NextActions versus @Context

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chrism...@gmail.com

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Mar 4, 2005, 10:21:42 AM3/4/05
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When I started using GTD I kept only one list: NextActions.

Recently I started creating AtContext lists to keep things more divided
and I've discovered its a great motivational tool... It helps you avoid
that "well I can't do that right now because I'm at home/work and I
don't have what I need" excuse.

But I still have my NextActions list and I'm trying to figure out where
it fits in. Is NextActions just a catchall for things that don't fit on
AtContext lists? Or is it something higher level than that? How does
everybody else use AtContext vs NextActions lists?

Thanks,
Chris

Jeffrey C.Long

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Mar 4, 2005, 5:53:56 PM3/4/05
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I believe that NextActions is a category under which AtContexts are
more specific. So i would imagine the best thing to do with all your
NextActions is to determine what the Contexts are for each one. I see
two ways to do this. One would be to keep a NextActions folder as a
catch-all for things that come to you while you are busy doing things
and then when you have time for a review, contextualizing them. The
other would be to always contextualize NextActions in the moment and
never having the catch-all. Which way you choose to work depends on
your own personal work-flow.

Jeffrey
je...@jeffreyclong.com
http://www.jeffreyclong.com

Some years ago, NASA released the first deep-space photographs of the
beautiful cloud-swirled blue-green agate we call Earth. A reporter
showed one of them to the late Samuel Shenton, then president of
International Flat Earth Research Society. Shenton studied it for a
moment and said, “It's easy to see how such a picture could fool the
untrained eye.”

Charles Starrett

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Mar 4, 2005, 7:56:32 PM3/4/05
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Tinderbox can create AtContext lists automagically provided that you
give it a hint. I try to be consistent in naming my next actions with
a context word such as "call" "buy" "waiting" etc. I've created an
agent for each context which looks for the appropriate context word in
the title of each NextAction. If it finds the word, it adds an alias
to that NextAction in the appropriate context list. The neato part is
that with one menu command, all my context lists are exported to
individual HTML files which Plucker picks up and puts into my Palm!

(I'm finding that I use my Palm less-and-less for data input, and more
just as a compact and convenient reference platform. I use a
HipsterPDA for input because it's faster and it doesn't crash!)

Charles Starrett

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Mar 4, 2005, 8:03:52 PM3/4/05
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Brilliant. I had meant to answer the original question in there.
Sorry!

Anyhow, that is to say that for me, I have everything in the
NextActions list and let Tinderbox take care of contexts. This means
that I need to be sure to scan the entire NextActions list at least
once-a-day since some things don't fit into a context. I suppose I
could create an "other" agent which tests for titles which have none of
the context keywords, but just scanning the NextActions list is easy
enough.

whs...@yahoo.com

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Mar 13, 2005, 12:58:26 AM3/13/05
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chrism...@gmail.com wrote:
> ...

> But I still have my NextActions list and I'm trying to figure out
where
> it fits in. Is NextActions just a catchall for things that don't fit
on
> AtContext lists? Or is it something higher level than that? How does
> everybody else use AtContext vs NextActions lists?

I think there's a bit of a false dichotomy here. @Context lists *are*
next action lists. The point is, you take your next actions and then
group them into contexts. The fact that you happened to have a
non-contextual next action list (NextActions) is a slight departure
from GTD's approach, but I don't think it'll kill you :-)

Personally, I've never found the contextual thing too helpful. The
following makes sense to me:

http://www.marktaw.com/gtd/ContextLists.html

--

Betsy Schwartz

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Mar 13, 2005, 8:54:19 AM3/13/05
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My NextActions list seems to be an "at computer" list since that's
where most of my stuff is and where I am much of the time. I renamed
it @NextActions so it would line up neatly.

I'm trying to make categories that make sense for me. I don't know if
I'm going to keep all these categories. I made an @calls category
since I have big problems with forgetting to make calls until it is
after business hours, and I also have an @WORK category for things
that have to be done at my work desk (I sometimes work from home, so
need to make sure that I do onsite stuff onsite). Maybe these could be
the same category, but OTOH I like the idea that a list ONLY contains
things that you can do in that context, so you don't have to be
scanning and pruning the list.

I suspect that there are many different ways to make it work -whatever
keeps you from forgetting things without making you spend much time
futzing with the lists.

David

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Mar 16, 2005, 7:10:23 AM3/16/05
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I did a modification of the @Computer context:

@Computer-Home
@Computer-Office

in order to partition the personal from the professional.

I agree with a previous posts that everything in an @context is a next
action; it just has an added contextual attribute that allows you to
group-and-sort (view) them in a useful way. It's an alternative view to
the Project view (I'm a user of the GTD addin for Outlook that has a
buttons for switching quickly between these two views, which is helpful
for things like the Weekly Review).

I also agree about @Errands is out of the office context. Note that
David Allen modified this to have @Errands for general errands and
@Errands-Ojai for stuff that he could only do in vacinity of his home
(presumably things like gardening supplies and pet food).

