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Really Basic, but I need to ask Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I am a MD of network engineering. I use GTD to increase my own productivity.
I have been doing it on Outlook and 3x5's for years. Now I am moving to OF
1.5 on my MBP and 1.1 on my IP3G. Moving project tasks over is easy. The problem I have is assigning contexts. When reviewing cards I reviewed the Inbox, adding tasks to projects. When deciding what to do, I look at all my projects and see next task on the list I can do at the moment.

I never thought of that at work: with computer: at work: next meeting I have on this project ??

I suppose what I fear is making my contexts so ridgid, or less (where everything just goes in to a "Projects" context is not useful at all. I fear I may get all the project data in to place, but then 'how to set up the contexts" is going to hit me and I will have a ton of work to do.

I don't believe I am the only one to have hit this stumbling block.
This would be so much work, I am not too proud to ask.... Many people deal
with multiple projects at one time. Would anyone care to share their
context list that has been through the experience of having too liberal
or too many contexts and has found the right level that works for them?

Because I doubt I would be so dissimilar that I would not benefit from
someone who has already gone through this time consuming process that I
believe is a learning experience. While each person I suspect is different,
largely I believe starting with a list of contexts that works for someone
that deals with multiple projects is going to leave me much better off than
the pain of learning from scratch.

Many thanks in advance!

Mark
 
This is exactly what I'm struggling with too.

So far I have found that making a context for each person that I work with regularly is very helpful.

Also helpful is creating a context for each "mode" of work I'm in. Sometimes I'm deep into some MySQL work and am happy to move forward on a bunch of projects I have that need a MySQL step. Other times I'm working on our website in a Coda/BBEdit/Dreamweaver frame of mind. I like to group tasks by context like that too.

Finally, I've found it useful to group a few physical places such as Office, Home, Home Office, Branch A, Branch B, and Errands.

Every time I feel like contexts aren't working for me, I arrive at the same solution: I need to do a better job defining the task.

Unfortunately, this takes time, and that causes me to take shortcuts that only hamper the whole "trusted system" concept. I'm not giving up though.

Anyone else out there, please share your context tips. Thanks in advance.

- Justin
 
I've defined and redefined my contexts a few times. My problem is that I find that when I work on my computer, I prefer a 'flatter' list of contexts because I can very easily pick and choose the contexts I want to see together (command-click) and working on the iphone I prefer a more nested system. I started out more nested, then got away from the iphone and 'flattened' my contexts. With the 1.1 release, I'm back to using my iphone more and re-nested them. I can still do the command-click thing if my sidebar is expanded.

Another change I have made revolves around my 'desk' actions. Again, I think I had them split when I had a top level of contexts split into 'work' and 'home'. Then when I flattened the contexts, it didn't make much sense to have them split (because most of the desk-type items, even if they are work related, I can do at home. And it seemed artificial to have them separate when, if I was sitting at my desk I could just as easily do work-task-A or home-task-B. But in my re-nesting, I realized I always mentally choose which I'm going to do (a work task vs. a home task) and I'm happier with them split.

Just my two cents.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by malisa View Post
I've defined and redefined my contexts a few times. My problem is that I find that when I work on my computer, I prefer a 'flatter' list of contexts because I can very easily pick and choose the contexts I want to see together (command-click) and working on the iphone I prefer a more nested system. I started out more nested, then got away from the iphone and 'flattened' my contexts. With the 1.1 release, I'm back to using my iphone more and re-nested them. I can still do the command-click thing if my sidebar is expanded.
Don't forget that you can use the perspectives mechanism to do the equivalent of your command-click action, assuming you have combinations that you use frequently. Nest them like you want them for the iPhone, and use a perspective for the desktop, giving you the best of each.
 
I've only been using OF for a week or two, and this is an area I will evolve over time. I am still using basically what was setup out of the box with a few additions. I first wanted to scale back to one "office" context, but decided I'd still with this for a while and maybe get some of the logic behind it.

What has helped me is setting up Perspectives that group my contexts for a mindset I'm in. I've also used the technique recorded in a couple of YouTube videos to create a "Do Today" Perspective and this is really helping me get better control over my time.

I think the real answer to your question lies in re-reading David Allen's book. I just skimmed back through the parts related to this topic a few days ago.
 
Another useful criteria is whether you can immediately decide which context an action goes in. As Justin mentions, sometimes that difficulty is due to the task not being clearly defined. But sometimes the task is clear but you just have too many contexts to choose from. I've ultimately gravitated toward a fairly minimal set of contexts and find that works well. For me fewer contexts means quicker collection and processing and less time spent fiddling with the system.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by curt.clifton View Post
Another useful criteria is whether you can immediately decide which context an action goes in. As Justin mentions, sometimes that difficulty is due to the task not being clearly defined. But sometimes the task is clear but you just have too many contexts to choose from. I've ultimately gravitated toward a fairly minimal set of contexts and find that works well. For me fewer contexts means quicker collection and processing and less time spent fiddling with the system.
Thanks Curt, this is helpful. As far as "Going back and reading David Allens book again", I own several worn copies and can nearly recite most sections from memory.

