A question on contexts that don't just occur by themselves, such as certain errands.

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Lagerbaer, Nov 19, 2018.

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  1. Lagerbaer

    Lagerbaer Registered

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    Maybe easiest to explain with an example.

    I've got a watch that needs a repair. Okay, so next action is to take it to the store. Context is "@errands". But my "natural" errands take me to the grocery store, not the watch store. So unless I make a specific effort to go out to the watch store, it won't happen.

    On the other hand, it's not something that must happen at a specific time, so I'm not sure if I'm supposed to schedule it in my calendar, because the message I got from the GTD book was that we should be quite strict about what deserves a spot in the calendar, i.e., things that absolutely must happen on the specific date.
     
  2. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    Do you have your lists (or some of them) with you when you go to the grocery store? If so, you could just put it on the list as if it's a grocery item, and when you're done checking off the groceries, you have that "Oh, yeah," moment as you're just about to check out and take the groceries to the car.

    And I just realized--the problem is, I'm guessing, that when you're already out and about and buying groceries you don't have the watch with you? If the watch isn't too precious, maybe you could just store it in the glove compartment so that when the right "Oh, yeah" moment comes up you can drive right to the jeweler's.

    Now, you said this was just an example, and I gave a very specific solution. One possible more general solution could be a "Leaving for Errands" list that you check on your way out. That reminds you to grab the watch, and the food you collected for the food pantry, and the shoes that you want to return. And then a "non-grocery errands" list that you consult when you're out. Or, of course, you could combine the two lists, and check "non-grocery errands" every time you leave the house AND every time you're headed for the grocery Out door.
     
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  3. Geeko

    Geeko GTD since 2017

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    Maybe you have to split your lists for @errands. If the jeweller maybe is in another town you could create lists for errands in that town. I use errands lists for the different store I go to. So I know that I have not forgotten anything when I check out.
    Maybe it would also help to put that watch in your outbox so you won’t forget to pick it up before you leave.

    Cheers,
    Tristan
     
  4. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    You have to look at your errands list regularly and decide. You could say: next time I’m going nearby I will drop it off, or I will make a special trip, or do it when you feel so moved. You can capture such a decision by writing a next action: “drop off watch when in area” or “make trip to watch store when bored” or whatever. But it’s ok for “take watch for repairs” to not get done. Your list of next actions is a menu of possibilities, as long as you understand the risks and rewards of doing versus not doing. Maybe you will decide at some point to move watch repair to Someday/Maybe or even throw the watch away.
     
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  5. Lagerbaer

    Lagerbaer Registered

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    Thank you for your comments and suggestions.

    I think ultimately my issue is one of reactive vs proactive contexts. The suggestion to "Make trip to watch store when bored" is actually a good point: The context "@near_watch_store" will never happen on its own, but "@bored_at_work" or even "@work_lunchtime" totally does, and can then serve as the trigger to go out to the store and make it happen.
     
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  6. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Yes, exactly. It’s all about where and when you want to be reminded of the option.
     
  7. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I don't use an @errands context, I have a single action list called Errands for one off things. Most errands would be a separate project for me. My contexts are the towns where the things have to happen. In my specific instance the action "Take watch to repair shop" in the "Fix watch" project would be in the context @Paonia & Hotchkiss (local towns) if there was a place to repair them here. Since there isnt it would actually be in the context @Delta and GJ, towns that are respectively 40 and 75 miles away that we get to once a month. I review everytign in those contexts when we hacv a trip planned to be sure I get everythign done there I can.
     
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  8. vaughan76

    vaughan76 Registered

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    This is the kind of thing I do. I don’t use a specific errands context but rather include the errand in the context nearest the errand and just do it when I’m in that related context.
     
  9. clango

    clango Registered

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    I think this is the answer. We need to trust our system and we should consult it as the map to look for the treasure.
     
  10. Jared Caron

    Jared Caron Registered

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    Great suggestions all around. One simple strategy I use is to just list the location where the errand happens as the first word in my list item. For instance - "CVS - pick up prescription". That way when i review my errands list (which i sort alphabetically in my list manager) all my items are grouped by location. Then I can simply decide which to do based on the geography of my trip or importance of the errand. I think you could really go hog wild with the contexts thing if you're not careful. It all depends on what you're going to review regularly. If you create a list and find you never look at it, it's time to revisit that list and think about recategorizing.
     
