Context, friction to clarify and Time Blocking

alevici

Registered
Hello everyone,
since i started using GTD for my work organization I encountered a friction when i was called to assign context and clarify. When I'm not visiting customer I sit in my office in front of my computer and 95% of my work related task imply with computer use. So 60/70% of task got piled in the same list and I was not really using context at all to organize my work. I tried using few contex, many context and fancy context but i always fin iced doing task using my memory and this way I was late with important task from time time.
My boss (the best boss you could ever have) is using Time Blocking since I know him and he is really impressive: he manages up tp 15 projects and wears few vice-president hats and never miss a task or a deadline or simply forgot to give feedback for anything regardless the way it have been as originally comunicated (e-mail, calls, teams, chat or meetings..).
So I was giving look at some material he gave me but I could not get the usefulness to fill your day with uncertain lasting task calendar events.
Then I realized what my boss does: he uses time blocks as context and during the reserved time he works only on certain task that fit in the "context" forcing himself to divided the time in front of the computer in specific scope oriented blocks.
So i did a few changes in my GTD system using the activities done in front of the computer as context:
@project (time reserved in 2 slots every day) reserved to work on projects task
@e-mail and teams (time reserved in 3 slot every day to read messages and replying)
@hands-on (time reserved 2 times for week to work testing and practicing with new functionalities of our product that's a software)
@tecnical (time reserved once for week to read and watch internal technical documentation)
@free task (time reserved once everyday to complete 5 min task like home-banking, buying online stuff, and other important task both for work and for private life)
@calls (time reserved 2 times each day to make calls)
@relax (time reserved in 2 small blacks and a longer one) to fit chats with colleagues, a good coffee and my daily workouts and social media

So every week I assign to deep work blocks specific context (@project, @hands on and @tecnical) to distribute according to deadlines and workload and day out of the office. This way i still use the GTD approach to choose task but I reserve specific time to to complete task that often were delayed to much

Any suggestion opinion or experience with time blocking is welcome!
 

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ivanjay205

Registered
That is very interesting. I have a very similar struggle....... I am a COO of my company but we are a small to midsize business. 36 employees. I oversee our business development team, HR, IT, corporate finance/accounting, etc. I basically run the business day to day entirely as the owner is getting close to semi retiring and becoming "chairmen" and officially handing over the reigns to me. But at this point I oversee 95% of the business.

I set up areas of focus for me with each discipline and in my head I aimed to work on each area of focus on different days. Monday HR, Tuesday IT, etc. just to keep my head on straight. But that never works out well. This idea of time blocking it with 2 hours of working time every day per discipline sounds very intriguing and I might try it. Otherwise my team fills my entire day with calendar items every day pretty much
 

GTDengineer

Registered
I’ve never used time blocking before, and I thought that the practice was against GTD principles. But lately with the work from home situation there are more meetings planned on my calendar than ever before. Last week I had two days where back to back meetings totaled 7hrs of my work day. Almost every day has minimum 4hrs of meetings when I start the week, and more are planned last minute as the week goes on. I don’t know if David Allen foresaw that problem. Now I am thinking of using time blocking just to make sure I have some time left for solo work.
 

FocusGuy

Registered
Thanks for this topic and sharing !

I pratice GTD since over 10 years and like you I work a lot at my office in front of my computer. Everythings works well with me and GTD except context. I use Omnifocus 3 and Things 3.

I tried classical contexts (@Tel; #Mac...) coming from my tags on these software and doing them when I could. Sadly I never advanced in my work.

The only thing wich helped me really about doing stuff is time blocking by similar grouped task as your boss does I plan per day on my bullet journal or on my Mac calendar.

There are 2 kinds of TB for me. What is relative to a project (I am in corporate real estate so I do all hat is relative to a building or a client at a batch and what is "context TB " I mean by that all relative tasks to an habit or a GTD context calls, emails I try to do at a batch at the right time.

Each Time I tried doing contexts separatly from TB it simply doesnt work. So I prepare lists about Time block and do them one by one.

It works quit well.
 
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TesTeq

Registered
But lately with the work from home situation there are more meetings planned on my calendar than ever before. Last week I had two days where back to back meetings totaled 7hrs of my work day. Almost every day has minimum 4hrs of meetings when I start the week, and more are planned last minute as the week goes on. I don’t know if David Allen foresaw that problem.
I'm afraid that your company is doing "the work from home" wrong. There is no reason to increase the number of meetings. A good teamwork task management system (like Nozbe Teams) makes meetings optional. It has nothing to do with GTD or David Allen.
 

GTDengineer

Registered
Working at an engineering company in the Midwest, I sometimes feel like a digital dinosaur. MS teams is currently in a limited release for self designated “early adopters”! I’m afraid there is nothing outside of the MS 365 portfolio on the horizon.
 

Longstreet

Professor of microbiology and infectious diseases
I’ve never used time blocking before, and I thought that the practice was against GTD principles. But lately with the work from home situation there are more meetings planned on my calendar than ever before. Last week I had two days where back to back meetings totaled 7hrs of my work day. Almost every day has minimum 4hrs of meetings when I start the week, and more are planned last minute as the week goes on. I don’t know if David Allen foresaw that problem. Now I am thinking of using time blocking just to make sure I have some time left for solo work.
I am a champion of time blocking as many people will attest to. In my environment, if I do not block time for different activities, particularly deep work, it won't happen as meetings magically appear on my calendar like a tidal wave. Time blocking is absolutely okay within a GTD practice. On a thread about time blocking some time ago, David Allen himself answered about using time blocking: "Hey folks, if you've ever committed to a meeting on your calendar, you've already acknowledged the value of a time block for some resulting outcome. Time blocking with yourself is simply recognizing that you have an inner committee that needs corralling, in the same way, for the same kind of outcome. Block away!"
 

billjw

Registered
Time blocking is absolutely okay
I would have thought so too. Particularly with things like "contexts", I know I'm probably using that "wrong" but if I have a context of calls, I may use that time for calls until I am through them all or completed enough of them. Taking 30 mins for calls, errands etc is a type of time blocking and quite efficient I would think.
I used to do this way back in the pre-tech days with my Quo Vadis Tri Note week to an opening diary. I loved blocking time in my day to do specific things. Though there was no email back then to "ping" me! (all email notifications are now off!)
 
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