Sometimes it pays to ask a question. Oftentimes questions lead to answers and, occasionally, opportunities (more on this in a second). Recently I’ve found myself questioning Contexts and the way that they can best be used in a personal productivity system. I questioned them when sharing my own approach in a recent post and questioned them in recent Mikes on Mic’s episodes with David Allen, the creator of GTD, and Ken Case, the CEO of OmniFocus (my task manager of choice).
No idea what Contexts are? As Thanh Pham shared in his Getting Started With OmniFocus series:
A context is a “label” you can give a task that allows you to group tasks based on a tool, location, or people.
This is a valuable bit of information when creating tasks as it allows you to logically group actions. Over the years however, the importance of individual tools and locations have diminished as our technology has become more powerful. We can do more work in more places and there is tremendous overlap in the various devices we use to accomplish our work (for more on this, I suggest you read this post).
While I’ve found what works for me, I still do not believe that the dust has settled on the best way to move forward with Contexts. Our tools and our best practices are yet to fully adjust to modern technology. As someone who is always looking for a better way to make things happen, I was thrilled that the OmniGroup decided to start “The OmniFocus Setup” event with a group discussion on “Contexts: A group chat covering oddities and niceties” and was honored to be asked to help lead the conversation along with the aforementioned Thanh Pham.
I’m a strong believer that there’s no wrong way to use Contexts and OmniFocus has always excelled at allowing for various uses. My suggested best practice is to start with something that seems logical and fine tune from there until you find what works (even if that means using no contexts at all). In my case, this began with the straightforward approach from David Spark’s OmniFocus Screencasts and led to a far more boiled-down approach. This is what worked for me, but as you’ll often see, there are various effective approaches to Contexts.
I’m really looking forward to being a part of The OmniFocus Setup on January 31st. Our discussion helps kick off the day at 10:10am (the one-on-ones start at 9:30am). I hope to see you there and look forward to learning as much from the conversation (and the entire day, for that matter) as I can. With fellow guest speakers like David Sparks, Merlin Mann, Sven Fechner, Kourosh Dini Tim Stringer, Dinah Sanders, Thanh Pham and even Mike Vardy, I expect it to be an educational day for anyone looking to up their OmniFocus and personal productivity games.