thinking about contexts

January 23, 2009 | 6 Comments

As often happens with the new year, I find I have a renewed willingness to rethink everything. This ranges from the larger looming questions of life goals and purpose, all the way down the practical minutiae of how I structure my days and workflow.

In particular, I’ve been revisiting the contexts that I use in OmniFocus. For the most part, my primary contexts have been in place since I first read David Allen’s Getting Things Done: calls, errands, mac, home, office, and tinkering (which I’ve already written about).

My mac context gets crowded since it tends to become the default, and so much of what I do happens while sitting in front of my computer. I also tend to ignore the other contexts unless I have a red due date notifier nagging me. This is exactly something I want to move away from, as I don’t want to be driven by due dates.

While I haven’t solved all of this, I have been working on putting a few new contexts in place, and I’ll share some of them here in the new few weeks. Consider this an intro to a series on contexts — never mind the fact that one post in this series was written almost a year ago.

Until then, I’d like to hear from you:

  • What contexts do you use?
  • What unique contexts have you put in place the are helpful for you?
  • Lee

    Hi John,

    I like your “tinkering” context. This makes me think I might be able to use a similar approach.

    I currently have 10 context (2 of them could probably go away as I use them infrequently).

    1. Home
    2. Office
    3. Computer
    4. Linda (my lovely wife)
    5. Anywhere
    6. Calls
    7. Errands
    8. Agendas
    9. Waiting for
    10. Money

    I think the most unique for me is the “money” category as I can (since I use OF as well) get rid of unnecessary receipts by putting the info into OF for later entry to my computer money management program (iBank… and hopefully their soon-to-be released v4.0 will have an iPhone app).

  • http://www.simplymissional.com Chris Marlow

    I use writing and strategy contexts often!

    Chris Marlows last blog post..Taking H.E.L.P. on the road

  • Danny

    I just added a “Brain” context for actions such as “decide on…” and “think about…” I just couldn’t think of a better context to put these types of things into.

  • http://chadkmiller.wordpress.com Chad Miller

    I actually split it up into each area in my life.

    Misc.
    M.Ed. Program (portfolio/homework/research)
    Personal (House Projects/ThinkTank)
    Northwoods(Communication/lesson planning/long term/mentoring/observations/materials)
    Love Wins (org/work boots)
    CNX (materials/communication/planning)

    There is a shot of my projects/contexts…

    Chad Millers last blog post..Black Ice

  • http://www.macsparky.com David Sparks

    My goodness John you have a lot of items in the red. One promise I’ve always made myself is items only get due dates if they are actually due. No artificial due dates for me. As a result, it is rare for me to wake up with more than 5 or 6 actual items “due.”

    David Sparkss last blog post..OmniFocus Reviewed

  • John

    David,
    Thanks for the comment…always get to get perspective from someone outside my day to day ‘normalcy’. That day was higher than usual, but yeah, I usually have quite a few. I don’t have many hard and fast deadlines, so I use due dates to create priorities. As I’ve said before, I would like to get rid of due dates all together…but haven’t yet figured out how to do it!