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Non-OF Question: My contexts rarely vary Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Does anyone have tips on how to actually get things done when most of your contexts are available most of the time. (Sorry. This is not an OF question.)

I've been loosely following a GTD philosophy for almost 3 years now. I tend to jump on and off the band wagon. I seem to always come back to the same dilemma: most of my contexts are available most of the time.

For example, I'm an IT worker. I rarely travel. I have access to the internet almost all the time. I can access my work files from home and my home files from work. As a result, I have difficulty deciding what context to process, when and how often.

What I've been doing recently is making a list of my contexts and making sure I work through them daily or every few days. This is not ideal because now I have another list of items to track: I'm tracking my progress through contexts. This just doesn't feel right.

I'm open to any suggestions. How do you make sure all your contexts get attention when your contexts don't vary (or are not isolated)?

Originally Posted by jpepper View Post
I've been loosely following a GTD philosophy for almost 3 years now. I tend to jump on and off the band wagon. I seem to always come back to the same dilemma: most of my contexts are available most of the time.
You sound like me! This is a light-hearted response: I think we need to get a life! Like you, I can do most things almost anywhere I am, and that's the problem.
I had the same feeling, and posted about it - there are quite a few replies there:

Personally, my advice is to stay away from contexts such as Computer: email, Computer: upgrades, ect.

It just didn't work for me (although for others I guess it does).

Also, I started with a long list of rather specific contexts and crashed and burned on that one as well. So, I reverted to starting with as few as possible and then adding as they became necessary as an improvement. (i.e. rather than trying to think of every possible context (or organizing context) ahead of time, start with as small a list as possible, and grow as necessary as you learn how your GTD/OmniFocus workflow flows). That approach worked for me.

Here is my current list:
-----Strict (MUST be done at the physical work office)
-----After Hours (for server maintenance when nobody is logged in)

I had similar problems when I started playing around with contexts. I work at home and 99% of my tasks are computer tasks. So I had a “@Mac” context and that was that.

But then I focussed on this last percent and found my contexts. I live in two towns, hence two contexts popped up for official stuff, i. e. finances. Then I moved all the E-Mail activities into @Agenda, as most of those (rare) discussions could just as well be handled on the phone or in person.

Another thought: I know of other writers who use daytime contexts as they have a strict regimen how they do their work. So they have @morning, @noon, @afternoon, @evening, the contexts reflecting the different mind-sets they have during the day. I heard of at least one developer who works the same way, e. g. he does all the application modelling in the morning and the code crunching at nights.

But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having very few or even only one context if your work / life permits it. Or even asks for it.

I'm in a similar situation. I've been using project- and area-of-life-based contexts for a long time. It can be helpful to be able to click on client-x rather than having to go to the project view. However, I have it in the back of my mind to get rid of those and pare down the list even further and see how that goes. Here's Merlin's post on the topic.
I also do most of my OF tasks on the computer (which is of course where I have access to OF - duh). I'm starting to experiment more with state of mind contexts. Sometimes I need certain focus to do script or code writing, other times I'm in a groove to use a particular language or application. Other times its about doing a certain activity like archiving files (I'd rather burn 5 DVDs in a row then just now and then).


I created a diagram when I was trying to figure out contexts. I started by making a quadrant out of what seemed to be the two major contextual divides in my life. Once I had that I found it quite simply to easily populate each of the quadrants with usefully distinct contexts.
This felt very much like a good way to think about it, but I confess that I can't quite figure out why, so your mileage may very well vary.

In @meetings I have explicitly subdivided into various regular meetings that I attend, and in @people I have subdivided into different specific people.

While the quadrants actually work fairly well, there were some overlapping contexts. That's because the people in @people can be either work people or friends/family etc., and because @sideprojects tend to creep outside of work hours. Again, your mileage may vary.

You can draw your own conclusions about my work life balance from looking at where the lines are drawn :)
ids, love the concept, and have a question: why is @career and @sideprojects contexts? They sounds (just from the name) like groups of projects.
You might be right :)

They are focus areas for me, in the sense that I want to think about them separately, which suggests as you say that they are groups of projects.

However, the context-like thing about them is that I don't want actions from these things to be visible when I'm trying to do my core job. I find these things to be particularly distracting, and so only want to think about them when I want to think about them. Same goes for @admin.

Does that make sense?
I'm in a similar situation: all my contexts are available all the time. I've found that my big GTD stumbling block has been that I've been focusing too much on contexts, and not enough on projects.

In terms of populating contexts with actions, I try to keep work stuff separate from home stuff. I'll do home stuff at work, but not vice-versa ;) I'm excited about OF because of the way it allows me to group contexts and see all of my Mac things together or drilling down into Mac : Work1 (I have 3 different workplaces :S ).

I think that I've been falling off GTD because I get tired of doing single tasks based on contexts; the real excitement is in consciously knocking off projects, not doing them accidentally as a result of working through contexts.

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