The adventures of a GTD follower – my contexts

This is a series of posts I intend to begin about all my GTD-related stuff. I would like to write here about things I discover while I am following this path, about how I set up my systems, or about other interesting approaches that I found or integrate. All GTD-related, you know…

So, today I was thinking to start writing about how I set up my contextx/topics and how I use them. As I already told you, I am pretty digitized, meaning I don’t do paper so much, so everything is happening in my laptop, or, to be more precise, in my Thinking Rock java-based application. It seemed to do the job for me, and it still does. As I recently saw on their page they are trying to monetize this application by developing some paid modules. It’s ok, as long as the modules are needed and provides good functionality, I have no problem paying for it. But now, let’s get back to our contexts / topic.

When you input data in Thinking Rock, you have the option to pick a topic. This is like a general area where the thought might fit in. I started with just a few, like Management and Familiy and end up with this list:

  • Management
  • Programming
  • Software Maintenance
  • Personal Development
  • Family
  • Holidays
  • Sociall Life
  • Bills To Pay (yeap)
  • Blogging
  • Opportunities
  • Personal
  • Recurring Actions

Notice the last one, Recurring Actions, this was just added as a trick to manage any recurring activity. Since Thinking Rock does not have the ability to handle recurring data as all, and since I needed this type of functionality, I twisted a little the program to fit my needs.

From all the topics, at least three are related to my day-to-day job: Management, Programming and Software Maintenance. But I soon found out that Software Maintenance can also be related to my Mac in a non-business way, just to keep it clean, to search or program software updates, and so on. Opportunities is a topic that I use also for both my personal and my business life… It happens pretty often that I just find out about a new thing that could prove beneficial to me, like a social meeting or a new gadget launch, so I put it there, because it would be a yes/no decision that I should make about that. Bills To Pay, I always want to have a neat situations of my bills, so I prefer to always have a separate topic on that. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.

Now, my context, this is something else. Here’s how they look:

  • @Home
  • @Office
  • @Computer
  • @On-line
  • @Errands
  • @Phone
  • @Meetings

The only thing that seem to overalp is the Computer/On-line context. I use this because I try to separate the on-line activity from the plain, simple computer-related activity. For me, on-line is excellent, but it can be a source of distraction sometimes, so I try to have activities like: photo archive management, writing, or financial management only in a @Computer context. There are situations when I even diconnect from web where I have something that needs to be done @Computer.

The rest is pretty self-explanatory: I need to have lists for my errands, and also I need to separate my activites related to meetings. I always try to have a meeting set up before, and usually I use a mind map like this one. Feel free to download this [download#1] if you think it suits your needs.

Well, this is pretty much it. For me, this works, and the combinations of topics and contexts are covering almost every aspect of my activity. Feel free to share your GTD experience with contexts and topics here.

Oh, if I will not be distracted by something extremely new and exciting, I think the next episode in this series will be about weekly reviews…

[tags]GTD, productivity, journal, GTD contexts[/tags]

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