Mein hybrider workflow: Weekly Review & Preview

Wir leben in einer hybriden Welt. Ohne Internet und digitale Endgeräte kommen wir nicht mehr aus. Gleichzeitig sind wir von Geburt aus analoge Wesen, die durch Lesen und Handschrift zu sich kommen.
Hier erkläre ich die Einrichtung eines hybriden Systems – eine Verfeinerung meiner Gedanken, die ich bereits bei Lars Bobach posten durfte.
Im Folgenden soll es um das Herzstück eines jeden Produktivitätssystems gehen – die weekly preview, wie das im GTD genannt wird: In meinem digitalen System Nozbe erstelle ich hierdurch eine Priority-List für die kommende Woche.
Michael Hyatt nennt einen ähnlichen Prozess in seinem Full-Focus-Planner (FFP) „weekly preview“. Wie spielt beides so zusammen, dass sich beide Arbeitsweisen, analog und digital sich gegenseitig unterstützen?
In meinem workflow beginnt und endet alles analog – weil wir von Geburt aus analoge Wesen sind.

1. Analog Klarheit schaffen (FFP): Wo stehe ich? (Weekly Big Three)1

Zunächst der Blick zurück: Wie ist die vergangene Woche gelaufen? Habe ich meinen Quartalszielen angemessen Zeit eingeräumt?

1.1 After Action Review der weekly big three

  • Habe ich meine Weekly Big Three erreicht?
  • Was habe ich aus dem Verlauf gelernt?
  • Welche losen Enden liegen herum?

1.2 Durchsicht FFP-Seiten der Woche2 mit Übertrag in die Nozbe-Inbox

Am Ende der analogen Review der vergangenen Woche fließt alles Offene und nicht Abgeschlossene in die digitale Inbox meines Taskmanagers. Als digitaler hub ist er ein idealer Ort alles zu erfassen – und Papier wird gescannt oder die nicht abgeschlossenen Aufgaben einfach abgetippt.

1.3 Alle (digitalen) Inboxes leeren

Den FFP kann ich nun beiseite legen, denn die nächste Phase ist komplett digital und spielt sich in der Nozbe-App ab – vorzugsweise auf meinem iPad: Ich arbeite alle digitalen Inboxes durch3 und ordne sie in Nozbe ihren entsprechenden Projekten zu:

2. Digital auf den aktuellen Stand kommen

Die klassische weekly review nach GTD

Im Mittelteil spielen die digitalen tools ihre Stärken aus: Verknüpfung mit allen Cloud-Speichern, Volltextsuche, Synchronization über mehrere Geräte.
Im Laufe der klassischen weekly-review-Schritte entsteht in Nozbe eine Priority-List: Sie enthält nicht alle möglichen nächsten Schritte aller meiner laufenden Projekte, sondern eine wohl überlegte Auswahl – mehr dazu in meinem Artikel darüber. 

3. Analog: Überblick für die kommende Woche bekommen

Das große Finale ist dann die analoge Wochenplanung im FFP4 – damit das Wichtige sich zeigen kann und nicht von der Vielfalt des Digitalen übertönt wird:
– Was sind meine nächsten Weekly Big Three?
– Und was gibt es sonst noch für dringliche und wichtige Aufgaben in der kommenden Woche zu erledigen?
Dazu übertrage ich zunächst die Aufgaben für die kommende Woche und die Priority-List aus Nozbe in den FFP:

3.1 dringlich: terminierte Aufgaben aus Nozbe übertragen @Datum

Ich übertrage alle terminierten Aufgaben der kommenden Woche von Nozbe in die Liste im FFP unter „Step 4“: Was und wann. Dazu schalte ich in Nozbe in die Kalender-Übersicht.

3.2 wichtig: Priority-List aus Nozbe übertragen @Kategorie

In der Nozbe-Priority-List stehen alle wichtigen Aufgaben für die kommende Woche – sie übertrage ich unter die terminierten Aufgaben. Statt ein Datum unter „When“, trage ich dort nun den Kontext der Aufgabe ein – dazu fokussiere ich mit den Kategorien-Filtern die jeweiligen Kontexte und kann diese so nach Kontext sortiert in den FFP übertragen.
Da ich mit dem Konzept der „idealen Woche“ das Aufgaben-Batching übe, weiß ich durch diese Sortierung bereits, an welchem Wochentag ich welche Kategorien batche.

