Once I have explained that the most effective way to get through your tasks is to list them by context, the next thing is … well how do I deal with what’s priority?
For those who haven’t read previous blog posts or are unfamiliar with Getting Things Done (GTD), let me explain what a context is.
A context defines how you work.
It could be a physical place like @office or @home or @desk.
It could be device such as @phone or @computer, a computer application such as @Excel or @Word.
It could be a mental state such as @quiet-time or @brain-dead or @talk-to.
The important thing to note about context is that there is a group of tasks that you can only do, or most effectively do, only in that context.
So if you can define each of your tasks by this context, it’s amazing how much faster you can complete each task because you are:
- More focused because you are only working in that context.
- More efficient because you are not having to spend the time to switch between contexts.
Seeing these lists can be disconcerting when your @office list has 30 items, your @computer list has 40 items, your @email list is at 150, and your @talk-to list is at 15. Oi vey! How the heck do your prioritise that?
Well, Getting Things Done has some wonderful material about how the 5th phase “Do” which includes how to determine what to work on in that minute. But here let me share with you one feature I make sure each one of my list managers has so I can more easily manage large context lists.
In the picture above, the “Notebook” is actually my project. Each project has multiple next actions which you can see in “Title”. I use “Tags” for my context but you can also see a sub-context built into the “Title” with examples of Word, Evernote, Powerpoint and so forth.
What I do here is I also add a priority if you will, to the project. “1: “ denotes my most important projects, “2: “ the next most important and then everything is in “3: “.
This way, when I pull up sit at my computer ready to work and pull up my @Computer list, I can sort by the priority projects and then I can scan just the @Computer next actions in that set to determine what within those I have the time and energy for right now.
That means, I am focusing on @Computer tasks for my most important projects all the time.