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Context Simplification



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Proximo

Posted: Jun 23, 2009
Score: 0



I would like to start this topic off by saying that I am a GTDer but I don't follow system 100%. Probably 90% or so, but there are some things I don't put as much focus into that David Allen teaches.

GTD is flexible like Toodledo and that is one of the reasons I use most of the GTD methods.

With that said. I wanted to ask a couple of questions about Context usage.

1. What different context do you currently use?

2. Do you actually use the context of task to separate your task into Context Containers often?

The first question is very simple for most. I currently use the following context

@home
@office
@computer
@phone
@email
@meeting
@agenda
@online

The second questions is a little more difficult. What I am wanting to know is. How often are you filtering by your context in order to get a good perspective on what you need to do. I find myself not using the context as often as I probably should, but in my environment, there are very few instances where I would need to filter by @phone for example.

I find that I simply look at my list based on the current Status more than anything else. Specifically I use Next Action, Active and Planning the most often.

Just wanted your thoughts on Context and how you feel they are working for you.

Thanks in advanced


This message was edited Jun 23, 2009.
lite1

Posted: Jun 23, 2009
Score: 1



I don't use Context at all, don't even display it as a field on my screen, and also simplifies my Task entry.
I utilize perhaps 80-90% of GTD and am fairly new to it. For me one of the main insights is that one should manage actions (not time); and hence having a reliable system that supports deciding on Next Actions to take is vital. While I have several areas of focus in my life for which I use Folders; and Projs are Parent Tasks most of the time I am at the office where I always have computer (and therefore email), phone, and in our small office the people for whom I might have an agenda are within 30 feet. At home I always have phone and computer, email and other tools close by.

I guess I do have one context, a folder that I call Zapp which is combo of tasks that are either for when I am at low energy, or that are fairly quick (< 10 minutes); usually none have a great deal of Priority/Importance and yet knocking off a bunch of these Zapp items usually gives me a sense of accomplishment and leads to an energy boost.

So far I also find that I can by with very limited use of Tags; yet I have several hundred tasks in TD and the weekly review which DA suggests should take an hour to 2 hours to do is also a key.

My goal is to keep my use of GTD and implementing it thru TD as simple as possible but not too simple. So far I just find little value for Context and while I can envision a life where it would be a great asset, for me it would be foolish to emulate it simple because it works for DA and the people he coaches.

Edward
Proximo

Posted: Jun 25, 2009
Score: 0



@lite1

Wow, This is exactly what I was thinking myself but was not sure how to come out and say it. My work environment and home environment are basically the same as you.

I find myself adding the context, but never really tackle my task based on the context. I also noticed that I never use the context view or the context filter for that matter.

Just wanted to see if anyone else using GTD has deviated from the context usage, based on their environment.

Thanks for the information. I actually feel so much better now, that I am not the only one that is thinking this way. I felt that I was cheating my GTD, but the purpose of GTD is to be productive and not everything suggested will make sense for everyone.

Thanks again.
lite1

Posted: Jun 25, 2009
Score: 0



Proximo, glad that the post was helpful. Great forum community which is truly the best add-on for TD. Edward
Vin Thomas

Posted: Jun 25, 2009
Score: 0



I agree with both lite1 and Proximo. I barely use context. But when I do, it comes in super handy! For that reason alone I keep it part of my system.

I have 8 contexts, and two of them that I find myself using every now and again are @store and @mail. When I am going to the post office, I just check my @mail context to make sure I have everything I need. Also, when I find myself at the store, I check my @store context.

If it weren't for those times I would ditch context as well. I never use it in my regular daily use. It would be nice if there were some way to enable it only for certain folders or certain tasks. But that would complicate things for most people, so I can live with it the way it is.
Big KC

Posted: Jun 25, 2009
Score: 2



I think David Allen would be the first to say that there aren't hard requirements around context in GTD. The premise of context is that it helps you to focus in on just the tasks that you are able to perform right now, so you don't always need to scan 150+ actions to decide what to do. But the way to accomplish that focus may differ vastly by person.

D.A. uses an @phone context because he travels a lot, and often can't make calls (e.g. if he's on an airplane, or in a remote location with a weak signal). I only fly a few times per year, on the other hand. I'm rarely unable to use my phone. Thus, @phone would not make any sense as a context for me. I think to use it would go against the spirit of GTD.