4. analoge Priorisierung: Die Weekly Big Three

Nachdem in den digitalen Schritten 2 & 3 sehr kleinschrittig alle aktiven Projekte und ihre Aufgaben im Fokus waren, ist es nun Zeit die Bildschirme ruhen zu lassen und wieder aus der größeren Perspektive fokussiert auf meine Lebensbereiche zu schauen – das Wichtige, meine Quartalsziele.
Dafür entscheide ich nach dem Eisenhower-Prinzip, welche Weekly Big Three aus Jahreszielen oder sonstigen Projekten sich für die kommende Woche ergeben:
– Die Quartalsziele sind quasi geborene Big Rocks.
– Aber vielleicht haben sich aus den bisherigen Schritten ergeben, dass es gerade dringende Projekte gibt, die auch meine Aufmerksamkeit erfordern. Dazu schlage ich den „Monthly Calendar“ im FFP auf – die Übersicht zeigt mir auf einen Blick, was noch anliegt!

Ich bestimme aus den Quartalszielen (= wichtig!) und evtl. aus ein bis zwei dringlichen Projekten meine Weekly Big Three und Outline die nächsten Schritte, die zu ihrer Erreichung führen – so entstehen die Daily Big Three für die kommende Woche.

Step 5 im FFP der Weekly Review
Step 5 im FFP der Weekly Review

Implementierungshilfe: Nozbe-How

Eine Zusammenfassung inklusive alle Schritte der Durchführung finden sich hier in einer Nozbe-How-Vorlage!

Wie spielen bei dir digitales und analoges Arbeiten zusammen? Hinterlasse gerne hier deine Ideen und Anmerkungen!


  1. = Step 1-3 im FFP der Weekly Preview. 
  2. Notizen, Tageskalenderseiten. 
  3. Evernote, E-Mail und Nozbe am Schluss, da sich hier alles gesammelt hat. 
  4. = Step 4 im FFP der Weekly Preview. 

Recommended reading: Free to Focus

Getting focus in a noisy world: I was honored to read a digital pre-release of the new book by Michael Hyatt Free to Focus – I can only say: wow! The new Book of Michael Hyatt is the missing link of theory behind his „Full Focus Planner“ (FFP) – apart from the ideas of Goal-receiving, which is explicated in bis books „Your best Year Ever“ and „Living Forward“ – each of them still worth reading and the backbone of the FFP.

Doing the right things instead of „Getting it all done“ – the concepts behind such powerful tools like „The ideal week“, „The Daily Big Three“ and the daily rituals were explained to show the treasure they contain – a guide to achieving more by doing less.
May be the necessarily supplement and contemporary extension of the „GTD“-approach!

The officially release is at April 9 but it’s already a top bestseller on Amazon! Michael Hyatt is giving away over $498 in bonuses if you pre-order the book today. Details at FreeToFocusBook.com

Full Focus Planner and Nozbe: How to run a hybrid-system

Interaction between the Full Focus Planner and Nozbe

I tried to work completely paperless for years – but bought in the end of 2017 the Full Focus Planner: I’m a hybrid now!
Michael Hyatt, the originator of the handy Full Fokus Planner (FFP), told us how his hybrid system works.
I will show how my hybrid system works and how i use the benefits of both worlds.

1. Full Focus Planner: Advantages of a paper based planning tool

On paper i can work distraction free. To write something physically down deepens my commitments. Even transferring the calendars by hand ut my soul well. Of course that costs time – but I also have the good feeling to have an overview of the next quarter. The transfer – whether in the monthly calendar or on the daily page – I have learned to understand as a helpful exercise and not annoying repetition.
And for me as an 47 year old it’s like return home.
For all other benefits of paper i recommend the article from Erin Wildermuth.

2. Nozbe: Advantages of a digital Projectmanager

The advantages of a digital system are well known:
– All the stuff is searchable. In Nozbe you can set easily create a searchhistory.
– I can set reminders.
– Collaborate with others.
– Integration of my favorite online-tools (Evernote, dropbox…).

