What Contexts Should You Use?

Identify when, where, and how you’ll get things done.

One of the fundamental concepts in GTD is the context. As David Allen explains in Getting Things Done (2015) (emphasis his):

[The] best way to be reminded of an “as soon as I can” action is by the particular context required for that action—that is, either the tool or the location or the situation needed to complete it.

In other words, contexts are a way of marshaling the many things you need to do so you can focus on the few that you can take action on right now.

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You’ll Only Get the Most Important Things Done

Start with the important and finish with a clear conscience.

Do you ever feel frustrated that you didn’t get everything done on your list? It’s a common feeling for high achievers. We have grand ambitions for the day: Many books will be written about it, paintings will be painted to capture it, and statues carved to immortalize it. Songs will be sung in fire-lit taverns as steely-eyed men gather ’round to tell their tales. “Where were you that day?” “Lad, I was there. I knew him.”

You may not go so far as casting the movie adaptation, but admit it—you have plans for the day. You have plans for your plans. And yet the day never goes quite the way you want it to.

It’s frustrating. We had a vision in place, a dream we were working towards, and now it feels like it will never happen.

Take a deep breath. You’ll get there, even if you have to write the books yourself.

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Why We Scan: The Scanning Manifesto

We scan not to discard, but to keep.

My children love to help me scan. They love opening the lid to our ScanSnap S1500M and hearing it whir to life. They love putting papers into the document feeder (though I usually insist on doing that part), pushing the glowing blue button, and watching the scanned documents slide out the bottom. They’ve learned that if we’re doing a lot of scanning then it saves time and effort to bring the wastebasket over to the desk. They enjoy the whole process and occasionally fight over which one gets to help me. The only part they’re happy to leave to me is touching up and filing the scans in Evernote.

The other week, I grabbed a cutout heart my daughter had made in preschool. She shrieked and snatched it away from me. “No!” she cried, clutching it to her chest. “I don’t want to scan this! I like it!”

It seems I’ve taught them the mechanics of scanning, but they haven’t yet learned why we scan.

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Are You Putting First Things First in Your Life?

What does your schedule say about what’s important to you?

What were you doing one year ago today? (This question is easier to answer if you keep a journal.)

Since then, have you made any progress towards being the man you want to be? Read any good books? Switched to a more fulfilling job? Gotten out of debt? Or do your dreams seem all the farther away because here you are, a year later, and you’re no closer to living the life you dream of?

You’ve had three-hundred-sixty-five days to work on it. Eight thousand, seven hundred and sixy hours. Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes you could have used to shape yourself into the embodiment of your personal mission statement.

Did you seize the opportunity? Or did you sacrifice the wildly important on the altar of the whimsically immediate three-hundred-sixty-five times over?

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Focus Pocus LTD

There is time enough for everything in the course of the day if you do but one thing at once. But there is not time enough in a year if you do two things at a time.

Lord Chesterfield

5 Tools That Will Save You From Email

Picking the wrong tool can create more work than it solves

This is a hammer. It pounds nails. It’s very good at it.

Once upon a time I tried driving a screw into drywall with a hammer. I had the hammer close by, I didn’t want to go track down a screwdriver, so I ignored the threads and treated the screw like it was a nail. It went in surprisingly smoothly, all things considered. I was well-pleased that my laziness had paid off.

…for about five seconds. Then I discovered that the screw came back out even easier than it went in. I didn’t even need the hammer for that. In the end, my laziness just created more work. I had to track down a screwdriver and some drywall anchors (after learning what drywall anchors are) and finish the job the way I should have started it in the first place.

Email is a tool. It does some things well. If you misuse it, you’re going to cause more work for yourself.

Here are five tools you should be using instead of seeing every situation as a problem email can solve.

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock / cosma