Context for actions that can be done either on phone or computer?

Daniel Westergren

Registered
Hi there,

I use the usual default contexts of @computer, @phone, @home and @errand. So far it works quite well. But I have a lot of actions that can be done EITHER on a smart phone OR a computer. Rather than tagging those with both contexts, how have others handled these actions?

It could be reading something, replying to email, write a chat message, pay an invoice etc.

I also have actions that are only @phone (like phone calls) or only @computer.
 

ivanjay205

Registered
Sorry cant help but just adding phone, computer, and iPad are all struggles for me on context. I can do everything on the computer, 80 percent on an iPad and less on a phone. So I really need to almost nest all three somehow in my brain. Like if I pick phone I can do it in all three contexts. But computer doesnt work the other way.
 

Geeko

GTD since 2017
I had almost the same problem regarding my desktop computer, my notebook and my phone. In the end I decided to go for an @Internet context. Might work for you as well :)

Cheers,
Tristan
 

Oogiem

Registered
Rather than tagging those with both contexts, how have others handled these actions?
Which device am I at my most efficient at handling that request? Then put it in that context. What is the most secure? Put it in that context? What prevents double handling of the item or thing? Make sure you really CAN do the thing on every device.

For example, I could do email on my phone. But much of the email I get requires I look up something that isn't on my phone. So the end result is the message gets read once, nothing happens and I leave it in my inbox until I get back to my main office where the other materials I need to either handle that message (if 2 min or so) or make it an action are located. End result, wasted effort and time. So I ended up removing email from my phone entirely. I no longer even try to do it there as I can't do that task efficiently there.

How hard is it to read an article on your phone? Is the screen size conducive to that? Do you need to make notes or something that you can't do if you use the phone?

Another example: I use my iPad for lots of reading material. I found that efficient because I can carry it with me nearly everywhere I can take the time to read, the screen size is large enough not to strain my eyes and I can make notes on it as well and send them to my main computer. So my electronic reading materials are on my iPad.

I Pay invoices from my main computer because that is the most secure internet connection and I do not want to expose my banking data on wifi or other unsecured systems and I am not willing to make the effort to set up my own private VPN for my mobile devices. Plus, I file the invoices electronically and that is on my main computer because it gets backed up nightly. So I never bother to pay invoices on my phone or tablet. It's wasted effort and I'll have to continue parts of the task later on my main computer even if I solved the security issue.
 

Daniel Westergren

Registered
Thanks for tips! @internet could be one option. And yes, picking the very best context for the particular task is great. Then I may not see everything that I can actually do on the phone, when I'm out and away for example, but the phone is good for whatever I do see.

I suppose I'll have to try and experiment to see what works.
 

David Parker

GTD Connect
I recently removed all Contexts from my OmniFocus system (following an example set by Joe Buhlig in his revised Working With OmniFocus course) and so far I haven’t missed them.

As I’m either at the computer or have my iPhone or iPad with me, there aren’t many occasions when I can’t do whatever action needs doing. I always have paper and pen with me for “analog” capture if it’s inconvenient to use my iPhone or I Pad.

If I needed to log an action to make an actual call, then I’d give it an @Calls context using a tag “on the fly”.

I think many of the original contexts were necessary when David first wrote about GTD as the technology more “separated” then. Most phones could only make and take calls and you needed a computer to do any processing.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
I have a list of things I think I can do on my tablet or phone (now supersized in the modern manner). If I feel the slightest resistance to doing something ther, I move the action to @computer.
 

ivanjay205

Registered
Sounds like in reading all of these comments the general consensus, or at the least the thought I am generating for myself, is just leave it as computer because everything can be done from a computer. Since majority can be done on mobile technology just work through the computer list and choose. Especially with an iPad pro and ipod os 13 the lines are getting very blurred now.
 

John Forrister

GTD Connect
Staff member
Others have given helpful answers, so I'm just adding my angle.

One question is, "Where can I do it?" These days almost anywhere, on any device. For me, two better questions are: "Where do I want to do it?" "Where can I do it better?" Those rule out a lot of things on smartphone and tablet, regardless of their connectivity. I simply think and move more efficiently on a larger screen for some types of work and online environments.

For example, just because I can access something online, does it require much more scrolling on a smaller device? Are relevant keyboard shortcuts available? In those cases I only do it on a smaller screen if it must be done now, because I can do it faster with a keyboard and a bigger screen.

It's always good for me to consider whether I have psychological resistance to doing something in a context, regardless of whether I can do it in that context.
 

Oogiem

Registered
One question is, "Where can I do it?" These days almost anywhere, on any device. For me, two better questions are: "Where do I want to do it?" "Where can I do it better?" Those rule out a lot of things on smartphone and tablet, regardless of their connectivity.
YES!!!!

This is what I was trying to get to but you expressed much more succinctly.

Thank You!
 

Daniel Westergren

Registered
Thanks for input. So now I reply to this on my phone, because that's what I have available right now (haven't switched computer on in the morning yet). But I could just as well have waited to read this and reply when I was at the computer...

Oh well, if life was without challenges there would be no need for a GTD method anyway. :)
 

John Ismyname

Registered
Which device am I at my most efficient at handling that request? Then put it in that context. .
Well said, Oogiem!

This says it all! Most technology related tasks are more efficient for me to do on a computer with a full keyboard than on my cel phone. I break down my context by technologya s follows;
@_home office - my "command centre" my desktop computers and printer and scanner are all subsumed under this.
@_anywhere - as my cel phone is always with me, this is no longer an issue
@_calls - this one is fast becoming obsolete as I my cel phone is now part of the @_anywhere
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Others have given helpful answers, so I'm just adding my angle.

One question is, "Where can I do it?" These days almost anywhere, on any device. For me, two better questions are: "Where do I want to do it?" "Where can I do it better?" Those rule out a lot of things on smartphone and tablet, regardless of their connectivity. I simply think and move more efficiently on a larger screen for some types of work and online environments.

For example, just because I can access something online, does it require much more scrolling on a smaller device? Are relevant keyboard shortcuts available? In those cases I only do it on a smaller screen if it must be done now, because I can do it faster with a keyboard and a bigger screen.

It's always good for me to consider whether I have psychological resistance to doing something in a context, regardless of whether I can do it in that context.
That’s exactly what I was getting at when I explained how I will move items from a tablet/phone context to a computer context if I feel resistance. Thinking about it a little more, reacting to resistance on the back end may or may not be faster than deciding on the front end. I think for me it is probably faster, and it’s certainly more empirical. If you have tablet/phone time available, it may be worth trying too. You have to recognize the resistance and react appropriately, so it’s not for everyone.
 

John Forrister

GTD Connect
Staff member
That’s exactly what I was getting at when I explained how I will move items from a tablet/phone context to a computer context if I feel resistance. Thinking about it a little more, reacting to resistance on the back end may or may not be faster than deciding on the front end. I think for me it is probably faster, and it’s certainly more empirical. If you have tablet/phone time available, it may be worth trying too. You have to recognize the resistance and react appropriately, so it’s not for everyone.
Yes indeed. Resistance is data that tells me something is off. It could be the context, the clarity of the next action, the definition of the outcome, whether the item is aligned with my areas of focus, and so on.
 
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