Work Contexts

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Stephen Brown, May 16, 2019.

  1. Chris Austin

    Chris Austin Registered

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    I find that I can accomplish almost all of my actions/tasks from anywhere with a laptop, iphone and other tools, so where I am at is not as relevant to me and I always have the tools I need with me. I prefer to tag my tasks with time to finish (5m, 15m, 1/2 hr, 1 hr, etc.) and/or energy level low/high and I also star some tasks to bring them focus. My gtd tool lets me assign these types of tags, so I take advantage of them. I like minimal lists, next actions, waiting for, someday/maybe and projects. I would go crazy with numerous lists, my next actions list can get lengthy but as mentioned earlier, I can easily sort by time, energy and importance. I will add additional tags like #thought, #read, #followup to identify items that I have to give thought to or will require me to read something of length or if I need to follow up..I don't like to leave people hanging, so this tag is a good one for me.
     
  2. Rostane

    Rostane Registered

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  3. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    These are not contexts in the strict sense. What he does is, instead of contexts, the 1st criterion, he uses the 2nd and 3rd criteria (time and energy) to divide (sort) the Next Actions list by.

    This idea is not new. It came up countless times on this forum and other places almost as soon as the (online) discussion about GTD begun.

    I can see purpose in some of these ideas. For instance, if you have a list of NAs that will for sure take you more than an hour (or another measure of prolonged time) to do, then I can see how that makes sense.

    If you use "energy available" however I see a conceptual problem. Usually a good measure of the energy you need for a given task gets activated when you start working on that task. In other words, the energy is only there once you started working.

    I fear that a list based on "energy level" will only inhibit productivity. It will stifle your courage and not inspire it.

    I like some other of his ideas. Routine Next Actions could go on a separate list, because you maybe don't want to be reminded of them every time you scan your main list. Routine items are probably better put into the tickler, but you may also want to keep the option to be reminded of them during "context" time.

    In regards to his premise, that context disappeared for many of us. Well, this is a bit too much his cultural bubble, I would say. But, nevertheless, coming from there I could see a @thinking / brainstorming list a feasible idea. You have your cell phone with you all the time and on it your list? You can always record your thoughts. It's something that doesn't need anything else. No project support materials have to be at reach.

    Some other contexts are still current for the majority of us, namely @errands, and probably @work vs @home.

    What comes up in these discussions on a regular basis is the fact, that for some @software_app (ie @photoshop) is a real context because the tool is only available mentally when one is "geared up" to work in that tool. To have a batch of tasks that are similar in that they happen inside the same mindset and tool-chest as well becomes a staple of productivity then.

    Another issue could be @device, even in a fully synced world a lot of software is not available in all sizes or you generally just don't want to type your email on a phone.

    Finally, a question that arises from his observation of how we do choose our next task (which I share):

    The decisions we make today in terms of the next action we engage in is determine by time and attention available. Whereby attention is a combination of energy and priority. Priorities are either imposed on us, but more often they are also a choice we make: “What is important to me?”

    It is this: how does it help me to make my choice, if my tasks are sorted by energy-level? If something bigger is also much more important right now, wouldn't that override the "energy" descriptor and just make me tackle that task?

    And if not, if I postpone that more important task by dashing to another, less daunting one, didn't we have that problem already?
     
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  4. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Lots of people noticed some time ago that they had potential access to a lot of conventional contexts simply by having a smartphone with them. Then they noticed that smartphones are not great tools for a lot of things. The Simplicity Bliss post from 2011 was a good early try at creating useful contexts for a highly connected world. To be honest, I don’t think this approach has seen widespread adoption. The latest edition of the GTD books takes a more flexible approach to contexts than the first edition, but there’s no universal way to get to a set of contexts that works well for each individual.
     
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  5. Ger80C

    Ger80C Registered

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    I agree that "forming contexts" is a highly individual issue. For example, I split up my work contexts into groups by looking at
    - the type of a task
    - the location
    - the mental intensity and creativity needed and
    - the typical time such tasks take

    Combining these criteria, I came up with the following categories for my office:

    @Office - general work that has to be done physically in the office
    @Draft - drafting work (longer letters, legal brief) that may be done in a quiet and protected environment but not necessarily in the office, but requires time and space (and maybe a block of time reserved in my calendar)
    @Dictate - Things I want to dictate (may be combined with "draft") - I can do these at home or at my office
    @Email - Emails (short/mid-length) to draft - can be done on my laptop or iPhone
    @Agendas - Agenda items to discuss (in person or over the phone) with colleagues
    @Calls - Call Fred :)
    @Computer - general tasks that require access to my work laptop
    @Travel - Travel arrangements to do (these are "low power mode"-Tasks for me)
    @look into - brainstorming, strategizing etc.
     
  6. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    I’ve tried something quite similar to this, but I found it unworkable. It slowed both front-end processing and choosing next actions to do by requiring more small, ambiguous decisions. But YMMV.
     
  7. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    I've re-introduced @calls because I found it is time-sensitive. I cannot call people in the middle of the night, but I habitually do all sorts of writing tasks late night.
     
  8. Rostane

    Rostane Registered

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    Great insights, thanks for your feedbacks !

    To be honest, I realized that I was too 'rigid' with the context when they actually need to be very flexible and personalized.
    Therefor, was wasting a lot of time to try to adapt the tasks to the context when it was supposed to be the opposite.

    Let's work on it... the simple way :)
     
  9. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    True, but after years trying to come up with clever, creative contexts the ones I use today are actually pretty close to what DA recommends in the original edition of GTD. In that book he suggests ways to split contexts (for example, sorting calls into personal and work buckets, which I do) and dividing your computer contexts by online vs. offline (which is close to what I do with cloud vs. device-dependent contexts).

    I didn't set out to make my contexts match DA's recommendations. It just happened because it made the most sense. Even in today's hyper-connected world the concept of contexts as presented by DA back when GTD was originally published are still relevant, at least to me.
     
  10. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    Completely off topic, but this reminds me of how I learned to plant carrots so that they actually grow. I rejected the Square Foot Gardening technique as too much trouble. I concocted technique after technique, for several years, and after I finally got one to work and celebrated my own genius, I realized that it was essentially identical to the one in Square Foot Gardening.
     
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  11. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    And there are a couple of ways of looking at this. You could say we both wasted a lot of time that we could've saved by just doing as we were told by the experts.

    Or you could say that we tested different methods to determine to our own satisfaction what works best.

    I prefer the latter perspective.
     
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  12. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Yeah, me too. I’ve got six:

    Desk
    Office
    Anywhere
    Uni
    Home
    Errands

    Desk is my desk either at home or work, usually the most populated context. Office is home office only. Uni is at work. Anywhere, Home and Errands as usual. I also have Tickler, Waiting For, Agendas, and Judy (spousal agenda). I’ve tried a lot of ideas, but these are what I keep coming back to.
     
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  13. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    While I prefer the latter perspective too, I have to say that in hindsight I feel kind of stupid for wasting so much time. Simple and clear is a lot better than complicated and ambiguous. David Allen was trying to tell me this all along, but I was stubborn.
     
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