3. How FFP and Nozbe interact together

But now to the test: How can these different systems work together and support each other?
In general:
– I use the FFP to reach my yearly goals and to keep focus for that particular day
Nozbe is the base where i do my daily tasks.
And here is how it works alltogether:

3.1 weekly workflow: identifying my Weekly Big Three and break them down to get a next action list for achieving my goals

Backbone of my planning is the weekly review.
Formerly i went through my projectlist in Nozbe. Now i start with the weekly review pages in the FFP. This helps my to polish my goals for this year. I review my „Annual Goals“ and rewrite the next steps on the first pages of the FFP. Then i choose my new weekly big three. I break them down further in 2-3 subtasks, so i get small pieces i can accomplish the next week. In nozbe i have for each goal one project. All goal related projects are held together with the label „!goals2019“. In nozbe i update these projects first to sure that my weekly big three are on my priority list for the next week. I set the filter „!goals2019“ so i can see only the these goal related tasks. I give them the tag „#Daily Big Three“.
After revising my goals i do my weekly review in nozbe: that’s keep my focus sharp during rework my projects. In all active projects i chose one ore more next actions (i mark them with the star). After that the priority list has become a next-action-list for the following week.

3.2 daily workflow: make it happen „#today“ with the priority list

The daily exercise is to transform these next-action-list to a priority list again. It needs only a few steps using the amazing filter functions in Nozbe – so the fun begins:

3.2.1 The Urgent

Each morning i set the filter of my priority list to „due today“: I check them – are all this tasks really due today? If not i delete the due date- the task will stay on the list because of the star. All really due today tasks get now the tag „#today“.

3.2.2 The Right

I remove this filter and set it on „!goals2019“: i now choose out of the three to nine goal related tasks my „#Daily Big Three“ and give them the tag „#today“.
Now i set the filter „#today“ – and i have a list of urgent and important tasks – a priority list!

3.2.3 Other Tasks

If my calendar left enough space for some other tasks, i tag them too- nozbe shows me the time i will need to accomplish them! First i filter the tasks without duration and estimate a time for each of them.
At least i structure my day with my daily-routine-tasks at begin and end.
Ready for take off!

3.2.4 Get Focus – Doing – Staying Tuned
FFP: Getting Focus

Now i copy these tasks in my FFP – even my calendar appointments. On one simple page in the FFP i can overlook my day completely to get focus.

Nozbe: Doing

But the main work i do out of the Nozbe app:
– If i want to start with my daily big three first, i choose simply in addition to „#today“ the label filter „!goals2018“.
– If i want to start with the urgent task, i use in addition the due date filter „today“.
During the day i work out of my nozbe priority list.

Stay Tuned

In the end of the day i compare the nozbe-„#?today“-list with the daily page in FFP and do so a little day review.

4. Summery: The workflow

Here you find my implementation in a nozbe-how-template!

Sticking with my Routines!

In the movie „Matrix“ Morpheus tells Neo about the touchstone of wisdom:

There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

More and more i have to internalize all i’ve learned in the last year. To learn new habits. Rituals are the best ways to reprogram myself.

1.Weekly Review

The importante of this GTD-Ritual is a main insight for me. I explained my understanding of this productivity-backbone before months. To review my trusted system regulary every week remains my main task!

2.Morning Routine

Another piece of gold i found last year is my morning routine:
– to practice of good habits (e.g. healthy breakfast, meditation early in the morning)
– to reorder the tasks in Nozbe according to the places (contexts) i will be (and to redefine my context list )
– to focus on what’s really important using my personal leadership board
NOT to begin my day checking emails

3.Evening Ritual

The evening ritual helps me to complete the day:
– writing my diary
– cleaning my inboxes (especially emails)

Conclusion

Living conditions can change.
Goals need to be readjusted.
But this I think this three points are solid stepstones on the way of life.
Or – to quote another famous movie:

The same procedure as every year!

email: take control over the chaos

motivation

When the first smartphones occurred in my life, I had the feeling: now I am writing emails as formerly SMS! In the beginning I found that great and was proud to answer emails directly. It flattered my ego, when I heard:

