Hi everybody, [sorry this is so long!]
I felt like I needed to reevaluate my contexts (for my next action lists) because one of my lists was very long, much longer than the others, and was a bit overwhelming to look at it. It had items that I don't need to look at through the week (outdoor tasks I mostly do on weekends), and things that were simply not getting done (things around the house to fix). So I wanted to reevaluate all of my contexts and wondered how do I determine the optimal set of contexts for my work and homelife...
I did this on memopad sheets but it would probably be a good mindmapping or outliner exercise.
First I thought about all the places where I might find myself and made a list. I started with "at home" and "other places" and then expanded from there, for example studio, office, places (ie. outside the home), outside (outside the house, for example doing yard work), etc. Of course these are all "contexts" but for the sake of discussion I'll call these "locations" so as not to confuse them with "@contexts".
Then under each Location I wrote out the different kinds of activities for that particular location. For example, under Places I listed errands, appointments, walk the dog, fun stuff (that would be plays, dinners, etc, I didn't actually list them all out). Under Office I listed Mac, desk work, Calls, Daily review, Weekly Review, Routines, etc.
So when it was all finished it was very easy to get a "big picture" of my daily activities, and I just went through the items and where there was an obvious next action context list just waiting to happen I put an "@", for example, @Mac, @errands, etc.
So I went from having four contexts to seven, with two of the contexts being mostly to be looked at on the weekend. The lists seem more manageable now, more balanced, and I believe these are the best set of contexts for me.
An interesting thing about this exercise is that when I was finished I not only had @contexts but all kinds of ideas for new checklists (a Mac checklist, for example, for routines like backups,etc; a list of new places to walk my dog, etc.). This outline also gave a new context to my existing checklists (for example, weekly housekeeping chores, my gardening checklist, etc.), which are somewhat scattered (some are on index cards on the fridge, some are grouped together in my gtd paper binder). Then I expanded the outline and under the different locations I added some things that I'm doing on a regular basis, for example under "Home" I listed guitar practice. And I listed things that I need to be thinking about more, under Desk I listed "long-term planning", etc.
Then in addition to the Locations, I added "Someday/Maybe" and "Waiting For" and turned it all into a one page chart.
So I ended up with a unifying overview of my daily life, all under the umbrella of GTD. It gave me ideas for new checklists of things that I have mostly just kept in my head. It gave me a perspective of how GTD truly covers all daily activities, even routine tasks. I thought I would use this chart during my weekly review (as kind of a checklist to trigger ideas and next actions) and I'm also thinking about other ways to use it, maybe organizing my paper binder more contextually (maybe put checklists and next action lists together if they have the same context.)