Why is GTD so often misinterpreted or misunderstood?

fwade

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Choosing a Context - How Is It Done?

In a prior post, I mentioned...
This all makes me wonder where particular spatial contexts come from in the first place, such as @Errands

We often give the example of being out on errands, and using the @Errand context (or tag) as a way to discover what other errands can be completed while we are in the process of completing an intended task. It's one way to take advantage of a physical location - while I'm in the garden, let me take a look at all the tasks tagged with @Gardening.

Contexts and tags can be used in a way that allows us to take advantage of particular physical locations.

However, there's a bigger question - how do you decide when to schedule your gardening or errands in the first place?

I wonder if the (surprise) convenience of using contexts/tags to take advantage of particular locations obscures the more important questions - what's the process of deciding when to leave on errands or walk out of the house into the garden?

For people who aren't time constrained, this probably isn't a problem, but for those who are time starved, it's likely that their busy lives may lead to them forgetting to go do the errands, and never set the time aside to do the gardening.

How do you decide when to enter a particular context / physical location? Or, alternately, how do you decide when to close own down and enter another, like leaving @Office for the day in order to head @Home, for example.

Some would say they make an intuitive choice several times per day... which would work well of you aren't time-starved, maybe. But if you are - I don't see a better way than making a schedule of activity that reflects your priorities and intentions.

Francis
 

fwade

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Folke;111864 said:
What really beats me, though, is why time planners do not make the distinction between "hard" and "soft". One of all the disadvantages I can see with time scheduling is the fact that you cannot see any difference between those tasks that you can juggle as you please (soft; non-GTD) and those that you would need to renegotiate (hard; GTD). The real ones drown among all the phonies, as it were. In electronic apps for time scheduling they ought to use two different calendars with different colors, and for the soft calendar they could even have more convenient reshuffling features, such as move all soft events forward one day while avoiding time slots that are hard scheduled. Since I do not use soft scheduling at all I do not need this myself, but I find it quite remarkable that this never comes up as a request in the forums of generic time planning apps. (Lucky for them I am not a time planner ;-) )
I have wondered the same thing and the answer I have drawn is simple: programmers aren't designing schedules to be used in this way. They are only thinking of schedules as tools to set appointments.

Notice that most calendar management programs are add-ons to email programs. This after-thought effect shows in the quality of the software and it's ease of use. I haven't seen one program that is designed to help someone easily juggle their schedule.

Calendar/schedule designers badly need a philosophy to use as the start of new design principles. In this respect, GTD hasn't helped due to its reinforcement of an appointment-only scheduling philosophy.

There needs to be a Steve Jobs' like re-think of programs like Outlook and Gmail/GCal. He re-imagined hardware /software tools as consumer appliances.

Something similar is needed - a fresh look at design that isn't tied to an email program as the foundation element.

What does everyone else think?

Francis
 

TesTeq

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Project-based workflow.

fwade;111927 said:
Let's a take an everyday example: At 11am your boss wanders into your office and asks, what do you plan to work on this afternoon?

Most people don't say "I have no idea, it depends on what I choose from my list at the time." This might be because they don't want to appear to be inefficient. But it's more likely that they'd give a definitive answer such as: "The Penske File" because earlier that morning they created a mental plan of the work they decided to do. A mental schedule, in other words.

If their boss responds with "Can you take 2 hours away from working on the Penske file and work on something else I want you to do?... But I still need that Penske report done by Thursday."
Great example of the Project-based workflow instead of the Next Action-based one proposed by David Allen. If you focus on preparing report for Project A and have to open Excel to create a spreadsheet you very RARELY make modifications in Project B's spreadsheet just because you are in the @excel context.
 

TesTeq

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Why am I @context?

fwade;111928 said:
However, there's a bigger question - how do you decide when to schedule your gardening or errands in the first place?
As far as I understand it GTD does not answer this question. According to David Allen I am always in @context but I've yet to see the answer why and how I've arrived there. Magic? Is there a higher power that imposess @context on me? No, I choose contexts to get things done!
 