I use an @home and @work context. I work from home, so technically I don't need both of them. But it helps me to keep some kind of mental boundary between the two--important for maintaining some work/life balance.

I have @boss and @wife contexts so I can make the best use of my time with those important people.

I also have an @errands context for all the stuff that requires me to leave my house. Since I work from home, I sometimes go days at a time without leaving. Seeing the errands pile up gives me an incentive to get out for a while.

There are some tasks I can only do on my home computer. I have limited access to it since the kids are often on it. So I've created an @home computer context. When I get my turn, I can pull up all those tasks quickly. I haven't used it as much since I got my iPod Touch. I may get rid of that for simplicity.

There are three other contexts that everyone in my house uses: @morning chores; @dinnertime chores; and @bedtime chores. I've created our family chore schedule in Toodledo using repeating tasks assigned to these contexts. Since we have agreed to times for completing chores, this works well as a context for us...especially for the kids.

Finally, I have an @anywhere context, which I've been using sort of like Edward's "Zapp" folder. Quick items that I can do anywhere, whenever I have just a short time to spare. I might change the name to @zapp. I like that.

So, to net it out, I use the following:
@home
@work
@wife
@boss
@errands
@anywhere (soon to become @zapp)
@home computer (might get rid of this)
@morning chores
@dinnertime chores
@bedtime chores

I assign one of these contexts to everything that I consider a "Next Action". I don't use the status field. If it has one of these contexts, it's a Next Action. If it doesn't it's not.

I also have the following two contexts that are not really contexts in the GTD sense:
zSomeday
zWaiting
This way, I can maintain maintain my someday/maybe list and my waiting list without using the Status field. It saves some trouble for data entry.

I use context pretty consistently. In fact, since I don't use the status field, the only way I can access my Next Actions is to look at my contexts.

That said, I don't think the other viewpoints in this string are contrary to GTD. If you've found a way to focus in (more or less) on the tasks that you can actually do in your current situation, then you are following the spirit of GTD contexts whether you use the context field or not. On the other hand, if you are using the context field in a way that doesn't help you narrow your action list in a useful way, then you are not following the spirit of GTD contexts.
Proximo

Posted: Jun 26, 2009
Score: 0



@BigKC

Thanks for sharing your tips and usage. It's very interesting how different our work environments can be. I currently use a tag called "Low" meaning it's a low energy task that my not ever be a high priority, but It takes little energy to accomplish when I have time. Works like the Zapp folder or @Zapp context if BigKC decided to change it. :-)

I use the tag to keep my low energy task within the area of focus. I have low energy work task and low energy home task.

Thanks for all the input.
lite1

Posted: Jun 26, 2009
Score: 0



Posted by Big KC:
...
I assign one of these contexts to everything that I consider a "Next Action". I don't use the status field. If it has one of these contexts, it's a Next Action. If it doesn't it's not.

I also have the following two contexts that are not really contexts in the GTD sense:
zSomeday
zWaiting
This way, I can maintain maintain my someday/maybe list and my waiting list without using the Status field. It saves some trouble for data entry.

I use context pretty consistently. In fact, since I don't use the status field, the only way I can access my Next Actions is to look at my contexts.

Thx for good clear post Big KC on how you use Context.

Perhaps we share a similar motivation to simplify data entry and use the strategy of eliminating the number of fields that we use (and in my case even display on screen). While I do make feature requests of TD, a number of them are along the lines of making entry quicker, OR making it quicker easier to hide data that for the moment is clutter - so in latter respect I am really using DA principle of "context" filtering even though I do not use Context field at all.

I only quoted the part which is relevant to another thread that I had started under Tips/Tricks: Use fields to do it your way - not TDs definition of field http://www.toodledo.com/forums/3/2253/0/use-fields-to-do-it-your-way-not-tds-definition-4-field.html
I wish there were an easier way to cross reference things in the Forum; often times something posted in Questions quickly becomes an excellent Tip/Trick; or GTD sub-forum info is really not unique in anyway to GTD as "context". Appreciate the open structure of TD and the creativity/personal style in how users sculpt as a tool to fit their personal environment.

Edward


This message was edited Jun 26, 2009.
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