„you are so good accessible!“

But- over time this silly use of email dominated my life. All day – often before standing up in the morning – the red notifications called me:

„that’s important – read me – react – now!“

Sounds familiar? Then it’s necessary to win back your life, reject false habits and assign emails the place they belong to!
A sentence at the beginning of the worth reading book by Klaus Raab „we are online – where are you?“ woke me up:

emails – the pneumatic post system of modern communication, because it‘s no communication in real time …

Wow! I was caught in the wrong beliefs – wrong beliefs nurtured by the expectations of my profession:

wrong beliefs: reachable – available

The pastor is always at work – and always reachable!
This sentence I heard in my professional training. It leads to a fundermantal misunderstanding.  reachable does not mean available! 
– if someone sends me an email, it reaches me through my email-inbox: I was reachabel.
– if someone calls me and speaks on my voice mail, he has me reached.
– if someone sends me a message – an SMS, a WhatsApp or by faceook-messanger – then this message reaches me.
 Availability is something else: I’m available, if it‘s possible for me to take up the phone, when my phone rings. 
Emails the other hand reach me. They must not immediately be answered. Emails are like letters reaching me by post. The short „checking“ of emails will cost me only unnecessarily time and energy – I do not look every 30 minutes to my mailbox at home.

the medium is the message

It’s my duty as pastor to be reachable and to respond in a reasonable period. The period based on the communication channel, which is used:
– calls: like Face-to-Face-communication – probably the matter is urgently! If e.g. a undertaker needs my feedback to nail a Date for a funeral, he calls me.
– short messages: short messages work in real time too – but in my experience they are rarely really urgent.
– emails: because email communication is no communication in Real Time, they can actually never be urgent. Unfortunately they are often used for urgent affairs. Colleagues, looking urgently for a substitute, questions unfortunately often by email other colleagues – probably because with an email at the same time several pastors can be achieved simultanely.
– letters: letters can never be urgently. A letter needs maximum three days to arrive.

These days, you don’t have to treat emails like traditional letters. Every recipient cares only about the concrete information, not the background noise that simply hampers their efforts of getting to the chase. #10stepsbook

differentiation the communication channels: changing habits

To regain my life again. Not to get dictated from the flut of information, what ist now urgent. I do need to develop new habits. But first i have to clarify what significance what kind of communication has:
– telephone calls have for me high priority. I go immediately to the ringing telephone – or as soon as I have free time, for example directly after a conversation I check my mailbox and call back.
– email: can not be urgent. the multiple „check“ of emails on the smartphone fills my head only with unnecessary information to which I can not respond appropriately. Therefore i reserve 2-3 periods a day in which i process emails: at the later morning (after i did my Big Rocks), in the afternoon (precaution: maybe somebody used an email for „urgent things“) and evening as part of my evening-ritual (to make sure i can sleep).
 That way i determine the time emails get – and will not from the emails determined!

processing emails: switch in the email mode

email – ready – go: inbox zero

In the film „over the top“ the trucker Lincoln Hawk before his competitions brings himselfe in the right mental moode for it by turning his cap backwards: this ritual transformed him in a maschine. The same way we can process emails:

it’s evening. the work is done  now , it is time to process the emails!
In the next hour i’ll do nothing else – only achieve my goal: Inbox Zero! I follow the same system, i always follow – the „getting-things-done method“ (GTD) of David Allen. Processing emails follows the same rules as the „processing“ any other inbox:

1. rule: top down – touch it once

I start top-down: I do not glance through nor go at wish. I deal with each mail only a single time and decide what to do next.

