With things I agree. It is more complicated. As every next action is shown into a project title, It is difficult to avoid projects. This is the reason why, The first setting explained in the DAC Setting of things (I recommand) was to use project as context to get a real list of very next action and tags as project name for finding the relative next action. You could also have 2 separate places into the project fields on about context on about projects you are currently working on.After doing GTD on and off for many years I’ve finally come to the conclusion, that at least for me, the biggest barrier to using contexts is task management apps, they’re not simple enough (too much metadata per task) and they link actions to projects so even when you’re looking at a context list there’s something on the screen telling you what project it belongs to which I’ve realised makes my brain want to think about stuff from the project perspective instead. David Allen suggests looking at the project list as little as once per week, with most task management apps (OF, Things etc) that’s basically impossible as it sits there continuously telling you about projects which for me is cognitive overhead.
They could be grouped in Areas example
Or as DAC explained : Only on project list and use notes or check list for others next action or projects plans.
Here is my setting (witch is the same than Omnifocus except for the context area (apart))
But with Omnifocus it is easy !
You can make a "perspective" with only shows the very next action and nothing else.
You will see each classical context eg @Call, @MAC on the left and have a long list of very next action without any thing on the right
For updating your next action you can use the focus function and add it immediately. use the drawer to put the relative project and hide it immediately.
You can also uncheck the tool bar every perspective you dont want to see it permanently.
If during the day or so you need to work on the project, just focus again and work on the next steps.
So you can get both of the best world.
Others systems can be put in place :
1) Use a text editor and have a list of project and a list of very next action cross it as you do it.
Except paper it is the simplest system.
2) Use task paper and context's tag or not. It is fast, efficient and elegant.
You can also use Obsidian and do the same. You will get an holistic system but it is more complex. The learning curve of obsidian is quiet "touchy"
I wont convince any one about the advantage of a good technology. Today it makes things easier and faster if you use it right.