TesTeq

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Above & Beyond?

fwade;111929 said:
Notice that most calendar management programs are add-ons to email programs. This after-thought effect shows in the quality of the software and it's ease of use. I haven't seen one program that is designed to help someone easily juggle their schedule.
I haven't noticed this pattern. Never! Can you give any example except for Microsoft Outlook?

fwade;111929 said:
There needs to be a Steve Jobs' like re-think of programs like Outlook and Gmail/GCal.
What do you think about the dynamic scheduling in the Above & Beyond PIM?
 

Folke

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Very interesting comments, fwade.

fwade;111929 said:
I have found that it's stressful to maintain a mental calendar.
I agree with that; it can be stressful to maintain a mental picture of anything, and it is very useful to have things in writing (off your mind somehow).

I, too, like to have a "summary picture" both in writing and in my mind, and be able to check them against each other. I am not at all sure that this needs to be complete with exact time slots, though. Like with anything, you need a certain degree of precision, but once you reach that degree, additional precision can become a distraction.

What I am striving for, and succeed with differently well depending on which app I am using at the moment, is to have the following collected on one single "dashboard" ("white index card"):
  • Appointments today, with exact time slots
  • Hard deadlines today, with exact time if applicable
  • Tentatively decided tasks for today (can be changed later at my discretion)
  • Things that I want to be constantly aware of today, just in case

I personally have no problem with saying to people that I need to check my list. (I think calendar sounds a bit stuffy.)

fwade;111929 said:
programmers aren't designing schedules to be used in this way. They are only thinking of schedules as tools to set appointments.
Yes, it is strange. Although I am not a time planner, I believe it would be fully feasible - and economical overall - to develop an app that serves both purposes, and lets the user have access to lots of automated "plasticity" for the "soft" actions, while leaving the "hard" ones in place and automatically avoiding calendar clashes.

fwade;111929 said:
Contexts and tags can be used in a way that allows us to take advantage of particular physical locations.

However, there's a bigger question - how do you decide when to schedule your gardening or errands in the first place?
This is really a key question that pertains to the original topic of this thread. There seems to be an enormous amount of confusion in GTD app forums about this. Many people almost seem to believe that you are not allowed to choose a context; that contexts somehow come and go all of their own accord, and that all you are allowed to do is adapt to them. Priority comes as #4, they seem to believe, if all else fails. But they have forgotten that this is only true as long as your decision has already been made to stay in that context.

So, how do we choose contexts. One influencing factor, obviously, is the contexts of our hard appointments and deadlined actions. The other main factor is priority! Another important factor is the "economy" of switching - the physical effort, distance etc, the mental effort and mental refreshment etc.

May I quote what I myself said earlier about priorities (and the unnamed context switching level) in post #50:

Folke;111860 said:
I am not confused at all about how I myself will deal with priorities... I keep it totally dynamic at the task level. I keep it as firm and steady as possible (but not carved in stone) at the projects and goals levels.

At the unnamed level in between these, where I choose a suitable context to spend the morning or afternoon etc., I use a kind of "attention flagging" which is neither directly GTD nor any other methodology. It is my own invention, but definitely aligned with the GTD spirit of reviewing and making dynamic decisions. Before I even choose a context to be in next, I always look both at my calendar (for appointments etc) and at my consolidated Next list for flagged next actions. Based on what I see I will intuitively select a context to put myself in (or remain in), and based on that choice I will then select the actual actions intuitively within that context. I usually review my choice of context a few times a day, and check flagged next actions each time.
And it seems that TesTeq concurs:

TesTeq;111932 said:
As far as I understand it GTD does not answer this question. According to David Allen I am always in @context but I've yet to see the answer why and how I've arrived there. Magic? Is there a higher power that imposess @context on me? No, I choose contexts to get things done!
 

bcmyers2112

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fwade;111927 said:
(By the same token, a list is nothing more than a schedule with the dates removed!)
That's like saying pure oxygen is water with the hydrogen atoms removed. Pure oxygen is not water. By the same token, a schedule by definition includes dates and/or times. Remove those and a list is not a schedule.

fwade;111927 said:
Most people don't say "I have no idea, it depends on what I choose from my list at the time." This might be because they don't want to appear to be inefficient.
When I review my lists I can flag actions that I've identified as the ones I want to focus on. If one is doing GTD on paper, one could simply do the same thing using an index card or a blank sheet of paper.

