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Working in Context feels unnatural !!

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  • Working in Context feels unnatural !!

    Hi Guys,

    I having real difficulty working in Context and I would like to know how others work this way? Do people tend to work in Context all of the time or do you switch between working in Context then focus on a specific projects?

    I am using MyLife Organised (MLO) so if I work in Context then I may see multiple tasks for multiple projects that need doing in that Context. If a task is a Single Step Action that feels ok to perform, but Project tasks seem a whole lot different. It doesn't feel natural to complete Project Next Actions in this way, working on a Project to me requires focus. I understand you can only do the Next Action associated with a Project, and I have 'Complete Subtasks in Order' set within MLO so I do only see the next Actions. But it kind of feels odd to work on a Project this way.

    Have I misunderstood something here?

    It may be just a case of I need to adjust to this new way of working but it certainly doesn't feel right at the moment, in fact it does feel very unnatural to work on a Project in this way.

    I would like to know how others work especially on Projects.

    All the best


  • #2
    If you don't like working in contexts, then don't.

    Remember that contexts are a tool to help you decide what you *can* work on, not to restrict what you are *allowed* to work on. If you are sitting in the doctor's waiting room with your phone and a few spare minutes, it's a waste of effort to even look at tasks requiring your computer or your office files. (And remember that DA himself is in this kind of highly restricted context much of the time, due to the amount of traveling he does.) If you're in the office with all your resources available, it may make a lot of sense to concentrate on a project for a long period of time.

    I find the context listing helpful, since it tends to group tasks requring similar amounts of effort. But I often ignore the context list, or even the entire NA list. Sometimes it makes sense for me to make a whole bunch of short phone calls for several different projects. Sometimes it makes sense to focus on a project until it is done (or a milestone has been reached).



    • #3
      Originally posted by Steve Wynn
      I would like to know how others work especially on Projects.
      I categorize tasks to cut my lists down to current items that can or should be done in the moment. That include the current step(s) for all projects. It assures me that I'm not missing something that should be done "while I'm here at this time". Once Ive gone down the list, I will usually go to a list of project-related actions and work down the list, often until I either run out of time or out of items that fit the current situaiton.

      Tom S.


      • #4
        Context vs. Focus

        I work both ways. Contexts give us the ability to determine what we can do in those odd moments that pop up in order to improve our productivity. I may have several actions related to a project that would need to be done in multiple contexts. For example my project plan may look like this:

        R&D Project History, Objectives & Support Materials @Office (1/2 hr)
        Call Project Sponsor re: objectives Someday/@Calls (1/4 hr)
        Outline Project Deliverable Someday/@Anywhere (1/2 hr)
        Draft Project Deliverable Someday/@Computer (1 1/2 hr)
        Send draft to sponsor for review Someday/@Networked (1/4 hr)

        I can handle this in a couple of ways, depending upon how I thought about it during my weekly review.

        1. If it's a time sensative project, and I plan on spending most of the time in the office this week then I might block out three hours on Monday on my calendar (Hard landscape) in order to work on this project. If that's the case, I'm likely to get through the much of the list above perhaps even to the point of getting the draft sent out to the sponsor for review.

        2. If it's not as time sensative, or if I know I'll only be in the office on Monday until 4:00 when I head to the airport, then I'll likely do something like the following:

        I'd block a half hour on my calendar monday morning in the office for the first task and make sure I had what I needed to take with me on the road. I might also fire off an e-mail to the project sponsor to let him know that I'd like to call a little after 4:00 on Monday to clarify objectives. I'd call on the drive to the airport, and likley have the discussion while waiting for the plane to board (@Calls). Once in my seat I'd be outlining the deliverable until the flight attendant announces the digital blackout between door closing and wheels up is over (@Anywhere). As long as I'm not between sumo wrestlers in a middle seat in coach, I can at least start drafting the document on my palm using my expandable keyboard or my laptop if I have a little more room.(@Computer). Depending upon the length of my flight I can either fire off the e-mail via VPN from the admirals club between connections or when I get to my hotel (@Networked).

        The key is that I'm using contexts to protect the discretionary time that I have available in the office which is my most productive context, and also the most constrained.

        You don't have to travel to utilize contexts. @Calls could be made during your commute. @Anywhere while waiting at a Dr.'s office, and @Computer anywhere you can bring your laptop or your palm and keyboard. @Networked anywhere you can find a wireless connection.

        Sometimes the project is important enough that you need the focus of a dedicated piece of hard landscape to get it completed. Sometimes its not and you need to work it in wherever you can.


        • #5
          Thanks for the help

          Thanks for the replies guys, you have cleared things up for me.

          I thought I was missing something and for some reason I was trying to adopt a system of working solely in Context rather than working as I normally do in a Project focused manner. As I mentioned before this just didn't feel right. I see that I was not viewing Contexts in the right manner at all. From your replies I now understand how I can utilise them to benefit the way I work, instead of working against me

          Many thanks for your help



          • #6
            I relate, Steve. The day I woke up and realized that I could toss Contexts and just use GTD the way my life is, was the day my productivity started skyrocketing. My "contexts" are Projects. I think in terms of Projects. Whether I'm driving in my car, downtown, or in my home office. This can't work for everyone, but for certain lifestyles—like being self-employed, it can be the best way to go.

            With the exception of "Stuff to get/do while downtown" and "House Maintenance", every other of my to-do falls into Projects that can be pretty much be done in an context. The main trick to doing GTD this way is that you need to daily review all the Projects, and decide which projects you can move forward.

            Great ideas from the other posters, too.



            • #7
              Remember also that, as someone else put it so brilliantly, a Next Action is just a bookmark for your status in a Project. It doesn't mean that, once you complete one Next Action in a Project, you must move on to another Next Action in another Project in that Context. You can move forward with that Project for hours at a time.