Ensuring that your productivity system is correct is important if you want keep the actions flowing through it. Like deciding if a project is in fact a context.

Many of you have been reading my post on using projects in Todoist. Up to now I’ve always used projects in Todoist as lists. They’re just placeholders for actions. What I’m starting to see now though is that some of my projects might in fact be better used as contexts.

This week I listened to Mike Vardy’s Productivityist podcast and caught up with two episodes focusing on context and their application in productivity systems. It made me look more closely at my own projects in Todoist. I singled out two projects that I think are better suited to being contexts, reading and writing.

My reading project is just a list of chapters from the books I’m reading on a daily basis. Breaking books into chapters means that I can schedule different books in for different days. Reading isn’t a project, it’s a label to describe a particular action. My writing project is essentially a list of ideas for the blog, but writing isn’t a project. Writing describes the action. Clearly something is amiss here.

A context can be defined as the circumstances that surround a particular event. In the case of David Allen’s GTD framework, a context is a label that you put on your actions so that you know two things:

  1. What you need to get that action done
  2. When that action can be done

When I look at my projects I see them differently now. In the case of reading and writing, they’re not projects, they are in fact contexts. They are used to describe the circumstances in which I can finish their associated actions. I read a chapter of a book first thing in the morning as it’s when I’m most receptive. Writing tends to happen in the morning as well. I’m just more swithched on during this time. So not only do these contexts describe the action but also when I schedule them in the day as well.

I can’t recommend enough that you continually review your productivity workflow. Finding that point where everything falls into place isn’t going to happen overnight or even come boxed up and ready to go in a system like GTD. It takes time to see what works for you and what doesn’t. After taking out the reading and writing projects from Todoist, I’m starting to see a change in how I view projects in Todoist. I’m still digesting Erlend Hamberg’s 15 minute guide to GTD and there’s a few more changes that I’m going to try with projects in Todoist, but that folks is for another day.