The difference between this and arbitrary scheduling is that if something comes up to blow up my plan for the day -- which happens pretty much every day -- I can junk my hotlist in a few seconds and my context lists are intact. I don't have to re-do my calendar because I reserve it for those things that are truly date- and time-specific.

So if my boss asks me what I'm working on today, I can tell him without creating a mental schedule.

Practicing GTD does not preclude planning for the day.

fwade;111927 said:
If their boss responds with "Can you take 2 hours away from working on the Penske file and work on something else I want you to do?... But I still need that Penske report done by Thursday."

Now you have to make a snap judgement based on you mental calendar for the next few days.
If I got such a directive from my boss I'd check my calendar (the "hard landscape" items like meetings and other day- and time-specific commitments and my context lists for anything else with due dates. I can solve that issue without resorting to arbitrary scheduling.
 

bcmyers2112

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fwade;111928 said:
However, there's a bigger question - how do you decide when to schedule your gardening or errands in the first place?
Using common sense. I am a salesperson and my clients and prospects can only be reached between 8 - 5, Monday - Friday. So I don't plan on gardening or buying groceries when I'm supposed to be working.

There's nothing in GTD that says you can't review all of your context lists first thing in the morning to determine if there's a particular context you need to make available to yourself during the day.

I call this sort of thing "analysis paralysis." These problems you posit are easily solved. I don't think most people have trouble deciding whether to go to work, buy groceries, do gardening, or go to a funeral -- unless they analyze it to the extent you are here. If the unexamined life is problematic, I'd say the overly examined life is as well.

fwade;111928 said:
For people who aren't time constrained, this probably isn't a problem, but for those who are time starved, it's likely that their busy lives may lead to them forgetting to go do the errands, and never set the time aside to do the gardening.
You're focusing on one aspect of GTD -- context lists -- and ignoring much of the rest of it. The GTD methodology takes into account context, time available, energy available, and priority when choosing what to do. It also includes examining one's long-term goals and life's purpose to determine what should be on your lists.

If you are "time-starved" and unable to find time for gardening, and gardening is really important to you, GTD makes it easy to determine what's out-of-whack. If your boss is overloading you with work such that you can't pursue personal interests, the best way for that to become readily apparent is for you to see all of your commitments objectively collected in an easily reviewable format.

As I am getting on my feet with GTD, that's the first thing I've noticed. I am a salesperson and my job often requires a lot more than 40 hrs per week. I am president of the board of a small arts non-profit. My girlfriend and I own a house together, we have four pets (two of whom have health issues), I have hobbies including drawing and writing, I have friends and family to whom I want to devote time, a close family member with a serious illness, my own health to manage...

Do I get to join your "time-starved" club?

Seriously, GTD has helped me in this regard rather than the opposite. As I've been getting on my feet with GTD I've been finding that GTD has revealed where I am over-committed and I can see in concrete terms the tough choices I need to make.

fwade;111928 said:
But if you are - I don't see a better way than making a schedule of activity that reflects your priorities and intentions.
Well, I am and I do see a better way. I am now keeping a complete inventory of my commitments in appropriate buckets, reserving my calendar for those things that are truly date- and time-specific. And I'm finding that it is making it easier for me to manage my "time-starved" life because I can truly see all of my commitments and the choices I need to make.
 

bcmyers2112

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So we're clear, Francis -- I'm not arguing that you must change the way you do things. The only person who can truly judge how to manage your commitments is you. But I've tried things your way and found it less effective than GTD. Just as you are advocating for your own views, I am doing the same with mine.

