subdividing @computer

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Jen, Sep 25, 2017.

  1. Jen

    Jen Registered

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    I'd like to pick your brains on how to subdivide my @computer work list. It is by far my least favorite list to look at and doesnt really help me mange what to work on next as I've got quite varied projects on it. (I have @email as a separate list).

    I'm thinking about trying out @computer-thinking and @computer-quick. I'm working my active projects on paper as I wasn't engaging well with digital systems and quite frankly want to be able to spend less time on the computer. The disadvantage with paper is not being able to filter lists though.

    What are your computer related contexts?
     
  2. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    I’ve used @computer, and sometimes subdivided it subcategories like @email and @computer-easy. Frankly, these efforts decreased my productivity. They slowed down processing on the front end, and fostered avoidance on the back end. I have found that by having a broad choice of actions, I tend to alternate: handle some email, check with staff member on issue, do some writing, et cetera, in a way that tends to balance better. I only have a few real contexts: anywhere, home, work, errands. I know some people do very well with fine-grained contexts, but apparently I’m not one of them. I will say that I'm very digital at this point, which may play a role.
     
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  3. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I've found that the energy and brain power required to switch between software packages or required hardware is far more than switching between projects so my @ Computer list is very finely divided. I have 17 different @computer type contexts at the moment:

    @LambTracker
    @Misc Mac Work
    @Omnifocus
    @LibreOffice
    @Scrivener
    @DEVONThink
    @Banktivity
    @Grassroots
    @QuickBooks
    @LightRoom & Photosho]p
    @Silhouette Studio
    @MacBook
    @iMac
    @iPad
    @iPhone
    @Firefox
    @Computer Internet​

    My system is pretty much entirely digital. I also like large and long lists of choices and keep in active projects anything I think I could work on in the current 3 month season.
     
  4. AnneMKE

    AnneMKE Registered

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    I'm very interested in this thread. For awhile I was using @Computer_Focused and @Computer_Quick, but I found myself avoiding the Focused tasks of course. My @Agenda lists work great because I have regular calendared meetings with each person, so right now I'm experimenting with treating the @Computer contexts as batches and calendaring times to work from those same batches: @Work_Batch, @Personal_Batch, and @Deadline/Response_Batch. It's not there yet, though; the deadline/response batch is crowding out the others. I'm listening again to Making It All Work this week and I'm convinced again that contexts are helpful, but I've struggled with this through my many years of GTD.
     
  5. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    The mega-long @computer list; a classic we hadn't have for a while. As a "geek" myself this used to be a problem for me, too. Here's what I do:

    1. With the bigger projects usually there are deadlines involved, deadlines that represent agreements with other people. More often than not this means I'll have to work every day or nearly every day on those. This in turn means most of the time the impulse to work on them stems from reviewing the calendar, the tickler or the projects list where theses stand out. This means, when I arrive at the @computer list, the "big rock" items are already dealt with or at least I have risen higher awareness of them. It also shortens the @computer list itself.
    2. I use pen and paper, I highlight specific next actions to make sure I do review them every day, which is not the same as doing them. Thus I increase my ease with the fact that on some days I don't even find the time to work much on the list or just very sparsely. (If you are strict, it is a cheap way to enter day specific information into the calendar. One of the three things that are entered into the calendar with the classic GTD way.)
    3. Since I use pen and paper, the newer next action reminders are at the bottom of the list; the list is sorted by age of entry. This means, the more active, fast-paced projects tend to have their next actions near the end of the list, the slower "geekier" ones at the beginning. Which acts quite fine for a general orientation and is all I need to strive in a way much similar to what mcogilvie described in his post.

    I also find it important to weed out impossible expectations. If your average an hour of discretionary time for @computer work, then you will hardly clear a list of dozens of items per week.

    OTOH, if the vast majority of your working time consists of discretionary time @computer a more general reflection of what an ideal work day may consist of is in order. The problem is probably not one of merely having all relevant reminders in place. What are the principles that guide your daily work? Hint: they probably won't be found in a mere sorting scheme for your @computer list.
     
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  6. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Cpu_Modern has a lot of good advice, but this most of all. Know thyself is the great hidden commandment of GTD and the key that unlocks all doors.
     
  7. Jen

    Jen Registered

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    Gosh, lots of really interesting things to think about. I think I might try to take a long hard look at the list and work out why it's giving me such trouble.

    I can perhaps think of some elements of the work that might benefit from software specific contexts, @Photoshop comes to mind. @internet might also have some value.

    I do think cpu_modern has a good point about understanding what I'm trying to achieve though. "What are the principles that guide your daily work?" Deep thinking indeed! I've been in crisis management for the better part of a year, teetering dangerously close to burn out, so understanding how to truly work out my priorities so long running projects don't just disappear under the weight of the flow of 'urgent' things is a real challenge.

    GTD is hopefully the cavalry.
     
  8. patrickkamin

    patrickkamin Registered

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    In my own experience thinking that dividing your context into smaller buckets might help is just an illusion if the real problem is that new urgent tasks come in faster than you can handle those. Especially contexts like "thinking" tend to be container to procrastinate on if you are not mindful about this how to get these done ( e.g. block time in calendar, brainstorm with team member, etc ).

