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How are you using contexts? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Well, here's how my contexts have finally broken down (so far):
@ Home
> @ Spare Time
@ Lab
> @ Lab Meeting
> @ Bench
> @ Desk
> @ Ordering
@ Call
@ Computer
> @ Online
> @ Email
@ Errands
> @ Target
> @ HEB
@ Spring, TX
@ Harlingen, TX
@ Waiting

I have a specific subcontext for my spare time at home because it was easy for me to spend all my spare time playing WoW or finding the ends of the internet instead of working on various projects, but I also needed to keep them separate from the things at home that needed to get done.

My Lab contexts took quite a bit of refining - I was creating lots of subcontexts here that seemed like good ideas at the time, but never used. Ordering may seem like a strange one, but there's a set time that I do our lab's ordering, and I wanted to keep them out of my desk.

I also have contexts for places I visit frequently (Spring and Harlingen) where my parents and inlaws live. I may one day add subcontexts for Austin, Dallas, and College Station, but right now I just don't visit them enough to have specific things to do there.

I tried using Agenda contexts for important people, but I discovered the 'who' to wasn't as important as the 'how' or 'where'. It ended up being easier to search for a name to see all the tasks concerning them.
 
Here are my contexts.
Newbie to GTD, so there might be a lot of ways to improve this.
Any advice on this is *very* welcomed.

Code:
@ brain                When I just need to think, no physical place needed
@ computer             On my laptop
@ mail
@ net                  Different from mail, because I often use Mail.app while offline
@ phone
  @ freePhone
@ calendar             For the various stuff I want to plan in a recurrent way (seeing friends, have sport...).
@ home 
  @ desk
@ Errand
  @ Groceries
@ Agenda
  @ Key people agenda
  @ ...
@ WFor
  @ Key people WFor
  @ ...
I might later delete the @calendar context, and take care of this tasks in one review.


As I already stated, any hint of improvement would be greatly appreciated.
 
As the thread-starter, I should probably also show mine.

At Home
> alone
> with my wife
In the neighbourhood [nearby shops]
At the Office
Elsewhere
> alone
> with my wife
Mac [I carry my MacBook to work and am online at both locations]
Phone [cell, so basically 'everywhere']
> after office hours [this is a very useful distinction]
Think
Wait
My Wife [delegated tasks]
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lutin
Here are my contexts.
I might later delete the @calendar context, and take care of this tasks in one review.

As I already stated, any hint of improvement would be greatly appreciated.
I would ditch the calendar context. Since entering appointments on my calendar can be done within 2 minutes, I do the task right away when I process my inbox and it doesn't need a context.
 
Here are my current contexts (I'm a historian at an R1 university, and also incoming director of our graduate program):

HTML Code:
Reflection - context for those things I need to think about anywhere
Agendas
     (my wife)
     (my department chair)
     (graduate secretary)
     (colleague I'm co-teaching with)
     (outgoing graduate director)
Computer
     Internet
     Email
     Offline
Errands
Home
Library
Office
Phone
Study
Waiting
I had thought about doing a more fine-grained division of my "Office" and "Study" contexts, but I have decided to use folders and focusing instead, because it seems a more useful approach.

Last edited by brianogilvie; 2007-07-19 at 07:31 AM.. Reason: fixed formatting
 
My Current Contexts:

Process Collection Buckets
Today Important
Hardlandscape
eMail
Calls
Internet
Computer
Waiting
Place in Car
Home
---Cleaning
Work
---Equipment to Order
---Intern
Errands
Weekly Review

Inside the Process Collection Buckets are all my collection buckets that need to be worked on. Like:
process email inbox to empty
process memo's in palm
process computer desktop to clean
process voice memo's in phone
process physical inbox to empty
process OmniFocus inbox to empty
process Waiting for items due today
process stickies on mac to empty

all of these are set to occur once a day, so that I don't overprocess collection buckets. After all, the purpose of the collection buckets is to have a place where things can lie until you are ready to go through them quickly and add them into your system.

In the projects view I have:
Home
Work
I can select the folder Home, hit the focus button, and when I go into my contexts (like computer) I am only seeing the actions that associate with Home.

The Today Important are places where I put tasks that aren't processing collection buckets but things I want to do that day. Things like:
process emails in drafts

When going through my email inbox, I was getting stuck on responding to people. It would take more than 2-min to process. And I could easily get off into a tangent. So now, when I get to an email I want to respond to, I hit reply, then save and then delete the email out of my inbox. The email is saved in my draft box for future response.

This slows down my email response time. I view this as a good thing.

Today important also has item like:
Review Projects
Get haircut
Read new posts in OF Forum

The Hardlandscape is for appointments that need to happen. These are usually items that a project is stuck on, and a meeting needs to happen before the project can move forward.

Place in Car
is one I am still fooling around with.

The idea is, there are processes, like Errands or taking something back to work, where the next action is to place something in the car for it to be taken somewhere. For example:
-Clean out Closet
--Go through closet and select clothes to get rid of - Home
--Place bag of clothes in car - place in car
--take clothes to goodwill - errands

When I am going through my Home context, I go through my closet and get rid of clothes. The point of resistance in this project is getting them to goodwill. By checking the 'place in car' context, I am reminded that I need to place the clothes in car on my way out to the car.

This places the items in the car, and I do the errand when I am close to the Goodwill store.

This is a difficult habit to develop. To always be checking place in car before going out to the car.

And there is the minor problem of OF not being mobile. When I look at the 'place in car' context, it's on my way out. I go through all the things I am placing in the car, check them out, and I'm out the door. The 'place in car' action has been checked, the errand action item is now showing up in the list, but the problem is, I am in the car now and haven't reprinted my errand list.

I haven't developed the habit of 10 min before I leave, go through my place in car list.

