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Hey group,

I'm struggling with defining the right contexts. As an example, take the "Make doctor's appointment" task. I'm really not sure where to file it... I always have the phone with me so a "Phone" context is not really that useful. I also don't want to do it right now but it doesn't belong in either "Home" or "Office" context... so I'm not sure how to handle such tasks.

How are you doing it ?

Thanks,
Cezar
 
I have top-level contexts for Location, Workflow, Waiting For, and Always. Under Workflow, I have contexts consider, define, research, do, tidy up, deliver/report, and close.

I might file this type of action as "Workflow : do" or "Workflow : research" depending on how pedantic I am at the moment ...

******

* Annual Checkup (sequential)
- Prep (parallel)
-- determine my times for appointment (research)
-- set up doctor's appointment (do)
- Visit (parallel)
-- get health record (Waiting For : doctor)
-- decide questions for doctor (define)
-- discuss next steps (tidy up)
- file paperwork (close)

******

* Annual Checkup (sequential)
- set up doctor's appointment (research)
- Visit (parallel)
-- get health record (Waiting For : doctor)
-- decide questions for doctor (define)
-- discuss next steps (tidy up)
- file paperwork (close)
 
For me, this would probably be in the "scary stuff" context, a context that I keep quarantined so that I'm not put off from looking at my other lists. But that's my own doctor-phobic self.

I could imagine a "private phone calls" context, which requires that the resources of phone, quiet, privacy, address book, calendar, a notebook for scribbling notes, and credit cards, be available. Some phone calls won't need the credit cards, some won't need the calendar, but these resources should generally allow you to plow through all pending phone calls.

Or I might just dump it in "miscellaneous".
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJJWMac View Post
I have top-level contexts for Location, Workflow, Waiting For, and Always. Under Workflow, I have contexts consider, define, research, do, tidy up, deliver/report, and close.

I might file this type of action as "Workflow : do" or "Workflow : research" depending on how pedantic I am at the moment ...

******

* Annual Checkup (sequential)
- Prep (parallel)
-- determine my times for appointment (research)
-- set up doctor's appointment (do)
- Visit (parallel)
-- get health record (Waiting For : doctor)
-- decide questions for doctor (define)
-- discuss next steps (tidy up)
- file paperwork (close)

******

* Annual Checkup (sequential)
- set up doctor's appointment (research)
- Visit (parallel)
-- get health record (Waiting For : doctor)
-- decide questions for doctor (define)
-- discuss next steps (tidy up)
- file paperwork (close)
Isn't "DO" a bit to broad of a context ? Do you mind posting your contexts lists (for inspiration) ?
 
Cezar,

Understanding contexts is not about what they are, but what they are not. Contexts do not provide you with the task you are going to do. They are used to filter a long list into a shorter list. From a reduced list one then can make a determination based on time, energy, priority, or any appropriate combination thereof to identify a task to "do".

Since the requirement to further choose a task to do within a context it is always encouraged to write very specific tasks. "Call doctor" will not be clear later when running through a list of calls, nor will "Make doctor's appointment" when you need to email specific information to the receptionist. As a brief example; I would write some variation of the following as tasks.
  • Call doctor's office to schedule an appointment next week for my son's annual school physical > context of "iPhone"
  • Email doctor's office receptionist with requested forms and verify scheduled appointment date/time > context of "Any Device"

Sample context list:
  • Office
  • Mac
    • iMac
    • MacBook
    • iPhone
    • Any Device
  • Agenda
    • Work
      • Boss
      • Coworker1
      • Coworker2
      • Anyone
    • Client
      • Owner
      • Contact1
      • Contact2
      • Anyone
    • Family
      • Spouse
      • Child
      • Mother
    • Friends
      • Friend1
      • Friend2
      • Friend3
  • Errand
    • Doctor
    • Gym
    • Library
    • Post Office
    • Store
      • Store1
      • Store2
      • Store3

Before everyone asks: I use "Any Device" and "Anyone" as context under specific parent context to help in making custom perspectives.

My iPhone perspective would be filtered to show only available tasks from a selection of the contexts; iPhone, Any Device, Errands. I can then further choose from a shortened list of what is a priority or something I want to do, like emailing the receptionist at the doctor's office or calling the same receptionist.

My Coworker1 perspective would be filtered to show only available tasks from a selection of the contexts; Coworker1, Anyone. I can then move forward on tasks which can be done specifically with coworker1 or any general tasks that anyone within the office could assist with.

I hope my perspective on contexts helps you in your inquiry.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mixandgo View Post
Isn't "DO" a bit to broad of a context ? Do you mind posting your contexts lists (for inspiration) ?
Yes to some extent. It fits to a problem-solving mentality on the workflow list. When I lay out the sequence of tasks for a project, having the workflow sub-contexts helps me to stay honest about why I am to do a certain task, especially whether it is a sequence or parallel. Attached is a picture.
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Thank you all for your replies. I'm gonna need to do some thinking and reorganising :)
 
I think you're on the right track. These days a lot of people have all their tools with them: a phone, a computer, an iPad etc. It means that "tools" context becomes useless.

So the idea of sorting actions into contexts becomes useless in this case. I suggest that you go without contexts and put all your actions on one common list. In this case you can solve "Make doctor's appointment" with your phone or email or whatever tool you prefer that time of the day :)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EugeneB View Post
I think you're on the right track. These days a lot of people have all their tools with them: a phone, a computer, an iPad etc. It means that "tools" context becomes useless.
I disagree with that premise. Just because I have my phone with me all the time does not mean it's not useful to have a separate phone context. Part of the reason is the time, energy and mental bandwidth required to change contexts. It's more efficient if I bundle a bunch of phone calls at once since I'll be in "phone mode"

I live and work in the same place but that means I actually use more contexts than most folks who travel to a worksite. I use contexts to prevent me getting distracted and to save on the get ready and clean-up that happens whenever I switch contexts.

I actually use 2 phone contexts, phone business hours and phone. For me the action would be call doctor's office to make apt. for annual checkup and it would be in the phone business hours context as I can't do it any other time.
 
Oogiem, I see it works for you. You mean for you it is easier to make all the phone calls when you are in a "phone mode"? What is a "phone mode"? How do you know when the person on the other end of the line has the same "business hours" as yours?
 
 


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