GTD Context in 3 steps

GTD Contexts Mind Like Water GTD Context in 3 stepsI often get questions from intrigued people about what GTD context I use to manage Next-Action lists for all aspects of my life, at home and at work.
Context is critical to determine the tools, people or location involved to carry our Next-Actions very effectively as soon as you are in that “context”

David Allen in his book Getting Things Done provides a great baseline of Context. Context are very personal, and below are key GTD contexts you will most likely adopt. Using other type of “contexts” such as @urgent, @today, @mustDo, @projectA likely mean you aren’t trusting yet your GTD system and reverting to other time management techniques. A good indicator that you have the right list of Context is when you aren’t changing them often and you most likely won’t have more than 20 context.

#1: Context: By Regular Locations

@0-Garden (yes… I do have my garden maintenance activities tracked here!)
@0-Home (including chores!)
@0-Office
@0-On the move (*) (I use this one to track items I need to get while out and about, such as buying groceries or supplies, etc.)

(*) I use this format in order to allow easier synchronisation and display regardless of the tools I use to access my lists (such as Blackberry, Outlook, iPhone, etc.). Also watch for number of characters used in your Context items if you are replicating to cloud services such as ToodleDo otherwise they will be truncated, 17 characters I think…

(To capture anything I’ve identified while on the move, from my mobile device)

#2: Context: By Tools Needed

@0-Computer offline (for activities I can do while out of internet connection such as on trains)
@0-Computer online
@0-HomeOnline
(for my online activities at home, I usually don’t browse much the Internet from the office)

#3: Context: By Important, Frequent People & Activities

Context: by key People, Teams, Suppliers

In those lists I usually have agenda items, whether for my family (yes even to discuss with my wife!) or key individuals or teams even at work. For example:

@Agendas-Finance
@Agendas-HR
@Agendas-Procurement
@Agendas-My Boss
@Agendas-My Boss’ peers
@Agendas-PMs (you can have a few of those for each Project Manager of current key projects)
@Agendas-My Key vendors/account managers
@Agendas-Team A
@Agendas-Wife
@Agendas-Parents
@Agendas (I use this one for items relating to other people I haven’t specifically a context for)

Context: by Regular Meetings

@Agendas-Staff Meeting (used to track agenda items for my Weekly Staff Meeting)
@Agendas-O3s-Direct1 (to track items and activities I need to discuss with my Directs, I have one of those for each of my Directs)

Context: by Activities

@0-Calls
@0-CallsFamily (I separate the Work and Family @Calls contexts to help me focus on my family)
@0-ReadReviews (for items I need to review or read. Note that this is not to allocate time for reading materials but identify what needs to be read. I include both work materials as well as my list of recommended books to read! I allocate some reading time in my daily schedule for the actual reading)
You can also create  @0-ReadReviews-High (for must read items such as business reports, documents by the team, etc.), @0-ReadReviews-Interest, (for magazines, etc.) @0-ReadReviews-Leisure (for bedtime reading or any spare moment)


I use the Getting Things Done Outlook Add-in from Netcentrics to help me manage my work and life (you can buy it here), coupled with a Blackberry, this works great – also compatible with iPhone and ToodleDo

So what GTD Contexts do you use? Let me know how it’s working for you. Leave your comments in the box below.

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