2. rule: what is it-decision -2 minutes per mail

Tell yourselfe the basic question:  requires this email an action of mine? The following responses to an email requires less than 2-minutes – you can  immediately  do it:
 1.no
– it’s spam or other email garbage?? then off in the  spam / trash folder!
– it is a info-mail, a Newsfeed or something like this? Normally appropriate filters can avoid that these type of mail get into here! You can read this information later, because they are not urgent. Do you work with an email folder system, move this type of mail in the folder „reading later“. I prefer Evernote, there these mails goes – i deal with this kind of information, when i have time – in the waiting room at the doctor, on a train ride, …  someday / maybe .
 2.yes 
– I can answer a email immediately, within two minutes, then do it now. Briefly – I write no novels.
– Or I forward / delegate : a question for a baptizism – and i‘m not responsible? I redirect to the competent colleagues – that is not my project!
The email applies to one of my projects, but i can do nothing: I forward the mail to the competent person – with „BCC“ -kopie to my GTD app Nozbe. There this request becomes a part of the corresponding project with the context „waiting for“ + „name of the responsible person“ so that I keep track. During the weekly review i will meet this task again.

3. if it takes longer … into the „trusted system“!

If an email relates to one of my own projects, it can become „reference material“ – and will stored in Evernote1. Requires the email from me one or more actions, i will transform the mail to a task of an existing project or the topic of the email will become a project themselfe:
3.1 the email concerns me directly and belongs to an existing project: 
I send this type of email per nozbe-email-adress to my GTD system, add the context and possibly the due date. The email client i use generates a link for each email so it’s possible to store this link together with the email text in my GTD program: so I can answer the email interacting nozbe and email client easily: the link turns me to the correct email in the archive folder. During my weekly review i will meet this task again.
3.2 the email concerns me directly, but i’ve still no existing project:
I mail this email to my GTD app, there the mail becomes a new project. Alternative: I sent the email to Evernote and use it as a reference material – in Nozbe i can generate a project out of the Evernote-Note and the related tasks. My GTD app nozbe has – as well as Evernote – an email address.

developing new habits

  1. Make an appointment with yourself at which times you want to process emails a day.  two to three periods  should totally suffice. Stick to this appointment! This helps:
  2. Delete the email app from your smartphone! Or less radically: move the email app from the home screen out of visibility – and  turn off the notifications as well as the news-push.
  3. Check no emails – process them as described above.  processing: touch it once! 
  4. Largest reward: more time for your important things!  If you notice that your new approach helps you to gain more time for your really important things – this will motivate you to stick with your new email habits.
    Here you will find a summary as nozbe-how template.

  1. In nozbe i can attach this Evernote-Note to an project. 

Shit in – shit out

weekly review matters!

A friend of mine from the computer science industry once said:

shit in, shit out. As simple as that!
In fact:
– I do not care for my system, I do not trust the system.
– and: if I do not think at least a week in advance, I will sink in the stress of everyday life.
So every week a do it again:
– I look back at the last week: is there anything i missed?
– A Check my Waiting-for-list: did not someone contact me in time?
– I look forword on the next two weeks in advance (these projects come on top of my nozbe-labeled list „Big Rocks“).
– I look on on my personal-leadership-board to focus on my goals – the other side of my Big Rocks
– i review my project-list: is everything finde?
– at last my my someday-maybe-list: can i do something new?
Think once a week – so I do not have to think about it during the coming week!
If you don’t regularly review your system, tasks, projects and goals, you’ll quickly start drifting aimlessly reacting only to what others have planned for you.“

An alle Heimatlosen

Brief zu Totensonntag

Unruhig ist unser Herz, bis es Ruhe findet in dir. (Augustinus)

Unser ganzes Leben lang sind wir auf der Suche nach unserem Zuhause.
Zuhause – Ankommen. Bei Menschen, die uns so lieben und annehmen, wie wir sind. In deren Gegenwart wir uns heil fühlen und ganz. Uns Heimat geben.
– Vielleicht gehören wir zu den glücklichen Menschen, die das bereits als Kind von ihren Eltern erfahren durften.
– Andere finden dieses Zuhause, diese Menschen, erst später in ihrem Leben.
Doch wann wir auch diesen Menschen begegnen auf unserer Reise zwischen Geburt und Tot – irgendwann ist der Moment gekommen, an dem sich unsere Wege wieder trennen, wir uns von einander verabschieden müssen.
Am Totensonntag gedenken wir dieser Menschen, die für uns Zuhause waren. Manche waren jahrzehntelang Teil unseres Lebens. Manche nur für kurze Wegabschnitte.
Dankbar blicken wir zurück auf das, was war. Auch wenn das weh tut. Zeigt der Schmerz doch, wie viel wir empfangen haben.
Mindestens einmal im Jahr dürfen wir uns trauen, uns auch diesem Schmerz zu stellen. In Gemeinschaft mit anderen, denen es genauso geht. Im Gottesdienst. Wir sind nicht allein. Gemeinsam tragen wir unsere Schmerzen vor Gott und ehren damit, was wir verloren haben.
Gemeinsam finden wir zu uns: Wir leben weiter. Und tragen das Schöne, das vergangen ist, mit uns. Ein kostbares Geschenk, das schmerzt und gleichzeitig wärmt.
Unser Herz schlägt weiter. Und weist uns unseren Weg. Auch wenn unser Kopf nicht weiß, wie es weiter geht und was der nächste Schritt ist.

