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Action List Organization: How Would You Handle THIS Scenario?

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  • Action List Organization: How Would You Handle THIS Scenario?

    I run my business from my home office. I understand that Errands and Agendas are separate Context-Sorted Lists, but need clarification on other action reminder lists.

    If I organize my other action reminders by David Allen’s recommended contexts “Calls”, “At Home”, “At Work”, and “At Computer”, I may be creating unneeded work for myself. This is because my phone is in my home office on my desk beside my computer.

    Based on my situation, what should my Context Lists be?


    Last edited by prouddad; 06-01-2010, 01:20 PM.

  • #2
    i think they should be he same because the purpose for the contexts tend to be oriented to work. If you're worried about the environment being to similar, i tend to just hit up starbucks.

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    • #3
      My recommendation is to operate with as few contexts as you can manage. I might start with just two -- "At Home" and "At Work" -- and see how that goes. If you find the need for additional contexts, they're easy enough to add in.


      Cheers,
      Roger

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Technomethod View Post
        i think they should be he same because the purpose for the contexts tend to be oriented to work. If you're worried about the environment being to similar, i tend to just hit up starbucks.
        I agree, since you're very well at home working...your context list would still be constituted by those you mentioned. Although the order may vary according to it's importance for the day.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Technomethod View Post
          If you're worried about the environment being to similar, i tend to just hit up starbucks.
          What's wrong with the environment being similar?
          I'm in the same boat, running my business from my home office. I have errands lists, and agendas for meetings with clients, but other than that: No context lists whatsoever.

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          • #6
            Long lists repel me ....

            I work from home too. My personal experience is that if I have too few contexts, then my context lists get very long and repel me. Also I like calling up my telephone list and working through it in one go; don't ask me why but I just get into "call mode" and churn through the list more efficiently. The same goes for other contexts - I seem to get "in the zone" and blitz the list more efficiently.

            Then again, I'm relaxed about creating new contexts when I need them and deleting them when I don't. I'm finding a lot of tasks that need doing in my greenhouse at the moment and I've just started an @greenhouse context. When the season moves on and I don't need that context, it will be toast.

            I suppose I could summarise my ramblings by saying that I view contexts as a way to help me get things done; if they hinder me then I prune them out.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by prouddad View Post
              IIf I organize my other action reminders by David Allen’s recommended contexts “Calls”, “At Home”, “At Work”, and “At Computer”, I may be creating unneeded work for myself. This is because my phone is in my home office on my desk beside my computer.

              Based on my situation, what should my Context Lists be?
              Trite answer, the contexts that work for you.

              Serious answer, try separating out your tasks by necessary tool and see if that helps. So @phone makes sense because the tool required is the phone, @computer makes sense because you have to have the machine available (You might have more than 1 @computer list if you have several machines to choose from) @some specific SW package often makes a lot of sense so you don't wast time getting into and out of the mode of using something. For me I have contexts base don whether I have additional help or not so @outside with help and @outside by myself are good ways to split up my tasks. I've just added a set of contexts for @Farm Store and @Loom shop because I'm getting a lot more to do there and those are in separate buildings. It makes no sense for me to wade through 15 next actions that all require I be over at our farm store even though both places are technically "@home". I'll even make lists based on fields, I have one right now for @pear orchard pasture because we have a bunch of things to do there and the more I can do at one time the better.

              @work and @home never made sense to me either because I live where I work but I still use contexts a lot as a way to help me focus my attention on what needs to be done.

              Look at your existing lists and see if there are any common tools or places that you can use to better separate tasks.

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              • #8
                Action List Scenario (continued)

                Thanks for your all your input. The problem I'm having with creating separate context lists for phone and computer (in addition to the fact that my telephone is < 12 inches away from my computer keyboard) is priorities.

                Let's take today, for example. My first priority of the day was to return a client's phone call. The second thing I needed to do was to go online and submit some forms that an associate of mine asked for. Third--I wanted to discuss a client of mine with one of my vendors. in other words, the sequence of activities was
                1. Phone
                2. Computer
                3. Phone

                I got what I needed to do completed and I was pleased, but I'm not sure if I did it within the guidelines of GTD because I moved from one context list (phone)-to another (computer) -and back to phone. How can I use GTD to help with this kind of prioritizing of tasks rather than of contexts?

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                • #9
                  Prioritizing of tasks vs context

                  I don't think GTD wants you to prioritize by Context. I also don't think there is any problem with jumping from Context list to Context list.

                  Some reminders:
                  * Separating into Contexts was to keep us from "blowing a fuse" whenever we saw our jumbo Next Actions list.
                  * Separating into Contexts was for an efficiency factor as well. In deciding what you should do at a given moment, the first question is "What CAN you do?" It doesn't help you to review @Errands when you have 5 minutes in between meetings, for example, so there is no reason to review them.
                  * A Context is the "critical location or tool required to perform that Next Action". (Therefore, if you are at your home office, you may be @Home, @Phone, @Computer, @Office, etc., all at the same time.)

                  You could choose to have no Context lists. You would then only look in one place for Next Actions. However, you would have to read through many Next Actions that you can't perform, because you aren't in the Context for them. You end up having to do a second of thinking--can I do this here?--for each action. On the other hand, it's nice to have one big list because you review it more often than you may review a given Context list.

                  Or, you could choose to have Context lists. You would then have to determine what are all of your current Contexts when you review your lists. This may require a few seconds of thinking, like in the home office example above. I find, for instance, that "@Anywhere" is the easiest child to neglect, so to speak. On the other hand, if you know you are going to be at a phone, it's nice to have all of your calls on an @Phone list.

                  This doesn't give a definitive answer, but I hope it helps you figure out what works best for you.

                  JohnV474

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                  • #10
                    I got what I needed to do completed and I was pleased, but I'm not sure if I did it within the guidelines of GTD because I moved from one context list (phone)-to another (computer) -and back to phone. How can I use GTD to help with this kind of prioritizing of tasks rather than of contexts?
                    I think what you describe is very GTD, in terms of your fluidity of moving between lists. Due dates are often a key distinction for me on my lists, of what needs attention now, versus later. So when I bouncing between my lists, they are grouped by Context, and Sorted by Due Date. I scan those due dated items frequently throughout the day, as well as my Calendar.

                    Another thing to consider is a "Today" view. Someone asked about this on the GTD Connect Forums today and I shared that's what David Allen uses.

                    Hope this helps!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by prouddad View Post
                      I got what I needed to do completed and I was pleased
                      Perfect! Isn't that what GTD stands for? It's about getting things done, not about following someone else's guidelines up to the last detail (or it would be called "FSEGUTTLD" instead <vbg>)

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                      • #12
                        Batching

                        Another reason to keep a separate @Phone context is batching. You pick up the phone, make a call. Make another call. Run through six of them. Even though you're sitting right in front of your phone and computer, you'll probably be more efficient if you do all the calls at once. Contexts are a function of psychology as well as geography.
                        Jim

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