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  • Any unusual contexts

    Im always intrigued how many different ways there are to apply the GTD system to your personal area of work. One of the key differences seems to be the context actions, which change from job to job. I just wondered if people had any interesting contexts that could be good to share?

    For me, I have one called @Brainstorm. I love mindmapping and I usually do it by hand. I do them anywhere - in fact doing them in different cafes or museums or galleries makes me have different ideas. I also found that once I did one I was kind of in the mood to keep going, so sometimes I would do 5 or 6 on the bounce, each one getting easier (in fact I would sometimes go back and redo the first one, with a lot more ideas splurging out).

    So I decided to group them together in a context, and now one of my more fun occasional tasks is to go and drill through all my brainstorms in a row.

  • #2
    @Brainstorm is not a context. @Anywhere is.

    Brainstorming is an action, not a context. If I were you I'd put those actions on your @Anywhere list. Remember what a context is: a critical location or tool required to perform an action. @Brainstorm does not define a tool or a location.

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    • #3
      Brainstorm is like Braindead

      Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
      Remember what a context is: a critical location or tool required to perform an action. @Brainstorm does not define a tool or a location.
      I consider a context to be a necessary condition not just a tool or location although those often are necessary conditions.

      So @Brainstorm might be a perfectly good context if you know that when you get in that mode you are flying high and really can think well. Sort of the opposite of the @braindead context a few here have used.

      I use contexts as a way to help me get things done. Doesn't matter how I split things up but as long as when I am in that context I can do everything on my lists and they are all actual next actions then making and using contexts ad hoc is a good idea.

      I actually like the idea of an @Brainstorm context. Might be one to use when all sorts of ideas are coming fast and furious and connections are being made and things are really rolling. I can see me using that to use the power of the time to get through a lot of brainstorming activities.

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      • #4
        incidentally if there are any artists on here that use GTD id love to hear about your contexts. my partner is a illustrator, when we ran though GTD together, we hit a block on whether to even bother putting her art actions in a context, they were so hard to specify and so hard to categorise.

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        • #5
          Art contexts

          It is possible to keep all of your Next Actions on the same list and specify the contexts within the list itself.

          The purpose of contexts is twofold, as I understand it: 1) to make for more efficient review, so you aren't scanning Next Actions that can't be done right now, and 2) to keep a single Next Actions list from becoming overwhelmingly long. #2 relates to #1 because of the intimidation factor.

          Here's my current approach:

          I keep one Next Actions list, with the essential context (person, place, or thing) listed in the first few characters of each entry.

          Because I am often in control of my context, I prefer to get a skim-type review of all of my Next Actions to keep them fresh. Then, I can choose whether I need to be @Errands, etc.

          Examples:
          WF - renewed license to arrive in mail as of 5/12
          Phone - call XYZ about property management issues 555-555-5555
          [spouse] - colors chosen for baby's room?
          [spouse] - rebate check arrived
          Comp - update antivirus
          Comp - email new client re: expanded options
          Home - put laundry into dryer
          Errand - Post Office - mail papers back to Kendyl

          I chose this approach because having separate lists made quick reviewing more cumbersome - I had to think not only of where I was, but where I could be. E.g. @Home, @Phone, @Computer, @[spouse], and @Anywhere all at the same time. That required too much re-assessing.

          In my case, the extra time required to scan my list is made up for by only having to scan one list. It also made it easier for me to organize those NA's that didn't fit in the well-defined edges of the standard contexts (this sounds like what you are dealing with). The extra perk in my case is that my NA list is in a bound notebook, and keeping track of the multiple lists required lots of page-flipping.

          Hope it helps,
          JohnV474

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          • #6
            @wind context.

            @wind context is my special context that overrides other contexts since I cannot control the weather (yet).

            When @wind context happens I pack my gear and go to the Zegrze Lake near Warsaw for some windsurfing.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
              ...since I cannot control the weather (yet).
              I see your visualising wild success for the future then

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              • #8
                It's perfectly acceptable (and great, I think) to have a context called @Brainstorm or similar. I also have @Brainstorm and love being able to take full advantage of my "thinking" moods. If I had to sit down and figure out everything that needed brainstorming once I was in the mood, it'd probably kill the mood.

                I also have @Read and @Write because I have reading and writing "moods" that I want to take full advantage of.

