Replacing the idea of Tool Based Contexts with Areas of Focus?

FocusGuy

Registered
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.
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.
They could be grouped in Areas example

AREA :
@Call
@ Mac
@Home

PROJECTS
Project X
Project Y
Project Z

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))

Capture d’écran 2023-12-31 à 17.55.07.png


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.
 

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jaybee9

Registered
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.
They could be grouped in Areas example

AREA :
@Call
@ Mac
@Home

PROJECTS
Project X
Project Y
Project Z

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))

View attachment 1629


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.
Yeah you can set up Things differently and that’s an improvement (or you can also use Shortcuts to give you a list of actions with no mention of the project, even when putting actions in projects) and with OF perspectives you can hide the project to some degree but in both cases they’re still very close by and for me personally I find it too much of a temptation and end up looking at the projects which basically distracts me to the point where it can negatively affect what I’m doing (or trying to do). Similarly I end up using notes, start/defer dates etc and managing the system eventually becomes a chore.

So I’ve found splitting actions and projects completely works much better for me and not having the ability to set metadata on actions removes the temptation to do so and reduces the number of decisions I’m making a day which means I’m feeling fresher later in the day. The system is that simple/basic that I have little opportunity to fiddle with it as opposed to doing some actual work.

Of course I’ve no doubt some people are perfectly happy with Things, OF, Todoist etc… just after many years of trial and error I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, they end up causing me more overhead than they’re worth.
 

Lucas W.

Registered
My impression is that all of those problems come from overflowing the lists with too many next actions and active projects – so messing about the contexts and new setups won’t be a real solution in a long run.

The most general tip I could give for the "contexts" is to keep a few and keep them far from each other.
 

FocusGuy

Registered
@jaybee9
Yeah you can set up Things differently and that’s an improvement (or you can also use Shortcuts to give you a list of actions with no mention of the project, even when putting actions in projects)

I wonder how you make it with things please show me a picture and the way to do it. Thanks

I understand the spliting of lists. I did it myself with word and also with 2 sheets of paper. So gtd can also be set in a very simple way
 

FocusGuy

Registered
My impression is that all of those problems come from overflowing the lists with too many next actions and active projects – so messing about the contexts and new setups won’t be a real solution in a long run.

The most general tip I could give for the "contexts" is to keep a few and keep them far from each other.
I totally agree. It is for me one of the missing part of gtd. I discovered ZTD he advocates for planification and cleaning stuff. Tiago forte is also very interesting in his approach.
Lot of trouble happens by overflowing or overcomplicating things. Computer has a real bad indirect effect. You can store anything, so, at a certain point, without any control and uncleaning stuff it may becomes un manageable !

Getting back to the most simple solution such as 2 simple sheets, can help to get back on the wagon.
 
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jaybee9

Registered
@jaybee9
Yeah you can set up Things differently and that’s an improvement (or you can also use Shortcuts to give you a list of actions with no mention of the project, even when putting actions in projects)

I wonder how you make it with things please show me a picture and the way to do it. Thanks

I understand the spliting of lists. I did it myself with word and also with 2 sheets of paper. So gtd can also be set in a very simple way
Sorry just double checked this and it will still list the project but the actions won’t be grouped by them which for me is a plus. If you have a tag/context of home then if you just list those actions you’ll see them grouped by project but using Shortcuts you can do a search for actions tagged home and you’ll get a unified list with the project name listed for each action
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