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So do I have too few contexts for Next Actions?

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  • So do I have too few contexts for Next Actions?

    At work I have one text document, plus a few email folders like Time Critical HOLD and HOLD and Waiting for people to respond. I have one on my cell phone for when I think of home tasks and I'm not at the home computer, and I have a monthly one on my home computer.

    Seems to be working for me, but I seem to see many more discussed here, like calls, etc. Of course once I have too many I start losing track and probably forgetting some of them, so I want to try to minimize them, of course.

  • #2
    Sounds like you have your lists scattered all over the place. It's tough to do a weekly review with a system that's broken up geographically. You need all of your action lists to be accessible to you anytime, anywhere to be able to trust your action choices.

    I suggest you consolidate your lists into a paper system for now. If you want to go electronic, open a project to set up a electronic GTD system.

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    • #3
      Well if it's working for you then leave it alone. However, can you really do all teh tasks on the @home list? Are there no other encessary conditions or tools ?

      I work from homes so technically I can choose what context to be in most of the time, yet I find that splitting out contexts helps me a lot. I have these right now but I will make, use and delete contexts as needed on the fly. Contexts are somewhat fluid, make, use and change them as often as you need to to keep the tasks on them things you can really do at that time. Worst thing is to have to re-think what you need to do when you look at a next action.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
        Sounds like you have your lists scattered all over the place. It's tough to do a weekly review with a system that's broken up geographically. You need all of your action lists to be accessible to you anytime, anywhere to be able to trust your action choices.
        Hmm, interesting. I guess I am basically trying to keep work and personal stuff separate as far as possible. For example, I only do personal stuff at work when I absolutely have to, usually to catch someone during working hours. And the cell phone seems to make a good bridge between the two.

        Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
        I suggest you consolidate your lists into a paper system for now. If you want to go electronic, open a project to set up a electronic GTD system.
        Hmm, that is a tough sell for someone who handwriting stinks as much as mine does!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
          Well if it's working for you then leave it alone. However, can you really do all teh tasks on the @home list? Are there no other encessary conditions or tools ?
          Actually yes, I can usually do all the tasks on the @home list since I don't seem to be missing anything other than my own initiative and willpower which is a BIG problem! But it's an interesting thought that I'll keep in mind as I go along. Thanks.

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          • #6
            I don't think so.

            Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
            Sounds like you have your lists scattered all over the place. It's tough to do a weekly review with a system that's broken up geographically. You need all of your action lists to be accessible to you anytime, anywhere to be able to trust your action choices.
            I don't think so. I do not need my @home list with me when I'm doing errands or when I'm at work.

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            • #7
              I have 25 contexts

              But I run a small business. What has helped me a lot though is the making subdivided lists. From that perspective, I only have three contexts: work, contexts, people. Each of these has at least 5 sub divisions and some of those sub divisions have subdivisions.

              That may sound complicated but you can just use bullets and tab appropriately and get the same effect. It's very nice to see everything (and only) work when you are at work, even though there are various context at work (subdivisions) Same goes for personal.

              Hope that makes sense

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              • #8
                Hmm, interesting. I guess I am basically trying to keep work and personal stuff separate as far as possible.
                DA's definition of work is anything you want to get done that's not done yet. There's no distinction between personal and professional, important or trivial. It's *all* work. "Finish business proposal" is treated no differently than "Finalize family vacation to Hawaii". I think you should eliminate that distinction in your system and keep all of it together in one consolidated place.

                Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                I don't think so. I do not need my @home list with me when I'm doing errands or when I'm at work.
                That's true when you're in "doing" mode, but how can you do a weekly review effectively if you don't have your lists in one consolidated place? Or, what if you need to update your @Home list while you're at work? Keeping it all together in one place makes it easier.

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                • #9
                  Separate systems questions.

                  Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                  That's true when you're in "doing" mode, but how can you do a weekly review effectively if you don't have your lists in one consolidated place?
                  You have to do separate weekly reviews - for example on Wednesday mornings @work and on Sunday mornings @home.

                  Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                  Or, what if you need to update your @Home list while you're at work?
                  I write a note and put it in my "Home" traveling folder from DavidCo. At home I process the "Home" traveling folder and put an item on the @Home list.

