There are a few problems that have been nagging me about my task lists:
- Not having the right energy at the right time
- Losing perspective over what I should be doing right now for maximum effect
- Focusing too much on some areas of my life at the exclusion of others
- Having task list contexts that are not effective
The first problem seems to be answered in a few books I am aware of, like The Power of Full Engagement, and Two Awesome Hours (which I just purchased and have yet to read).
The second and third ones I think are born of the last problem, which is in regards to my use of OmniFocus 2 for all of my task tracking. I have pretty obvious @contexts like @home (for chores), @kitchen (for cooking), @store, @work, but then also non-location based ones like @read (for paper or digital books), @macbook (for really anything, it’s too general), and @watch (for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Tivo, or technical videos online).
MY GOAL: I want to feel like a well rounded person. I want to go through let’s say 2 or 3 days and feel like all the tasks that I accomplished contributed to all the major areas of my life. I’m a computer programmer, and look forward to the weekend so I could learn some new technology, but frequently Monday rolls around again and all I’ve done is cook, clean the kitchen, vacuum the floors, laundry, cleaned the bathroom. I seem to think that all of that is preparatory work to being able to settle back with a clear mind and be able to pour myself 100% into a project. But that’s the subject of another post, or a therapy session.
Back to having proper @contexts; for a while now, I’ve been trying to find some sort of better guidance around creating @contexts, but not really gotten an Aha! from anything. What is a perfect context that means “having enough energy, at a computer, on a non-recent project, while having an hour of uninterrupted time”??
My @contexts are just too generic- take the @watch for example. Technical videos and The Bachelor just shouldn’t belong in the same @context. And @macbook is also too generic. Half my life is on my computer, but I can’t have one @context for half of my life, and there are very different purposes for different computer tasks, so @macbook can’t be an effective @context.
As an experiment in just laying it all out on the table, making a mind map of everything that I have responsibility for, I did just that. My hope was that that exercise would be translatable to OmniFocus contexts, which would then be much more balanced overall and better segmented according to the ACTUAL areas of my life. Here are portions of what I came up with (using MindNode Lite):
As should be apparent, @contexts based on these categories would be much less location based, and more life area based. And watching technical videos online (@Professional:PersonalDev:WatchingVideos) will now be in a distinct @context than The Bachelor (@Recreation:TV:Tivo).
Next up: creating the OmniFocus @contexts based on this and figuring out how to track ‘balancedness’. Should each day’s set of planned tasks be one task from each of the main subdivisions in the mind map? Or something else? I’m thinking that some of these ‘leaf nodes’ should be tasks and some of them should be child contexts to store other tasks.