Action List Organization: How Would You Handle THIS Scenario?
I run my business from my home office. I understand that Errands and Agendas are separate Context-Sorted Lists, but need clarification on other action reminder lists.
If I organize my other action reminders by David Allen’s recommended contexts “Calls”, “At Home”, “At Work”, and “At Computer”, I may be creating unneeded work for myself. This is because my phone is in my home office on my desk beside my computer.
Based on my situation, what should my Context Lists be?
Action List Scenario (continued)
Thanks for your all your input. The problem I'm having with creating separate context lists for phone and computer (in addition to the fact that my telephone is < 12 inches away from my computer keyboard) is priorities.
Let's take today, for example. My first priority of the day was to return a client's phone call. The second thing I needed to do was to go online and submit some forms that an associate of mine asked for. Third--I wanted to discuss a client of mine with one of my vendors. in other words, the sequence of activities was
I got what I needed to do completed and I was pleased, but I'm not sure if I did it within the guidelines of GTD because I moved from one context list (phone)-to another (computer) -and back to phone. How can I use GTD to help with this kind of prioritizing of tasks rather than of contexts?
Prioritizing of tasks vs context
I don't think GTD wants you to prioritize by Context. I also don't think there is any problem with jumping from Context list to Context list.
* Separating into Contexts was to keep us from "blowing a fuse" whenever we saw our jumbo Next Actions list.
* Separating into Contexts was for an efficiency factor as well. In deciding what you should do at a given moment, the first question is "What CAN you do?" It doesn't help you to review @Errands when you have 5 minutes in between meetings, for example, so there is no reason to review them.
* A Context is the "critical location or tool required to perform that Next Action". (Therefore, if you are at your home office, you may be @Home, @Phone, @Computer, @Office, etc., all at the same time.)
You could choose to have no Context lists. You would then only look in one place for Next Actions. However, you would have to read through many Next Actions that you can't perform, because you aren't in the Context for them. You end up having to do a second of thinking--can I do this here?--for each action. On the other hand, it's nice to have one big list because you review it more often than you may review a given Context list.
Or, you could choose to have Context lists. You would then have to determine what are all of your current Contexts when you review your lists. This may require a few seconds of thinking, like in the home office example above. I find, for instance, that "@Anywhere" is the easiest child to neglect, so to speak. On the other hand, if you know you are going to be at a phone, it's nice to have all of your calls on an @Phone list.
This doesn't give a definitive answer, but I hope it helps you figure out what works best for you.