                  Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                  Keeping it all together in one place makes it easier.
                  Yes but if you are working in a very secure environment you are not allowed to take work items to home and access work system from outside. And you lose everything when you're fired.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                    DA's definition of work is anything you want to get done that's not done yet. There's no distinction between personal and professional, important or trivial. It's *all* work. "Finish business proposal" is treated no differently than "Finalize family vacation to Hawaii". I think you should eliminate that distinction in your system and keep all of it together in one consolidated place.
                    Not possible in a locked down corporate environment where you can be fired for putting personal stuff on equipment issued by your employer or for putting employer data (i.e. corporate email) on personal equipment. There are times when you simply must separate work and personal.

                    Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                    That's true when you're in "doing" mode, but how can you do a weekly review effectively if you don't have your lists in one consolidated place? Or, what if you need to update your @Home list while you're at work? Keeping it all together in one place makes it easier.
                    I've found that I really need to be in my office to do my weekly review. It is context sensitive. When I'm running errands or on a trip I don't need all my lists with me all the time. I generally have most of them but I don't always need all of them. I just need the lists that I need in the context that I am in AND a method of capturing anything that comes to mind that I know will go into my system at some point.

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                    • #11
                      Have I mentioned how my cell phone notepad fills my "traveling" data needs?

                      The part I love is that it is such an incredibly simple tool - a calendar alert here, a list of next actions on the Notepad - awesomely elegant and simple, I think. I can see the addiction to Blackberries and iPhones and such just for the scratchpad capabilities.

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                      • #12
                        Having multiple systems isn't wrong; it's just potentially more complicated.

                        Originally posted by jpm View Post
                        Not possible in a locked down corporate environment where you can be fired for putting personal stuff on equipment issued by your employer or for putting employer data (i.e. corporate email) on personal equipment. There are times when you simply must separate work and personal.
                        I'm only referring to keeping the action reminders that go on a list together. If you're storing e-mails in @Action on your corporate e-mail server then you are indeed "blind" to those choices when you're not logged in. That's okay during the week, but I sometimes have difficulties during the weekly review when the next action reminder is sitting where I can't see it.

                        I don't think anyone's going to get fired over having reminders like "Finalize XYZ business proposal" and "Call Fred re: XYZ proposal" written on a personally-owned paper list or smartphone.

                        A couple of years ago I remember writing on a thread with TesTeq about separate systems for home and work. There are times where it's necessary if you absolutely refuse to use paper and have no way to synchronize your data. You *can* make it work but it complicates GTD by spreading your system across multiple locations with boundaries. A GTD newbie might have difficulty with the extra complexity and eventually give up on GTD. Even after doing GTD with multiple systems for a couple of years I eventually got fed up with the boundaries and having to conduct multiple weekly reviews. Eventually I found a way to export my action reminders home (I use Outlook at home and work; the solution was CSV export of Tasks and bits of Calendar) so I didn't have to manually re-enter them. Having all of my action reminders (minus the @ folders in my e-mail systems) in one place makes it easier to review and trust my system.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                          I don't think anyone's going to get fired over having reminders like "Finalize XYZ business proposal" and "Call Fred re: XYZ proposal" written on a personally-owned paper list or smartphone.
                          Actually, there are situations where you can not only be fired, but potentially subject to criminal prosecution, if you work with classified materials. There may be more people in that sort of situation than you think, because it includes government contractors as well as government employees.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                            Actually, there are situations where you can not only be fired, but potentially subject to criminal prosecution, if you work with classified materials.
                            And if you are working in a SCIF you can't take paper in or out either and may be subject to personal searches every time you enter or leave. Which does make planning bathroom and coffee breaks a bit more of an exercise than for most people.

                            BTDT.

                            In a situation like that 2 compartmentalized systems are critical.

                            Also, if I was in that situation now and trying to implement GTD I'd plan at least a 5 minute clear your mind time upon entering the cleared area to capture any GTD tasks for the classified work onto approved tracked paper and a 5 minute time upon exit to capture any tasks for the clear text part of your life.

                            Most places like that provide lockers for personal stuff (cell phone, PDA, notebook, purse etc) outside and there may be a changing room (depending on level of security) so you can stash a notepad there to capture clear text stuff easily.

                            On the inside most have certain approved types of note taking devices, typically bound notebooks with numbered pages that can serve as an inbox for you when on the inside.

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