Monday, June 4, 2007


Where are the contexts, you ask? Where are all my @ signs? I will tell you now. I invite you to reach deep within your soul and examine your life. Think of all the spheres that you influence - learn how far your grasp is.

Close your eyes, let your mind go blank, then let it focus on the details of your inner-child, then let it go blank, then focus again on your inner child then let it go blank.

When you open your eyes you will realise that you have two contexts: you're either at home or at work. There is no need to be maintaining such foolishness as @MyMum'sPlace or @VideoStore. Go and wash your brain out!

Keep It Simple Stupid.

[I know, I know. You're a volunteer at your church. You coach basketball for under 9's. You own and operate a ski-lodge on the side and spend every waking moment managing it by webcam and loudspeaker. Right. You can have another context. Personally, I've also got @shops.]

If you're like me you work with a PC on at all times, you have a phone on your desk and a mobile in your pocket. There's a fax/photocopier a few feet away and your PC is constantly connected to some variety of broadband intermanet. There's an intranet, for what it's worth, and the entire company network is available to you.

There's no POINT to having contexts called @computer, @phone, @fax, @email. Those things are always available to you. An action called "call Scumbags R Us to follow up on rivet delays" isn't WAITING for the moment when the phone is available to you. The phone is right there. Any time that you're at work you could pick up that phone and call.

You could also be writing that email. You could be reading [this] blog. You could be sending a fax to a supplier or working on your CAD. All things are possible.

The point is that you must not let your contexts overlap. That's wastage. David Allen can be forgiven for having the contexts @computer and @internet, because he frequently travels and spends time at his laptop unconnected from the outside world. The rule is that a context is defined by the tools that are available at that moment in time.

If you're sitting at your desk at 9am wondering what context you are in - I'll tell you. You are in @computer, @internet, @CAD, @fax, @phone, @boss, @email... all at the same time.

Now. I'm not telling you what MODE you're in. Maybe you enjoy emailing first thing. Maybe you love Dilbert. But your CONTEXT is firmly @work. You have all your @work tools available.

1 comment:

Matthew Cornell said...

I tell clients they only need contexts if they have more than around 30 actions. Otherwise, keep a single list. In my case I've split actions and errands, but no other contexts. Really, it's what works for you. I agree about the importance of non-overlapping ones, though.