I have been reading the responses, and revisiting his book, and analyzing my prior system. From a purest standpoint, Allen said that he has studied dozens of software systems and none met the need. The fact he has recommended software goes against his 20+ years, but I suspect he has to eat.

Critical to the GTD process is the Inbox. The phone application simply does not replace my pen and 3x5 cards. If the application did much of what the desktop application does (allow re-ordering of tasks, had different methods of presenting the data, and a quick short cut all part of the desktop application, it might make it. Until it has those basic features it can not capture inbox as fast as my cards, and it can not present the data as well as perspectives in the desktop application making the current form of the phone application useless to me at this time. I have faith...

As for the context issue, the struggle here is brain verses computer.
Looking through my cards and folders with project cards in them, and back of cards for when I am at home, etc. I note that I look at the various cards that make up tasks for a project, and the context of the tasks are vast as I am processing the input from these project task cards at brain speed where deviations or augmentation from a specific context is not big deal. When using OF, I am forced to fit it in to one context, when formerly it may have fit in 4-5 contexts that my brain can handle easily without much thought.
Struggling to put it in to a single context, wide, narrow, is not the same as multiple contexts.

Hence this process breaks David Allens royal rule, to those that read the book... Every automated/electronic system he reviewed took more effort to maintain than the manual system he devises and describes in the book.
It is true. I find myself spending more time quickly jotting down thoughts on a IPHONE?? With that keyboard???? NOT! Do it from the keyboard, sure.
THen I have to file them by project, and set their contexts.

This verses, drop it on a black input 3x5 card, 6 seconds to take card and pen out of shirt pocket and begin writing. Then to sort them, I walk through each card that contains projects, and I add the new tasks from my inbox card. The contexts are obvious at brain speed while simply reading them.

I purchased this MBP and Iphone3G plus the broadband adapter and $60/mo plan to run OF on MBP and Iphone, and it turns out once again it can't beat my paper system. Reporting? Yes on the MBP with views and perspectives indeed! But not on the Iphone, as they don't exist.

What I thought was a simple problem with contexts turned out to doom OF for me. I am not a apple fan, so that is $4500 down the drain. :(
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by defilmj View Post
Hence this process breaks David Allens royal rule, to those that read the book... Every automated/electronic system he reviewed took more effort to maintain than the manual system he devises and describes in the book.
It is true. I find myself spending more time quickly jotting down thoughts on a IPHONE?? With that keyboard???? NOT! Do it from the keyboard, sure.
THen I have to file them by project, and set their contexts.
I type a whole lot faster than I write legibly. I see the iPhone as an extension of the context view, not the project view -- do most data entry or planning at the real keyboard (project view), and execute from the iPhone (context view). Seems like a hybrid of your existing note-taking on cards + capture at a real keyboard would be better than pecking away at the iPhone.

I'm not sure which "Royal rule" you're referring to, as I find references to digital organizers, etc. sprinkled about the book, including admissions that the author uses them. What he seems to dismiss as unhelpful for his purposes are project planning programs, and there I would agree with his assertion that most of the packages are way more complex and powerful than most people need to organize their tasks.

Quote:
I purchased this MBP and Iphone3G plus the broadband adapter and $60/mo plan to run OF on MBP and Iphone, and it turns out once again it can't beat my paper system. Reporting? Yes on the MBP with views and perspectives indeed! But not on the Iphone, as they don't exist.

What I thought was a simple problem with contexts turned out to doom OF for me. I am not a apple fan, so that is $4500 down the drain. :(
And I've got a big stack of 3x5 cards that I don't use. Would you like to trade? No reason why we should both be unhappy with our purchases. I'll even throw in a handful of ballpoint pens and Post-It(tm) pads :-)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
I'm not sure which "Royal rule" you're referring to
I think defilmj means the rule that if a system is too much work to maintain, you won't do it.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by defilmj View Post
The phone application simply does not replace my pen and 3x5 cards. If the application did much of what the desktop application does (allow re-ordering of tasks, had different methods of presenting the data, and a quick short cut all part of the desktop application, it might make it.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but the iPhone app *does* allow reordering, even in the inbox. I use it frequently.

It also offers a few different ways of presenting the data, although admittedly not as many as the desktop app. But it's a delicate balance between features, usability, and learning curve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by defilmj View Post
I purchased this MBP and Iphone3G plus the broadband adapter and $60/mo plan to run OF on MBP and Iphone, and it turns out once again it can't beat my paper system. Reporting? Yes on the MBP with views and perspectives indeed! But not on the Iphone, as they don't exist.

What I thought was a simple problem with contexts turned out to doom OF for me. I am not a apple fan, so that is $4500 down the drain. :(
Anything other than a purely digital system seems awkward and inefficient to me. I'd never go back to pen and paper. But to each his own, I guess.

As for your $4500, there's always eBay. Apple products (particularly MacBook Pros) hold their value quite well.

-Dennis
 
 


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