Just so we're clear. It's all good, and it's cool that you came by to share your views. There is still no need for you to duck. ;)
 

Oogiem

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Folke;111934 said:
So, how do we choose contexts. One influencing factor, obviously, is the contexts of our hard appointments and deadlined actions. The other main factor is priority! Another important factor is the "economy" of switching - the physical effort, distance etc, the mental effort and mental refreshment etc.
You totally forget the fact that for many folks a significant portion of your tasks are "work as it appears" and that will affect what context you must go to or be in.

I live and work in the same place, within limits of work as it appears I can choose any context at any time. How do I choose contexts? By checking the time I have available, and the quick read of my lists I do each morning along with my calendar review so I know what contexts have the most tasks and may need a little working time.

But for me the world can change dramatically depending on what I see out the window at first light. Ram stuck in fence, suddenly getting him out, getting the fence rebuilt or gate off and new wire welded on becomes the primary issue of the day. Horse down colicing, decision time, is it a vet call? Yes, but vet is how many hours away? Do I shoot the horse now to ease her suffering or not? Yes, well then now we have to deal with the body. Is the backhoe working? Yes, and at the end of the day you've done absolutely nothing that was originally on the list but you've handled the emergency as best you can with the tools available.

During lambing I know not to have very many projects active at all as my entire day is spent dealing with work as it comes, handling new lambs, tagging, weighing, being a sheep midwife as necessary and so on. This lambing I'm going to be adding a major project of data collection and testing using LambTracker and probably programming and bug fixes in between lambs as we work out the inevitable problems. So lambing may be 5 months away but I already know that I can't schedule much of anything then because daily stuff will take over.

You choose your contexts (within reason) and that is also one reason that even though we may have ubiquitous e-mail with our smart phones it is still useful to segregate tasks by application and location and tool. It's a lot easier to look at the ewe in labor, figure you have about 15 minutes before you really need to do anything and make a couple of quick phone calls before your hands get messy. If those calls were all jumbled and not in a separate place it would be harder to use those bits of time. Or like now, when I am filling water tanks I can usually do some looking up of stuff on the net or phone calls while I am waiting. If my actions are small enough and well defined in a context I can sometimes move 8-9 projects one step forward just while I am waiting for water tanks to fill.

That sort of work is impossible if it's on a calendar somewhere.
 

Folke

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Oogiem;111938 said:
You totally forget the fact that for many folks a significant portion of your tasks are "work as it appears" and that will affect what context you must go to or be in.
...
But for me the world can change dramatically depending on what I see out the window at first light.
You are right. For me, those things would be priorities, too, to the extent that I allow them to be, for example, putting out a sudden fire or saving the life of that ram. It certainly falls under "priority" for me, but I agree that it is much clearer to point it out separately as this is a "sudden, undocumented priority" as opposed to the "recognized priorities" in my list. My bad.
 

fwade

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Task/ Todo software

TesTeq;111933 said:
I haven't noticed this pattern. Never! Can you give any example except for Microsoft Outlook?

What do you think about the dynamic scheduling in the Above & Beyond PIM?
TesTeq - which pattern are you referring to? The quote didn't seem to apply to your comment so I got a bit lost...:confused:

I'll check out Above and Beyond - never heard of that one.

The problem, in general, that cool task and todo managers have is that they aren't integrated into Outlook, or Gmail or other email clients. People have a tough time learning new habits that involve opening new software, no matter how cool.

In other words, they are quite used to processing time demands by reading email, and dealing with messages in their software of choice. They have a tough time using new software and essentially shifting the management of time demands from one location to another.

The software looks promising, however, at first glance. It has some features I have never seen before!
 

fwade

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Context needs to be "understood" before being defined/chosen

Folke;111934 said:
Very interesting comments, fwade.
Thanks - I have been banging my head against many of these issues for a long time... Trying to close the gaps between my experience, books like GTD, and the hard research.

