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When a task can be done in more than one context...

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  • When a task can be done in more than one context... do you assign it a context?

    For example, I've got tasks that
    • can only be done on my laptop
    • can only be done on my iPad
    • can be done on either

    What do you do with that third category? The only thing I can think to do is create a third "Laptop or iPad" context.

    There's an added complication: I don't want to see tasks that I need an internet connection for when I don't have one. That's what contexts are for: only seeing the actions you can do right now.

    So in addition to the laptop or ipad or either, I also need to specify whether a task requires internet nor not. So it looks like I need six contexts to make this work:
    1. Laptop Only - No Internet
    2. iPad only - No Internet
    3. Laptop or iPad - No Internet
    4. Laptop Only - Internet
    5. iPad only - Internet
    6. Laptop or iPad - Internet

    Yuck. And I don't see any way of using nested contexts to make this less unwieldy. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  • #2
    maybe you need diffrent contexts


    maybe this idea might help...

    your struggling might mean that you might need a different context, and that you're not using the right "entry".

    For example, if I have some reading to do, I could do it on the train, or in the bus, or at home, or... in a hundred other places... instead of defining those 100 contexts and struggle with them, I just defined a context "reading". This meant I approached the NA's from another point of view.

    Almost all my activities (except reading) are done at my home office (i'm self employed), at my pc. So I don't have a @pc-context. It wouldn't help me. Instead I have contexts that are more linked to my type of activity (search, write, develop, ...).



    • #3
      Think about this: What's a laptop? What's an iPad?

      You want as many contexts as you *need*, but as few as you can get by with. Too many contexts causes organizing to become difficult.

      A laptop is a computer. An iPad is a computer. I suggest you create @Computer for anything that requires a computer and @Computer-Web for anything that requires an Internet connection if your @Computer list regularly shows a bunch of undoable things because you don't have Web access. I'll bet that the majority of your computer-related tasks could be done on any computer. Don't create @iPad unless you're regularly encountering actions that require that device and nothing else.

      The way to tell if you really need a context is to try to do without it and see if items show up on another list that you regularly can't do. That's how David Allen came up with @Computer-Web. He'd be looking at his @Computer list on a plane in the days before in-flight WiFi and see a bunch of actions he couldn't do. So he created @Computer-Web and moved all actions requiring a Web connection there. When in flight he'd just fold away that list and it wouldn't bug him at all.

      Some applications like MS Outlook allow you assign multiple categories to an item. Use that capability to assign multiple contexts to a single item if that fits your situation.

      Good luck,