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Which context you look at...

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  • Which context you look at...

    when everything is available and you can do almost anything?

    Let's say for example you work from home so you could do any context except errand...

    Contexts work great for me when I'm on the go so I can check iPad or online or laptop or remote desktop or errand and such but when I'm at home I rely mostly on other criteria like energy because it's possible to do almost any context.

    I also try to keep the system as simple as possible so when I'm processing I don't want to define energy level and time required for every action. I used to do it in the past, but found it to be slightly overkill. I also used to add additionl criterea for work/personal but eventually found that it doesnt really matter whether something is work or personal related.
    I find that additionally defining only high energy actions is sufficient.

    So for some actions which require high energy I add an additional tag “high energy".
    I want to do those actions first in the day. It's not a separate context because those actions still have their contexts like online or iPad and such.

    I'm curios what other people are doing in similar situations, any cool tips, workflow that works for you?

  • #2
    I always just start at the top of my lists (more or less oldest first). Sometimes I skip, because of time, energy, priority. But most of the time, starting from the top is just fine. I find that often (not always) energy gets created when you just jump in and start to work on a task.

    High pressing projects are calendared. This comes naturally because I put deadlines for intermediate sub-projects and deliverables into the calendar. So I have to get this or that delivered 'til Friday? Well, I guess I don't even look at my context lists right now. Just start to work on it.

    Which context? That's easy, my lower back gets to decide wether we sat for too long in our home-office and have to *do something, even if it's just getting the laundry out of the machine. Weather tells me if @errands is available today.


    • #3
      Good question!

      I have the problem a lot of people have today: most of my work can be done almost anywhere, and my home office is as good or better than my work office for most things. A fairly recent post

      has really changed my practices. I have set up new contexts

      Office: Focus
      Office: Thinking
      Office: Short
      Office: Routine
      Office: Braindead
      Office: Home

      I use OmniFocus, so these are children of an Office context. This is convenient for seeing them all together, but the same effect could be achieved differently with other software. I use these sub-contexts to give me a clue about the level of time and energy required. Roughly:

      Focus means I would ideally be fresh and have at least an hour to give the work. This is mostly writing and analysis.
      Thinking is the equivalent of Ms. Kelly's "Noodling" category for things I want to think about. It's an incubator.
      Short means anything up to half an hour, but hopefully less. This is for straightforward items.
      Routine is for triggers to back up computers, process email, whatever.
      Braindead is for stuff that I would like to do, easy but no hurry, maybe fun.
      Home is for office tasks I can't or won't do at work, like personal finances.

      On a good day, I'll have a few hours of Focus time in the morning, and then move to Short or Routine. Home is mostly weekends, Braindead is often late at night. Nothing is carved in stone, and I have flexibility. The categories are intuitively clear to me, so I don't agonize over which category a next action belongs in. When I look at what I've done in a day or a week, the distribution of actions into these contexts give me a useful semi-quantitative picture, and the distribution of current actions give me an idea of how I need to structure my time, e.g., spending more time at home office for focussed tasks or carving out appointment with myself. Or maybe I've been neglecting short but important actions or routine actions because of too much attention to Focus actions. It's been really effective, and I think it's solved the problem of "I can work almost anywhere but how to pick" for me.


      • #4
        Interesting post. Similar thoughts have been floating around my mind for a while now, but I like this approach in principle.



        • #5
          Thanks for sharing,

          I can see how the idea in the article will work If you're going to subdivide just a single context like office.

          But I have more granular contexts like online,laptop, remote desktop, iPad, home and so on. So I don't think it'll work if I'm going to subdivide each context like laptop - high energy, laptop - whatever, and then iPad - high energy, iPad - whatever and so on, Im going to end with too many contexts this way. I also can't group all my computer actions into a single context because they are really different contexts for me (laptop or iPad or remote desktop or online).

          So the only other way to implement this idea would be to simply keep my real physical contexts and then add additional tags.(which is what I'm currently doing except I use only a single additional tag currently - “high energy") I might try to add more and see how it works.

          Then I can filter either by physical contexts or by other set of energy or mood type contexts when its appropriate.
          One downside I can see is that I might see some actions which I can't do in my current physical context when filtering by energy/mood type but if I'm really limited by physical context then I should filter by real physical context anyway so this might not be an issue.
          Another downside is of course that I'll have to assign 2 contexts to each action instead of one so the real question is if this is going to be worth it.


          • #6
            I have the problem a lot of people have today: most of my work can be done almost anywhere, and my home office is as good or better than my work office for most things.
            That’s a problem? I think that’s great!

            But yeah. I’m the same. But if you don’t have a very contextual workload then that’s fine, isn’t it? You just pick things based on priorities and how you are feeling.

            Or maybe I’m getting the wrong end of the stick. Is the concern that it’s hard to know these priorities / what is sensible given how you are feeling?

            As a programmer I’m aware of the important distinction between business-ey work that you can dip into quick and easy and much more focused productional work that you need 30 minutes to warm up into and then, ideally, a couple of hours of sustained effort on. This isn’t just limited to programming of course. I think the same things probably applies to writers, artists, musicians; anyone with a craft.


            • #7
              Originally posted by olliesaunders View Post
              Or maybe I’m getting the wrong end of the stick. Is the concern [...] with a craft.
              If so, what would you suggest?


              • #8
                Dunno. I think that can be difficult. For feeling I think you just get better at reading yourself with practice and age. For priorities I seem to have a fairly good idea what I care about having defined a lot of goals for myself. David Allen has advice on this stuff in his books.