The habit would look like:
check place in car context
place all items in the place in car context in front of the door
check off place in car action items in OF
select errands context
print out errands context
close OF
eject usb key drive
grab things by door and vaminose

My hope is that OF will someday be mobile. The process would look like.
sync OF to handheld
check place in car context
place items in place in car context in front of door
check off place in car action items in OF
vaminose

It looks like OF is currently using the web interface to my home computer for OF. I don't have a web enabled phone right now, so I haven't been following those threads as much.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiralOcean
Place in Car
is one I am still fooling around with.

The idea is, there are processes, like Errands or taking something back to work, where the next action is to place something in the car for it to be taken somewhere. For example:
-Clean out Closet
--Go through closet and select clothes to get rid of - Home
--Place bag of clothes in car - place in car
--take clothes to goodwill - errands

When I am going through my Home context, I go through my closet and get rid of clothes. The point of resistance in this project is getting them to goodwill. By checking the 'place in car' context, I am reminded that I need to place the clothes in car on my way out to the car.
Thanks for posting your contexts!

I'm curious, though, what the "place in car" context adds that your "home" context wouldn't. In your example, if "Clean out Closet" is a sequential project, why not just have both "go through closet..." and "place bag of clothes in car" in the Home context? Maybe you live in a mansion and taking stuff to the car is a long trek, but in my house, it takes all of a minute at most to walk from any point in the house to the garage. Do you ever put things in "place in car" that don't come from home--for instance, things from the office?

I've also developed the habit of putting anything that should go in the car just in front of the garage door, so that when I go to the car in the morning, I have to confront it before I can get to the car. That's especially useful in climates where something might suffer in the car if you put it there too early.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianogilvie
Thanks for posting your contexts!

I'm curious, though, what the "place in car" context adds that your "home" context wouldn't. In your example, if "Clean out Closet" is a sequential project, why not just have both "go through closet..." and "place bag of clothes in car" in the Home context? Maybe you live in a mansion and taking stuff to the car is a long trek, but in my house, it takes all of a minute at most to walk from any point in the house to the garage. Do you ever put things in "place in car" that don't come from home--for instance, things from the office?

I've also developed the habit of putting anything that should go in the car just in front of the garage door, so that when I go to the car in the morning, I have to confront it before I can get to the car. That's especially useful in climates where something might suffer in the car if you put it there too early.
An excellent point.

I don't live in a mansion... just a humble apartment complex.

I have an adversion to walking out to the car when I know I'll be walking out to the car at some point. And it's possible I could get distracted walking out to the car and not come back to do the next item in my home context.

It's part of the way contexts work... they break all relationship to a project, and put disconnected items into one context. Suddenly... cleaning out my closet does not involve the three steps of
cleaning closet
putting clothes in car
taking clothes to goodwill

It's broken into... what are the things I am doing at home.
Cleaning out the closet.

Then... I'm leaving for my car... what are the things that need to go into my car.

Then... I'm driving around now with some time available... what things can I be doing now... take clothes to goodwill.

When working through actions in a context, a person is completing small separate actions based on where they are and the tools available. Most of those actions do not involve going to a different context.

(Although I know of examples where this could happen... truck drivers for one, but even then, they are in the truck. How about hikers?)

So when I am processing items, I'm not thinking... what's the next step I need to accomplish in this project after this is done. All I'm thinking of is how to complete the task at hand.

I am cleaning out my closet. That's done. What's next in the home context.

not

I am cleaning out my closet. That's done. What's the next step in that project? Oh... I need to take my clothes out to the car. What's the next step after that. Oh... I need to take those clothes to goodwill.

It's almost anti-GTD to think like that. All I'm doing is processing a context.

I also put things in front of my door, that need to be taken out to the car. That's how I've been doing it recently. And I can't think of an example right now for an item that I couldn't just put in front of the door... but there is some subconscious residue in the back of my mind that this has happened before.

I guess one example is my thumb drive with OF on it. I've left the apartment a couple times with the thumb drive at home and had to go back to get it. Yet I can't leave this at the door, because I am using it.

In a far off world... what I envision is to have the iPhone connected to gps & OF. Based on where you are, OF would let you know the things you can do in that location. Based on where you are driving, iPhone could let you know the closest location for completing some errand in OF. I've been dreaming that one for a while... all the tools are here... almost... and it wouldn't take rocket science to have this happen.

It may take some rocket science to make it simple.

Last edited by SpiralOcean; 2007-07-21 at 04:31 PM..
 
For the computer programmers out there... contexts are like object oriented design. An object doesn't have to know about what it's overall code is doing. All it knows is... you gave me these parameters... I do this one thing... I spit out these results.

Last edited by SpiralOcean; 2007-07-21 at 04:35 PM..
 
Here's an update on my current context structure:

Code:
@Computer
   @Offline
@Home
@Office
@Phone
@Roaming
   @Groceries
   @Shopping
@Agenda
   @(Individual people of note)
@Waiting For
   @Delegated
   @Loaned Out
After reading SpiralOcean's tip about using focusing on projects or project folders, I ditched my @Home Computer and @Office Computer sub-contexts. I added @Offline for those things I can do when not connected to the internet -- on my MacBook on the bus, for example.

I also ditched @Email; that goes into @Computer directly. I've also raised my personal limit of "do it/defer it" on writing email from the default GTD "2-minute rule" up to 5 minutes, since the vast majority of emails I send take less than that to write; otherwise I'd be spending as much time adding them to my lists as I would actually answering them.

Since I'm horrible about reminding people if they forget to return books or DVDs I loan out, I created @Loaned Out under @Waiting For as a tracker. I may move this to the Projects view and put them directly into @Waiting For or @Agenda, but I don't like the idea of having a placeholder project for all of those items.
 
 


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