Folke;111934 said:
What I am striving for, and succeed with differently well depending on which app I am using at the moment, is to have the following collected on one single "dashboard" ("white index card"):
  • Appointments today, with exact time slots
  • Hard deadlines today, with exact time if applicable
  • Tentatively decided tasks for today (can be changed later at my discretion)
  • Things that I want to be constantly aware of today, just in case

Yes, it is strange. Although I am not a time planner, I believe it would be fully feasible - and economical overall - to develop an app that serves both purposes, and lets the user have access to lots of automated "plasticity" for the "soft" actions, while leaving the "hard" ones in place and automatically avoiding calendar clashes.
I think you are right on point here. Hopefully, there are some software developers tuning into this forum! Most of what I see is awfully disappointing, and reflects no attempt to rethink... which is the starting point for great software. My impression is that there are lots of people working on new software... but they can't automate what they don't understand. Enter Steve Jobs...

We SO want the same thing! I have to believe that there are millions who are suffering because of bad software design, which leads to bad habits.

I heard that Blackberry made a switch a few years ago from shipping their new products with ALL the notifications turned on, to all of them (apart from the phone ring) turned off. That small change on their part (if it's true) probably saved millions of dollars of productive time. How tragic, and amazing!

Folke;111934 said:
This is really a key question that pertains to the original topic of this thread. There seems to be an enormous amount of confusion in GTD app forums about this. Many people almost seem to believe that you are not allowed to choose a context; that contexts somehow come and go all of their own accord, and that all you are allowed to do is adapt to them. Priority comes as #4, they seem to believe, if all else fails. But they have forgotten that this is only true as long as your decision has already been made to stay in that context.
I think this goes back to something that was said in this forum. There are different kinds of contexts, and they need to be sorted out once and for all.
Folke;111934 said:
So, how do we choose contexts.
Some are spatial... some are software based... some are energy based... some are "priority" based... some are temporal... some are urgency based... etc.

It's obvious, isn't it, that one's understanding of contexts shapes everything? This applies whether you use a calendar, list, memory... whatever. You need to choose the type of context (e.g. spatial) as well as the actual contexts (@home.)

Our discussion so far highlights the importance of this understanding and the subsequent choices.

Folke;111934 said:
As far as I understand it GTD does not answer this question. According to David Allen I am always in @context but I've yet to see the answer why and how I've arrived there. Magic? Is there a higher power that imposess @context on me? No, I choose contexts to get things done!
What a great quote! This is the kind of thing that researchers should be working on. Much of the academic research is fails to address the real problems that people have and tries to solve problems that people don't have or care about. I have a list of 80 papers in my website's time management library if anyone would like to take a look at what I'm talking about. And these are the BEST papers.

The vast majority don't reach the depth of our conversation in this forum, unfortunately...:?
 

bcmyers2112

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At the risk of beating a dead horse, resurrecting it as a zombie, and... uh-oh...

fwade;111975 said:
I have to believe that there are millions who are suffering because of bad software design, which leads to bad habits.
In my experience the problem is not poor software leading to bad habits, but bad habits leading to poor use of available tools. If you accept the premise that we are constrained by the tools that exist then I could see why one would clamor for better tools. I don't accept that premise. I've made the mistake of becoming obsessed with tools. Turns out I was trying to avoid the hard work needed to improve my lot in life.

During those times in my life when I've been most productive, whiz-bang tools had nothing to do with it. It was purely a function of being fully present in the moment and engaged with what I was doing.

fwade;111975 said:
I think this goes back to something that was said in this forum. There are different kinds of contexts, and they need to be sorted out once and for all.
I don't see how that can be done. Not with the contexts you and Folke have discussed. Spatial contexts, temporal contexts, emotional contexts, energy contexts... these things shift like sands in a desert sandstorm. They will never "settle once and for all" because life doesn't "settle once and for all." Well, until life ends, that is.

fwade;111975 said:
Some are spatial... some are software based... some are energy based... some are "priority" based... some are temporal... some are urgency based... etc.
Person, place, and tool contexts may not be perfect but they're fairly objective. If I'm in my car driving to the groceries, I'm in my "errands" context. At the office, sitting at my desk, I've got my "calls," "computer," and "office" contexts available. If my boss is in town (he actually lives four hours away and manages me remotely for the most part), I've got my "boss" context available.