Unruhig ist unser Herz, bis es Ruhe findet in dir. (Augustinus)

Unser Herz schlägt weiter – denn es hat Anteil an der Ewigkeit.
Und an dem Frieden Gottes, der höher ist als unsere Vernunft.
Einem Frieden, der tiefer ist als unsere Trauer; höher als unsere Fallhöhe; und weiter als unser Blickfeld.
Der Friede Gottes, unsere wahres Zuhause, woher wir alle kommen. Und der uns nie verlässt.
Der Friede Gottes sei mit euch allen!

Using Colors in Nozbe connecting the Horizons of Focus

try and error

I tried many many times to find a meaningful use case for the colors in Nozbe:
– I gave each Areas of Focus a color (e.g. violet for work in general, red for „pastor“, blue for „friend“ and so on.
– I differentiated work and private projects through colors
– I pictures the course of each project with colors (e.g. red for projects that were stuck, yellow if all ist fine, green for completed projects)
But – all these tries weren’t satisfying.

Horizons of Focus: A new Approach

Yesterday i designed the GTD-Horizons of Focus simply in excel. On the 50.000 feet level i defined my values, in the levels lying underneath this values i tagged using a value-specific color. For example on 50.000 feet i defined the value „family“, this card gets the yellow label „family“. This label reoccured on the other levels to represent the connection of this Horizon with the value.

The Areas of Focus are the pivot point, where this overview in excel must pass over to my Projektmanagemantsystem Nozbe. But how?

Labels and colors in Nozbe to bridge the gap

To bridge the gap between the big picture, the personal leadership-board, and the concrete projects and tasks in Nozbe (personal management) i use labels and colors:

labels with a „#“ stand for my areas of Focus.


Reviewing weekly my projects i use this labels to focus on my goals.

colors represent these areas of focus too


So i have a nice overview, when i‘m planning my day every morning: to distinguish goal orientated tasks from others and to do first things first.

scanners are a man’s best friends

Or: How to take control over my documents

Once upon a time – i filled many file folders with paper … Did i ever look anything up of it?
I once asked the secretary of my bureau, what she do with the letters from the Church Office. „I put them in the folder“. – „If you are looking for this letter, how do you do it? Or is the letter just gone?“ – „Mh – it’s just gone.“
An honest answer. So i stick to my practice which i develop as a habit for several years now – and scan …
As i wrote in an earlier post, i have at any time everything with me what i may need. And i’m able to find in a very short amount of time what i need. That why i scan everything!

“Make a digital copy of all of the most important ones that you don’t want to lose or can still come in handy.“ #10stepsbook

office equipment and work flow

All i need is a document scanner and/or smartphone and an paper based filesystem A-Z.

use of document scanner and/or smartphone

I scan all my papers. The best day of my life was when i bought a document scanner. I remove the clips and the scanner scans front and back of a paper in a breeze. I use my smartphone to do the scan-job, if it is a book or something else i mustn’t destroy.
The scanned papers i take once a week to the office to the paper shredder – done!

Evernote or iCloud or Nozbe

I save the scans as searchable pdf. The file name begins with the date in the form: YYYY-MM-DD and normally i save this file in Evernote. Because my digital GTD-Manager Nozbe integrates with Evernote, i can use this pdf as reference material for a task or a project. Evernote has this amazing text search.
Very sensitive data i save in iCloud or even better in Nozbe because of its very heavy encryption.

contracts etc.