    If you listen to the GTD Podcasts you hear the coaches talk a lot about three-fold nature of work. At first I didn't get the point how to apply this during my day, but I think at least when you start of with GTD, taking this into account during your Weekly Review gives you really perspective on how the ratio of planned work vs urgent fire fighting tasks has been for the last week if you take the time to look into this.

    I think this is where GTD really shines because now such in-balance of the three-fold nature of work can become a project of yours where you either talk to your manager, team or yourself when you run your own company to find a better balance for this. E.g. have your manager delegate work, hire a new person, ask team members for help, hire an employee or quit your job.
     
  9. Jen

    Jen Registered

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    I think it might help a bit though. I struggle with too long a list, but don't really want to shift to much back to s/m as all these things do need to run in parallel even if at a snails pace. There is the advantage of providing a bit more clarity with the task too without having to read it over.

    I do take your point about the balance of work inputs though.

    Just to give a little background, I work in a museum and in a department of 7, 2 posts have been unfilled for over a year, including head of department (pending contract revisions) and 2 people have alternated being out long term sick. We're back up to 5 now so I've had the breathing space to think about all the projects that have just been abandoned. I'm hoping with gtd I can pull some of them back, but also just have a better understanding of what we aren't doing to take to senior management.
     
  10. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    I could be totally off here…
    The @ context lists are meant to be ASAP (as soon as possible) lists. This means as fast as possible.

    But if you want to advance many projects slower than possible, possibly to accommodate for nuances particular to your industry, then the next actions may not be at the right place on you @ context lists.

    If for example you want to wait a bit, say a week, with a response to not appear irritating (or imitating), then consider the "tickler file." Re-tickle the next action reminder to send the response to next week.

    The tickler file is super fine for this type of organisation, because it allows for "fuzzy" re-scheduling. You can postpone for next month and at the beginning of next month you can re-schedule for somewhere in the middle of the month, or whenever is suitable, and the have a look at it again.

    I don't get what you mean by that. Can you clarify this for me, please?
     
  11. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    The biggest advantage of such a fine division of @Computer for me is exactly the issue of more clarity without re-reading tasks. When @computer items are a mish mash of programs to work in I see a huge list of items and am paralyzed with indecision. When I say I can handle Word Processing now and pull up my @LibreOffice lists I see a subset of things, some longer, some shorter, some in between, that I can really focus on. Plus there is the added benefit that often in the time I can work I can manage to clear out a whole list so I do have many more projects that are making slow but steady progress.
     
  12. Cpu_Modern

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    I agree with you, the sheer size of a list can be the source of paralysis. However, I am not so sure if dividing it by app is a good fit for everyone. It seems to me, that it works well, were the different apps and brain spaces, to use a term that kelstarrising brough to my attention yesterday, overlap relatively seamlessly.

    If you think of Photoshop as also "the brain space were I see myself as a designer", then @photoshop can be a very meaningful signal. I even would go a step further and say that a given activity, writing, photoshopping, coding, etc is a good decision point. Ie., do I have the brains for writing at this moment?

    But there is also this phenomenon that we seem to create the necessary energy, when we start to work on a task.

    However, there is also the case when brain space and app do not match so evenly. For instance, I do write a lot, so when I can write, I may decide to do so, but only after I decided which writing project to advance, it becomes clear which app to use. Sometimes I write in plain text (Markdown, LaTex, etc), sometimes I write styled text - and naturally I use different apps for that. The thing is, the decision which app gets to be used is far removed from the decision which writing task is best served now.

    So, if a specific app is also a mental context (brain space)? Then it is probably a good @ context as well.

    The thing is, in the end it is probably still one true context, namely @computer, but you found out that by dividing this context list by additional parameters, you are helping yourself to, well, getting things done.

    I have! Like I wrote above, my @computer list is strictly sorted by age of entry, not merely by @computer, and it helps.
     
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  13. Longstreet

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    This is excellent! And this mindset is why I do not use the standard contexts like @computer anymore. To me the "type" of work is a much better trigger. So I have a context called @writing. ANd with Nirvana, I can separate my @ writing list by energy and how much time I have to dedicate. The only "traditional" contexts I have kep are errands, calls, and home tasks.
     
  14. Jen

    Jen Registered

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    It's not that I want to move them slowly, this just is the asap pace.

    I was wondering though, from how you described your system, do you produce a completely new na list every weekly review?

    I think contexts are really interesting. There are def some I have that work very much as a trigger to do several things in a more efficient way, e.g. @basement for everything I need to do in the basement which is the other side of the building, so much better if I do several things at once.
    @computer doesn't work like this. It's almost always readily available. Some bits would separate well by software like oogiem, still working on an efficiency basis. Other stuff is more difficult, often writing or research based stuff that needs some information that is held on the computer. Here's where the thought/energy level feels like a good fit. I think I'll have to trial it and see. It could still be though that I'm keeping too much on the active list though.
     
  15. AnneMKE

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    A recent insight that might be helpful: as I've been watching this thread, I've also done back-to-back weekly reviews and kept up on month/week/day planning and time blocking. It's becoming clear that the better my weekly reviews and time blocking, the less I need to rely on contexts to shape the order in which I do things and the urgency I bring to them, and the less frustrated I am with my long contexts lists.

    I think I've been asking contexts to do a job they can't realistically do alone. I need both a full inventory (GTD, including contexts lists) and also a flexible plan for the month, week, and day, knowing that the plan may be upended but until it is, it can guide my work in a way that makes me feel confident I'm doing the right things.
     
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