done" (haha) then many of these things would just be maintained via checklist type stuff, but I have to do lots of getting rid of stuff and moving stuff from this room to that etc. first.

                          I'm about to cut up my list of actions.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Some good thoughts here, everyone. I pretty much agree with everything that's been said, which shouldn't be too surprising.

                            I guess what this grows out of is a feeling that strictly location/tool -based Contexts aren't helping me as much as I'd like. I only really have two or three of them, which doesn't give my Next Actions lists enough structure to really be helpful.

                            So we've got the basic Four-Criteria Model:

                            1. Context
                            2. Time available
                            3. Energy available
                            4. Priority

                            Merging together 1, 2, and 3 gives me a sort of "super-Context" that seems useful enough. Energy Available is sort of a tricky one -- I think of it in terms of not only how much energy, but also what sort of energy.

                            Anyway, it seems to be working out alright so far; I'll try to provide an update later on if I have any new insights.



                            Cheers,
                            Roger

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