Only very few papers i archive in my A to Z file folder system. Follow the recommendation of David Allen to use these file folders i can simply fill without punching etc. Because if it’s not simple, it will take too longe time to maintain the archive.

the disadvantage: „what do we actually have…“

If you have everything at hand at any time and any place – your are a desired person. The danger is that your colleagues rely on you – that’s a burden and a joy 😉

Getting Focus through contexts

The using of contexts is one of the main differences between David Allens „Getting Things Done“ (GTD) and a common taskmanagementsystem. Contexts – or in a wider definition categories – prepare you to do the tasks through batching similar tasks throughout all projects.

“Categories are like having an extra weapon in your armory – they allow you to group tasks from different projects…“ #10stepsbook
What are these mysterious weapons?

What are contexts?

Projectlists are fine to gain an overview of your plans and commitments during the weekly review. But contexts let you come in a specifically mood oder situation, where you can do a specific sort of tasks.

GTD-Gamechanger-Methode

Contexts are discrete categories, which divide your great amount of tasks, so that you can really do them. According to David Allen is a context necessary tool, situation or person to do a task.

First Step of deciding what to do next

Consequentialy this is the first step to decide, what to do next. With a spade you cannot write an letter, nor with a pencil dig over your garden. Only when you have the right tool etc. right at hand, then you can do the job!
So the other criterias to decide what to do next, depend on the right context: Your amount of time – your energy level and at least your priorities. All starts with the fit to the right context.

development of contexts

So far so good – seems simple – but is it really?

Clearly distinctions till the 90s

In the former times you went to your workplace to do your job. Back at home you were private and/ or a family person. In that way the context were distinguished: At the computer in the bureau you could do your work. At home you could write – even on your personal computer – private letters and so on.

confusions through the smartphone-revolution

Today everything has changed because of the smartphone-revolution: we can e.g. write emails everywhere – even business or private ones. Today we are always online – we do not need to go to a specific place, to a computer connected with the internet.
The fact of this causes us to rethink the use of contexts. Here is my try:

How i use contexts

I’m experimenting with contexts for years how my context settings suited best to my life:

Tools and technology

I use the category „technology“ to do all the tasks I need a computer for: All what can i do with my smartphone, tablet or stationary computer.
Still i use the category „phone calls“ and „email“ yet to differenciate these tasks, because of their specific character: Phone calls can i do during car driving (with a headset of course) or when i have only a few minutes befor the next meeting. For processing emails i have reserved a few periods a day, when i want process them (not check!).

moods

Contexts also stand for a certain state of mind: When i want process my emails, i go in the email-processing-mood. Same with taking calls.
Thats why i have contexts defined for specific moods like „thinking“ or „reading/reviewing“.

Places

Places have still a importance: Some tasks i can only do in the “bureau“, others at „home“ or while “purchasing“.

Persons

If i meet colleagues, it is useful to know what i have to discuss or clarify with them. So for important persons in my job or private life i have a context with their „name“. Have i tasks delegated to someone else, i add the category „waiting for“ to this task – fortunately my GTD-software Nozbe allows me to give a task more than one context. For this example the name of the person in combination with „waiting for“.

Meetings

In my professional life meetings have an important role. Therefore all my tasks have the context of this type of meeting with them where i have this manner to discuss:
– Meeting with my pastor colleagues
– Presbyterium (the leading organ of a parish)
– committees
– groups like the visiting service and so on
The task gets the date of the meeting where i have to discuss this topic – very helpful to structure the themes of meetings which reoccuer regularily.

MITs

My most important tasks i want to complete today get the „MIT“-category. In Nozbe i can filter my priority list so that i can see these 1-3 MITs only – until i’ve completed them. I assign these category during my morning routine.

Conclusion

Thats the overview of my category-settings.
I experimented even with „Energy levels“ according to Sven Fechner which i added additionally to my tasks – but i found this a step to much, because i want define my tasks as easy as possible.
Contexts still are the weapon to get your stuff done. But a rethinking if your defined contexts still fit to your needs is necessary from time to time.