I had two problems with doing straight out-of-the-book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity(aff). While I loved the idea of getting everything down into a trusted system, I found I was overwhelmed with the sheer number of things on my action lists. I also found that when I was in a physical space where more than one context applied, I was unable to decide what I should be doing next.
I ran across an article over at LifeHack.org recently about wanting attention back:
“I do know this – constantly deciding over and over and over what now is going to get my attention is draining my productivity as surely as thousand little cuts would drain my blood. And it’s just as serious.”
This is exactly what I felt like with multiple contexts available to me. How was I to decide what to do? This led to a lot of unintentional multitasking as I wondered which of the tasks in the contexts available to me matched my energy or goals best. A better strategy for me would have been to just pick a context and work it until it was done, or until the time allotted ran out. I would not have wasted so much energy deciding what to do next.
I still have this problem to a certain extent with the hybrid of Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management (aff) and Getting Things Done. I still use contexts, but I use them on my closed lists just as a way to group items together, or to eliminate them from my vision if the equipment needed isn’t available. I am getting better at just picking the list with the most items on it and start plowing through. It seems to work, even if I am conscious that I may be doing less-than-critical stuff.
I’ll be thinking about this more in the coming days…next week look for the debut of my own hybrid form that I have been using to keep me on track.