Some of the other types of "contexts" you're talking about are subjective, like "energy," "urgency," and even "temporal." Whether or not I have enough energy to do something effectively, for example, or whether I even have a choice, is a judgement call and there is no formula in existence that can assist me in making that choice. Heck, if I'm doing a task I've never done before I may not be able to predict how long it will take and must sometimes take a guess as to whether it's important enough to try it in the time I have available.

Sometimes you just have to be willing to make your best guess and not pine for software that will calculate every variable for you. Such software doesn't exist and even if it ever does come to fruition I doubt it will be as effective as some would hope.

fwade;111975 said:
It's obvious, isn't it, that one's understanding of contexts shapes everything?
I will again state I think you (and Folke as well) are overthinking things. While there is value in understanding the myriad intricate processes that take place within our bodies to allow us to walk, the one thing such understanding won't do is to help us to walk. Most of the work of walking must take place at an unconscious level. In a way, so too must our choices about what to do. Our best bet is to grasp our roles, goals and life's purpose well enough that we can trust our instincts to guide us. Otherwise we let ourselves in for analysis paralysis, which diminishes rather than enhances our effectiveness.
 

Folke

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Balance and Proprortion

@bcmyers2112

When you are arguing against something here, and are mentioning my name, I must say I do not recognize myself at all in your description. Maybe our backgrounds are too different to even be compared, I don't know.

Overthinking. Analysis paralysis. Etc. Perhaps I have been more fortunate than some to have a strong gut that I have always trusted. I did not need a David Allen to tell me to trust it. If I had waited that long I might have been dead already. I am not paralyzed, never have been. I think analysis is great fun, though, and more importantly it is a way to clarify things, eliminate misconceptions and illusions, and define concepts that are clear and strong enough to be of practical use.

I think much of your arguing is too theatrical, too black and white, and you talk as if you assume that we are on opposite sides. I'd say I am on the gray side. Poor software vs bad habits, for example. We probably all have our fair share of both bad habits and bad software. And both of them could be improved. Why would an effort to make improvements need to be limited to only one of these? What's wrong with seeking improvements everywhere?

You say that some contexts are objective and others subjective. I, too, prefer them to be as objective and firm as possible. Now, how objective is a "calls" context, really? Did somebody super-glue the phone to your ear? Is it impossible to switch to the "computer" context that is right in front of you? And why would fwade's temporal contexts be subjective? If a certain shop is only open from 12 to 4. isn't that a very concrete and objective temporal context? Or "weekends" or "mornings" (fuzzier edges, but still at least equally clear and objective as "calls"). You also mention energy contexts, and yes, I agree that these inner contexts are much harder to define, but hard does not mean impossible, and besides, you do not necessarily need to define them to be able to use them. Remember that even David Allen thinks it is possible to feel with your gut whether you are tired or not.

What you say, and what I agree with 200%, is that our decisions are "judgment calls". Exactly my opinion. The best we can do with all or software and pencils and methodologies is keep "notes" that will be useful for us at the time we need to make those judgment calls. Why wouldn't we want to have good tools for keeping those notes?
 

bcmyers2112

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Folke;111990 said:
When you are arguing against something here, and are mentioning my name, I must say I do not recognize myself at all in your description. Maybe our backgrounds are too different to even be compared, I don't know.
If I have misrepresented your POV, I apologize. For what it's worth, it wasn't deliberate.

Folke;111990 said:
I think much of your arguing is too theatrical, too black and white, and you talk as if you assume that we are on opposite sides.
Well, I was a theater geek in high school.

