GTD Software, How many contexts do you need?

Building your GTD tools for the first time can seem a little daunting, but remember your not tied to them, your chosen GTD tools will grow and form over time. This small article is designed to help new GTD users setup and think about their own context’s by looking at someone elses.I like to keep things simple in my life and that includes my GTD tools. Some may like to micro-manage their GTD context’s, having many contexts, but I prefer a simpler approach.

Computers

I run GTD Software on all of my PC’s using Nozbe which you can read about in another post on my GTD Software setup. Nozbe allows me to have maximum coverage over all the PC’s I work at, it’s like having one giant GTD tool that syncs without any real headaches!

I did say I like to keep things simple, and the first part lists 4 separate PC devices! Unfortunately all 4 systems are very different, for example Im not able to access work files from my @Mac GTD context (My home personal device). I can’t access the internet from my @Office PC. This did lead to some issues in my choice of GTD software, trying to get GTD tools to work across all devices was a challenge at first! It’s also handy that I can have multiple contexts on tasks, so sending some emails can be accomplished from any of my @computer context’s.

@Office PC

@Work Laptop

@Mac

@Mobile Device

 

@Office PC – My office pc is on its own network, so sending an email to office colleges has to be from this PC, the same rules apply to accessing files, I have no access from my other PCs. The joys of being a contractor on customer sites.

@Work laptop – Similar to above with my actual employers network. Again somewhat limited as there’s a vpn we must use.

@Mac – My home pc, where I blog and develop in my spare time, I have an iMac and MacBook Air but choose not to differentiate between them in contexts as I have them setup so all the files in need are synced so I can work at my iMac desk or grab the MacBook air and head to Starbucks without a 2nd thought.

@Mobile Device – This encompasses all my mobile devices, iPad, iPhone and my Galaxy Tab. I’m currently writing this article on my galaxy tab on the train and I’m looking forward to ticking off the task later today!

 

Locations.

Just the 3 locations works for me. Simple. I guess there’s one other place I could use @Train for my daily commute, however any tasks I could complete @Train is usually covered under the @Mobile Device (Morning review with my GTD software mobile app – is great!)

@Office

@Home

@Errands

 

@Office – My office location, used for daily office tasks that don’t involve a computer.

@Home – Guess where this is? Here is list chores around the house like the weekly garbage routine and odd jobs.

@Errands – Reserved for things I need to do when out and about. Things like poring letters or things I need to buy. I generally check these contexts in my GTD tools software as I’m about to leave the house or office. I actually use a 2nd task list software applications for general grocery shopping and will blog about that at a later date.

 

The remainder

@Agenda

@Phone

@Waiting For

@Read-Review

@Agenda – For things I need to dicuss face to face with people. This is a general thing which I do adapt from time to time to read @Agenda-Bill for things I need to discuss with Bill.

@Phone – Any phone calls I need to make, rather than being location based my phone calls are usually time based, ie Im not going to call my work colleague at 9pm, but I might call my parents.

@Waiting for – If Im waiting on an action from other people, I add their name to the start of the task and drop the task into this context, then review the list daily or weekly.’s

@Read-Review – Not strictly one of the real GTD context’s you can use but I like to keep things tidy in my lists, anything I need to read or review gets assigned here and tagged in EVERNOTE or in a folder in DROPBOX with Read-Review name. Now when Im in Nozbe I can actually complete my Read-Review task in the application. Once I’ve reviewed the document I move it out of the Dropbox folder or it’s tag in Evernote if I want to file it, or I just delete it.

 

So this is the final list of my GTD context’s in my GTD software.

@Office PC

@Work Laptop

@Mac

@Mobile Device

@Office

@Home

@Errands

@Agenda

@Phone

@Waiting For

@Read-Review

 

Are my GTD context’s too simplistic? Or maybe too many of them? How many GTD Context do you use?

  • Mike

    Marcus, great post as always. I know that it may sound like “GTD hypocrisy” , but the only contexts I use are for people (@Bob) or for errands (@hardware store). That works for me.

    • Thanks Mike, I like the way people adapt GTD priciples to their own workflows. You’ll never find me accusing anyone of “GTD hypocrisy”!

      In fact sometimes I think that it would be good for my own workflow if I was able to make sub contexts ie;

      @Errands
      >@Supermarket
      >@Hardware store

      @Agenda
      >@Bob
      >@Louise

      I think that could work for me… even if it’s not a real GTD principle!

  • Eytan

    Nice article! I actually just found IQTELL, it’s a web-based app that really focuses on helping you GTD. Since it’s in beta, invites are limited, but I have a few to give out if anyone is interested: eytanbiala@gmail.com.

    • Great, thought provoking post, Marcus. Since I first read David’s book several years ago, my work and my workflow have changed a lot. I review my contexts about every 6 months and adjust to fit my current.

      >>Eytan, I’d love an invite for IQTELL. I signed up on the waiting list but nothing yet so if you have any to share it would be great. I’ll send you an email post haste. THanks

    • I started out with a far more rigid contexts list than I do now. I use the locations exclusively now in RTM for every context that I have to be somewhere. @phone, @computer, @home, @work. etc…Every time I have an @something, I now think of it as a location.

      I never used @agenda. I never understood merging everybody that I need to talk to about something into one tag. So now I just tag tasks with each person’s name. In RTM I have my tag cloud showing, and can quickly find all tasks related to each person.

  • I started out with a far more rigid contexts list than I do now. I use the locations exclusively now in RTM for every context that I have to be somewhere. @phone, @computer, @home, @work. etc…Every time I have an @something, I now think of it as a location.

    I never used @agenda. I never understood merging everybody that I need to talk to about something into one tag. So now I just tag tasks with each person’s name. In RTM I have my tag cloud showing, and can quickly find all tasks related to each person.

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