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Listing day- or week-specific actions when you have a lot?

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  • Listing day- or week-specific actions when you have a lot?

    Maybe because I have more deadlines now, I am finding that many of my next actions need to be done by specific days, sometimes as many as 20 discrete tasks that are distributed between 5 or 6 contexts. Since I am trying to eliminate the "prioritized to do list" habit (which was often an "ignore it until a crisis hits" list), I am not sure how to handle these long lists of things to do. My calender pages are too small for a long list and sometimes they have to moved forward for a variety of reasons, such as got stuck in traffic, a machine wasn't working, it took longer than expected or once I started the action I realized that I need additional materials or they all might get bumped due to a crisis. Also, sometimes a day-specific action creates the need to be in a context that can enable me to get through a lot of next-actions that are not due on that day but by doing them then, I save time in the future even if they are not a priority--but this requires that I make sure that I do not have something with a dealine that reqauires being in another context.

  • #2


    (This is my personal interpretation of the Priority question.)
    In the Processing phase, you do assign priorities - Calendar, Action List or Someday/Maybe. A Calendar item has a higher priority than an Action List item. If you have available time to can tack on a context-related Action List item to a Calendar item, that's great. But if you have other Calendar items that fill your day, they come first. A Calendar item that gets stalled goes back in the pot for Processing, which you will probably want to do without delay.

    Bottom line: Contexts aid in creating efficiency in the day, either in the planning of the day or as fill-in when time becomes available, but it does not override the previously-set priorities (Calendar vs ASAP).

    The biggest problem I have encountered is not using the Calendar enough and then being faced with a whole slew of Action Items with no distinguishing priority. That just means having to go back to Processing after you have already "Organized". I prefer to preserve the integrity of the Calendar vs ASAP distinction by creating a separate Daily Plan/Schedule, using Contexts to help me to shape a sensible day.



    • #3
      Could you elaborate on your sensible daily plan based on contexts?



      • #4
        Planning with Contexts

        In my view, categorization is simply the grouping of items with common characteristics. Contexts categorize by "Resource", i.e., places, tools, people, etc. I use Contexts in 2 ways:

        1. Reactively - if I am in a place or have a tool or person available and I have some time and energy/interest and it is of sufficient priority, I can zero in on a particular list of items that become Doable in the Context I am in and pick something off. But I never prioritize a "convenient" item ahead of an Urgent/Important items that might require a different Context.

        2. Proactively - I can plan my schedule for efficiency by using the Context lists to combine items that can logically be Done together. If my day isn't filled with appointments, I can create my own appointments with @Car or @Online, etc. and structure my day.

        Since on most days, I have few appointments and a lot of control over my Calendar, I use Contexts for daily planning more than for Doing "in the moment".