Folke;111990 said:
I'd say I am on the gray side. Poor software vs bad habits, for example. We probably all have our fair share of both bad habits and bad software. And both of them could be improved. Why would an effort to make improvements need to be limited to only one of these? What's wrong with seeking improvements everywhere?
Simply put, I can't control what software developers will come up with but I can direct myself to improve my habits. Also I think I'm satisfied to use software to do what you have referred to as "GTD as if on paper," whereas you have indicated you feel that is less than satisfactory. I've found a software tool I really like: Evernote. You have pooh-poohed the value of being able to send an email to Evernote and "convert" it into a next action whereas I find that of great value. I'm perfectly OK with the pooh-poohing -- you have a right to your opinion about the value of certain software features or lack thereof, and I don't take it personally. But I feel I'm equally entitled to my opinion and many of the software features you're clamoring for don't bang a gong with me. I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree.

Folke;111990 said:
You say that some contexts are objective and others subjective. I, too, prefer them to be as objective and firm as possible. Now, how objective is a "calls" context, really? Did somebody super-glue the phone to your ear? Is it impossible to switch to the "computer" context that is right in front of you?
No, of course these things aren't set in stone. When I say certain contexts are objective, what I mean is the person, place, or tool is available to you or it isn't. If a next action requires me to be at the office -- say because there's a hardcopy brochure I want to send to a prospect that is in the marketing storeroom -- and I'm at home, objectively speaking that context isn't available to me. And while many of us always have a phone with us these days, I can't expect to reach a customer at 2 am. So, again, that is an objective context; I can either make a call or I can't. And yes, under certain circumstances I might choose to email rather than call someone who is on my calls list. I never said these things are set in stone. What I said was that choosing what context to be in is often simply a matter of common sense. If I'm supposed to be at the office, I should be at the office. If I'm out of certain groceries on a Wednesday, I should stop by the grocery store after work.

Folke;111990 said:
And why would fwade's temporal contexts be subjective? If a certain shop is only open from 12 to 4. isn't that a very concrete and objective temporal context?
Yes, it is. As I already stated, however, a "temporal context" could be subjective if one is trying to determine how long one will need for a certain task. That can vary depending on one's energy level. And I'll repeat the example I already gave: tackling a task I've never done before. I might guess that it will take two hours but could run into an unexpected problem and spend twice as long on it as I thought I would.

Folke;111990 said:
What you say, and what I agree with 200%, is that our decisions are "judgment calls". Exactly my opinion. The best we can do with all or software and pencils and methodologies is keep "notes" that will be useful for us at the time we need to make those judgment calls. Why wouldn't we want to have good tools for keeping those notes?
OK, maybe I'm not understanding you properly. Are you saying you want things like priority, energy level, etc. explicitly codified in your lists? It's something I've heard other people clamor for, and have encountered a couple of digital tools that allow such codification. I don't see the value -- to me such codification over-complicates things. Things like my energy level and my emotional state can vary from moment to moment. But at any given point in time, certain contexts simply are or are not available to me.

If I have misrepresented what you are saying I apologize and if you are inclined to help me better understand your POV I would like that very much.
 

TesTeq

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Calendar management programs development pattern.

fwade;111974 said:
TesTeq - which pattern are you referring to? The quote didn't seem to apply to your comment so I got a bit lost...:confused:
I am talking about the "calendar management programs development pattern" as invented by you: "most calendar management programs are add-ons to email programs."

I think that very rarely calendar management programs were developed as add-ons to email programs.

Can you give any example except for Microsoft Outlook?
 

mcogilvie

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TesTeq;111933 said:
What do you think about the dynamic scheduling in the Above & Beyond PIM?
I think dynamic scheduling is the work of the devil. It's so bad in so many ways I can't list them all, but forcing time estimates and priorities is surely a gtd sin.. At first I was surprised that Above and Beyond was still around, but I guess it's like COBOL, with a long tail.
 