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  11. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    1. I don't understand what "natural" errands mean? For me "errands" means all the actions that require travelling through the city. I always try to optimize the distance travelled and time used. I also decide if I have to use a car or not.
    2. You wrote that going to the watch store requires "a specific effort". Is this effort greater than buying groceries? Groceries are usually heavier than watches... ;)
     
  12. Lagerbaer

    Lagerbaer Registered

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    My situation is kinda the opposite of Oogiem. For me, the grocery store is within walking distance of where I live. I can just pop out and be there in 5 minutes. The specific watch store, on the other hand, is a bit further out, and other specialty stores would be further out still. So "I'm going grocery shopping" isn't a good situation to be reminded of "Oh yeah and the watch needs repairing". It's something that needs a special trip.
     
  13. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    Maybe a "special trip errands" context?
     
  14. Lagerbaer

    Lagerbaer Registered

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    Well yes. But then we're back at my original question: It's not a context that I just happen to find myself in.
     
  15. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    In my mind, this is becoming a larger question: How do you design your system/contexts to "tell" you to enter a context?

    I think that your earlier thought of scheduling it might make sense--you could treat it as a meeting. Sure, it's not mandatory that you do it Tuesday instead of Thursday or next week, but at least for me, that's also true of a lot of meetings. And it's often been discussed here that it may be necessary to schedule a lot of "important but not urgent" things.

    So you could, for example, schedule two hours every fourth Saturday for special errands.
     
  16. aderoy

    aderoy Registered

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    Would area of city i.e.
    • eastside = footwear, coats (mall etc)
    • westside = watch/jewel
    • south = Applestore, Costco
    These list would be in your weekly review and once the magic threshold of items to make it worth the trip decide / plan on being in the location/area.
    Myself I add to the list and once there is what I deemed enough to make it worth the time then visit before next review.
    ymmv
     
  17. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I figure it out on the fly when I review all my active lists and contexts each morning when drinking coffee. It's fast easy and positions me to do things the rest of the day.
     
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  18. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    @Lagerbaer, when you refer to contexts that occur "naturally" or those that are "proactive" vs. "reactive," I think what you're talking about is the difference between things you do on cruise control (i.e. things you do habitually) and those things you have to think about. GTD is all about helping you manage those things that aren't on cruise control so you're not keeping them in your head.

    You're obviously in the habit of going for groceries. You haven't needed an external reminder other than a list of the items you need to buy; it's just something you're used to doing. Getting a watch repaired falls outside of your normal routine.

    Simply put, you need to learn to trust your trusted system and refer to it when you're in a position to run errands. First, you'll want to make sure the entire system is as complete and current as possible in all respects -- not just your errands list -- so you'll be motivated to use it.

    If that's already the case, then you need to get in the habit of checking your errands list. I'd suggest something as simple as a piece of paper taped to the door you use to enter/exit your residence, and/or one taped to the dashboard of your car reminding you to check your errands list.

    If it makes you feel any better, checking my errands context was one of the GTD habits that took me the longest to get the hang of.
     
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  19. ellobogrande

    ellobogrande Registered

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    I would definitely put "Take watch to jeweler" on my @Errands list, but I might also set a location-based reminder using Google Keep or Samsung Reminders that would trigger a notification on my phone when I'm in the vicinity of the errand location. I don't do this often as I look at my lists regularly enough to trigger the reminders. I also check it when I complete an errand just to see if there's something else I can knock off nearby.

    This is a little off-topic but I've moved my @Agendas list from Google Tasks to Google Keep once I learned that I can set location-specific reminders on Note objects in Keep. Each key person in my life has a Note object in Keep. I often set a location-based reminder on each object. I often forget to look at these lists when I'm around people i need to talk to; this helps me tremendously.
     
  20. Lagerbaer

    Lagerbaer Registered

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    But in my case, it's not like I'm constantly walking around with that watch. What worked for me was adding it to a context #work-lunch, because that's when I'd have the time to go do the thing.

    I understand many of you set aside a specific day to do all the stuff on your @errands list, but for me that's rarely how I do things.
     

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