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18 Nov

Where are you @ and what can you do?


Datum: 2009-11-18 09:01

We can’t do every­thing we need to do every­where or any­where. For some things we need a com­put­er, for oth­ers access to a phone and some things can only be done in the office. 

We gain con­cen­tra­tion if we at each point in time only need to care about the tasks that are avail­able to work on where we are at the moment.

So, how do you deter­mine what can actu­al­ly be done here and now, from all the things you need to do?

The answer is spelled con­text”.

Some com­mon contexts


A com­mon con­text might be:

  • @Office – mean­ing, at the office” 
  • @Internet – when you have inter­net access
  • @Computer – when you are sit­ting by your computer
  • @Phone – when you have access to a phone (such as when you are stuck in traf­fic or when you are travelling)
  • @Errands – when you are mov­ing, like going to or from your lunch-break and you can buy a pack of paper clips while you’re @ it.
  • @Home – things you can do at home (since you prob­a­bly don’t have only work-relat­ed things on your to-to-list)
  • @Anywhere – when you have some­thing you need to think about, some deci­sion-mak­ing need­ing to be done, and just need to col­lect your thoughts.

Some less com­mon, but equal­ly smart, contexts

An acquain­tance of mine has a job that requires a lot of writ­ing, and is par­tic­u­lar­ly com­fort­able with writ­ing while on the train. Since he fre­quent­ly trav­els on assign­ments to Stock­holm, he puts some of his writ­ing-to-dos on hold until he is “@Train”.

I recent­ly met a woman who has cer­tain work assign­ments which are best com­plet­ed when she is alone at the office, that is, @PeaceAndQuiet. 

One of my clients has tasks that require coop­er­a­tion with a co-work­er in order to be done, which gives a con­text called @JoeSmith.

Tag your to-dos

Make sure to tag your to-do-tasks with the con­text you want and need to com­plete the task. 

If you keep your to-do-list on a piece of paper, note the con­text in the mar­gin so it’s easy to see, and maybe think of an abbre­vi­a­tion of the con­text so you can tag each task even easier. 

If you have your to-do-list in a dig­i­tal for­mat, it makes it even eas­i­er. For instance, in Out­look you can use the Category”-field for con­text when you cre­ate a new task.

What is your con­text, what can you do?

So, in your work­day, when you are about to choose the next task to work on, focus only on those tasks tagged with the con­text you are in right now. You will most like­ly be on a roll and there­fore grate­ful you were ahead of your­self and took the time out to tag all your tasks with appro­pri­ate contexts.

The beau­ty of hav­ing an elec­tron­ic to-do-list is that you eas­i­ly can sort your tasks by con­text and some­times even hide the tasks which are not rel­e­vant to the con­text you are in at the moment. This gives you a dynam­ic list that only shows you what is real­is­ti­cal­ly avail­able to do right at this moment, which means you don’t have to get dis­tract­ed or stressed out by tasks you need to do but can’t do any­thing about right now.

How do you do it?

What con­texts best describe and suit your work­day? Per­haps you also have some odd con­texts as a result of an unusu­al job? Leave a com­ment below.

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