Folke

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bcmyers2112;111991 said:
If I have misrepresented your POV, I apologize. For what it's worth, it wasn't deliberate.
No problem. I have probably accidentally misunderstood yours, too, from time to time. Piece, brother ;)

bcmyers2112;111991 said:
Simply put, I can't control what software developers will come up with but I can direct myself to improve my habits. Also I think I'm satisfied to use software to do what you have referred to as "GTD as if on paper," whereas you have indicated you feel that is less than satisfactory.
Good point. We are in control of ourselves but not in control of software developers. On the other hand, if we are lucky, we might be able to get some developer to develop exactly what we want without us having to do more than shout a bit in a forum somewhere (whether that be email/Evernote/attachments support or improved context filtering etc) ;)

I would guess, though, that both you and I, and maybe even the vast majority, would sneer at 90% of the feature suggestions made by fellow users in most app forums. We all want what we want, but usually do not share the dreams of others.

As a curiosity, may I mention to you something that may come as a surprise to you, that I currently have only five contexts defined, none of them overlapping. I get by with that, but I do indeed have some "realistic dreams" about how it might be possible to refine the use of contexts.

bcmyers2112;111991 said:
No, of course these things aren't set in stone. When I say certain contexts are objective, what I mean is the person, place, or tool is available to you or it isn't. If a next action requires me to be at the office -- say because there's a hardcopy brochure I want to send to a prospect that is in the marketing storeroom -- and I'm at home, objectively speaking that context isn't available to me. And while many of us always have a phone with us these days, I can't expect to reach a customer at 2 am. So, again, that is an objective context; I can either make a call or I can't. And yes, under certain circumstances I might choose to email rather than call someone who is on my calls list. I never said these things are set in stone. What I said was that choosing what context to be in is often simply a matter of common sense. If I'm supposed to be at the office, I should be at the office. If I'm out of certain groceries on a Wednesday, I should stop by the grocery store after work.
I am a strong supporter of GTD. I believe in the principle of making a judgment call based on the current factual situation as a whole, whether we call it context or environment or preconditions etc. I suffer mentally when I see the "idea" of situational decision making being ridiculed and cast aside, and replaced with arbitrarily pre-programmed time scheduling or priority scheduling, which is what we see in most apps, even those that call themselves GTD.

As you indicate, some contexts are clearer than others, and "coding" is always extra work. I think we can agree that whatever "coding" we do must be worth our while. For it to be worthwhile it must be clear enough what the codes (or tags or levels or classes or contexts or whatever we call them) mean and how we will use them, and this in turn generally means they must be factual/objective enough in some sense. And it must be something we can make good use of often, i.e relevant to the choices we need to make.

I find this a very interesting territory. I think it is possible to do much more (make it both easier and clearer) than most apps do, and I also believe that this is an area where the "GTD camp" could win over a number of people from the "time allocation" camp. But be that as it may. That's probably best discussed in a separate thread. I do believe, though, that the absence of a more "structured" philosophy and methodology regarding the situational choice is one of the reasons why some people find GTD confusing and unsatisfactory. They are asked to give up their precious time scheduling, and what do they get instead? The instruction to "look at the list and follow your gut"! That may perhaps be enough for you and me, who do what the heck we want anyway, but I would never dream of giving such an instruction to anybody who is asking for answers. People will automatically stop listening to all your details when they had their fill, but up to that point they want to satisfy their every need for structure. And I do think GTD has additional potential here.
 

bcmyers2112

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The zombie horse was destroyed yet came back to life yet again...!

Folke;111996 said:
That may perhaps be enough for you and me, who do what the heck we want anyway, but I would never dream of giving such an instruction to anybody who is asking for answers. People will automatically stop listening to all your details when they had their fill, but up to that point they want to satisfy their every need for structure. And I do think GTD has additional potential here.
You may be surprised to learn I was a convert from the A-B-C/1-2-3 Franklin-Covey priority coding, daily-list-making, arbitrarily-scheduling-everything school.

Also, I don't do "what the heck I want" all the time. Sometimes I do things I have to but would rather not. I have a job. I have a boss. I'm practically married (I have been living with the same woman for nearly 12 years). In fact, I don't want to do laundry right now but if I don't when my girlfriend gets home it's going to be an issue. (Would that fall under @Home or @Hell Hath No Fury? If the latter isn't a context perhaps it should be.)

(I kid, I kid. My girlfriend's a sweetheart. Generally.)
 
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