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                • #9
                  Focal point contexts

                  Originally posted by JohnV474 View Post

                  The purpose of contexts is twofold, as I understand it: 1) to make for more efficient review, so you aren't scanning Next Actions that can't be done right now, and 2) to keep a single Next Actions list from becoming overwhelmingly long. #2 relates to #1 because of the intimidation factor.

                  JohnV474
                  As I mentioned in a recent post, I've added a few extra contexts that relate to my current "focal points". Technically these could all be added to one of my standard contexts (@Home Computer, @Home, @Errands, @Someday-maybe). The reason I've put them on separate lists is for when I sit down to do my scheduled focal point time I can then look just at those NAs. I have found that this helps me focus during that time. However, I keep these context lists with the other ones so they are always "available" to me. I use paper and keep them all in a binder under a tab for NAs.

                  For example, one of my current focal points is Game Programming. When I sit down at the computer to do Game Programming, I find it easier to look at my @RPGMaker context list. This way I don't see all the other computer tasks that I could be doing. I've already decided to work on the game so I know I don't want to do those other NAs and they distract me. However, when I've got some general down time and I look through my NAs I may see something on the @RPGMaker list that jumps out at me and I can still choose to do it.

                  These contexts help me to be more efficient during my self-scheduled focal point time.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                    I consider a context to be a necessary condition not just a tool or location although those often are necessary conditions.

                    So @Brainstorm might be a perfectly good context if you know that when you get in that mode you are flying high and really can think well. Sort of the opposite of the @braindead context a few here have used.

                    I use contexts as a way to help me get things done. Doesn't matter how I split things up but as long as when I am in that context I can do everything on my lists and they are all actual next actions then making and using contexts ad hoc is a good idea.

                    I actually like the idea of an @Brainstorm context. Might be one to use when all sorts of ideas are coming fast and furious and connections are being made and things are really rolling. I can see me using that to use the power of the time to get through a lot of brainstorming activities.
                    That's an interesting take on contexts; I never really thought much about context based on your level of energy or inclination. I suppose they are very real sub-contexts, much like the weather conditions (I know many of your actions are weather and seasonal dependent).

                    Personally I think it would add too much overhead and too many categories, but that's just my opinion. I do keep a little checklist in my reference list that has an @Braindead list to trigger those little things like refilling my vitamin pill box that otherwise keep getting away from me, so I am doing something similar but not making a primary context out of it.

                    I didn't mean to infer that it's wrong to make context lists like that; it's just a little unorthodox and could lead to too many contexts. Context overload caused me some issues early on in GTD so I scaled back to what I absolutely needed. If I thought I *needed* a new context, I tried to live without it for as long as possible until the irritation got too bad. Then I knew I really needed it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                      That's an interesting take on contexts; I never really thought much about context based on your level of energy or inclination. ....Context overload caused me some issues early on in GTD so I scaled back to what I absolutely needed. If I thought I *needed* a new context, I tried to live without it for as long as possible until the irritation got too bad. Then I knew I really needed it.
                      Since energy level is one criteria for deciding what to do it makes sense to me to consider it for a separate context. Again I go for necessary conditions as a context definer.

                      Second point is more interesting though. While I don't use near the number of contexts Augusto does, I took his ideas to heart and will make, use for a while and delete contexts on the fly. My "core" contexts tend to stay the same but I often split them up temporarily or add new ones for specific things.

                      Instead of trying to minimize contexts if I think I need one I create it, right then. I tend to maximize contexts and then sort them out during weekly review. Usually I start making a context when anything is jarring to me seeing it where it is.

                      Just different ways of working I think.

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                      • #12
                        Unusual Context of a frequent flyer...

                        When I was traveling 75% for work, and spending as much as 16 hours a week actually on airplanes, I started keeping an @inflight context for stuff that was possible to while getting from here to there. Sure, I could have just used @computer for this, but there are some things that can be done from a middle seat in coach and some that can't. @inflight was mostly limited to things that didn't require much mouse interaction, or could be done on my palm.

                        One particular week I actually timed myself for various flights and found that I had spent almost 8 hours of take-off and landing where I couldn't use my computer or palm... I added a @EMP and began to include things I could accomplish during that time period including bringing material, a printed out document to mark-up or just a notebook to brainstorm in.

                        Luckily I don't travel as much as I used to, but when I do I still find these contexts useful.

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