I also take the point by MarkTAW that for people chained to your desk
who don't travel much, you are likely to have fewer contexts.

David.

Bill Nalen

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Mar 16, 2005, 8:30:51 AM3/16/05
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On Mar 16, 2005, at 7:10 AM, David wrote:

>
> I did a modification of the @Computer context:
>
> @Computer-Home
> @Computer-Office
>
> in order to partition the personal from the professional.
>
> I agree with a previous posts that everything in an @context is a next
> action; it just has an added contextual attribute that allows you to
> group-and-sort (view) them in a useful way. It's an alternative view to
> the Project view (I'm a user of the GTD addin for Outlook that has a
> buttons for switching quickly between these two views, which is helpful
> for things like the Weekly Review).

Do you still wind up with a NextActions list? If so, do you then have
to scan that list plus the current context list to find the Next Action
to do?

--
Bill Nalen
RedBog Software

http://www.gardenboss.com : Visual garden planner for Windows
http://www.redbog.com : WKrellM system monitor


David

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Mar 16, 2005, 4:40:39 PM3/16/05
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I found my notes on David Allen's Palm organizer categories

http://www.davidco.com/tips_tools/tip43.html

With the Palm as my primary reminder system, I've had hundreds of
people ask about how I've structured my lists to implement the Action
to Outcome model in my seminars.

Because this may save a ton of time for people who've been through my
seminars, Im publishing this and will attempt to keep it current as I
fine-tune it. (This will also be of great value to people using any
list-based system for reminders.)

So, OK, here's the current (work-in-progress) version of my Palm
set-up:

Calendar and Tel/Add - that's pretty standard. (I do not use categories
in Tel/Add, except for Restaurants, under which I have all the local
restaurants. In case were out and about, and suddenly get the urge to
eat somewhere we haven't for a while...Otherwise The "Find" feature on
the Palm is rigorous and easy, and I just keep the tel/address list on
All all the
time.)

To-Do Lists: this is where I've installed the key reminder-type
operational lists that I review daily and weekly. Here is my current
set of categories:

- Projects (active more-than-one-action projects) - (I have about 60)

- Someday/Maybe (projects I might want to do in the future) - (I have
about 70)

(In the following categories I use the @ sign, to represent action
lists)

- @Agendas (items to cover with specific people when I am with them in
person or on the phone. Each person is listed as a to-do, and the
things to go over with them are listed in the attached Notes field)

- @Anywhere (actions that can be done pretty much wherever I am)

- @Call (actions at phone)

- @Computer (actions at computer)

- @Computer - Web (actions that require me being on line. Because I
travel so much, many times I'm not on line, so I like to distinguish
those)

- @Errands - (out-and-about things to do I can do while I'm traveling
as well as at home)

- @Errands - Ojai (out-and-about actions that require me being around
Ojai to do)

- @Home (actions that have to be done at home)

- @Office (actions that have to be done at my office)

- @Waiting For... (actions and projects other people are doing I care
about)


Memo Lists


- Clients (list of all of them, current and past)

- DA Thoughts (possible essay topics for my Food for Thoughts on the
Web)

- Dates (Birthdays and anniversaries, which it automatically sorts
chronologically, as they are listed "02-05 - John Doe")

- Focus Areas (Bigger checklists like larger goals, objectives, areas
of focus)

- Ideas??? (Crazy ad hoc ideas I want to save but don't know what to do
with)

- In development (Relationships, potential partnerships and networking
possibilities)

- Inspirations (Personal affirmations and inspiring quotes)

- Key people (Just that, a list I want to review to ensure I'm doing
what I want with the relationships)

- Lists (Weekly Review, Travel Checklist, and more than a dozen ad hoc
lists I want to keep for a while)

- Maybe Get (Books, CDs, Videos, Misc.)

- Next time in... (Lists of possible things to do by city, when I'm
there next)

- Travel (I have separate docs for each city, and the restaurants,
stores, and people to be reminded of there)

- Web articles (Ideas, themes, and topics I intend to add to this Web
site)

- Wine (Chardonnays, Chiantis, Pinot Noirs, etc. to archive for
reference)

David

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Mar 16, 2005, 4:44:15 PM3/16/05
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Bill:

I use both views, Context (aka, Actions in GTD plugin parlance) and
Projects. It depends on what I need to be doing. If I was looking for
calls, I'd go to @Calls, but if when my boss walks in and asks me
what's next with hiring a postdoc, I go to the Project on Hire Postdoc.
They are both NextActions lists, just with orthogonal views into the
lists.

The Project view is helpful especially when doing a Weekly Review.

David

Bryan Ewbank

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Mar 16, 2005, 7:04:12 PM3/16/05
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Is it just me, or did others notice that the URL was very apropos?
Perhaps HHGTTG was a victim of the classic "off by one" error with
"42"???
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