Cruise Control with GTD Contexts & Power.ME

Driving at high speed

This blog has already played host to some posts about using Power.ME within a GTD system (GTD stands for Getting Things Done, a book by productivity guru David Allen). One of the most interesting aspects of the GTD system is the idea of to-do lists based on context. Allen says, “[T]he best way to be reminded of an ‘as soon as I can’ action [or task] is by the particular context required for that action—that is, either the tool or the location or the person needed to complete it. For instance, if the action requires a computer, it should go on an ‘At Computer’ list” (p. 143).

This is exactly the sort of thing Power.ME filters were designed for, and you don’t have to use the GTD system to benefit from the idea. We all work and in dozens of contexts, and trying to remember all the things that need to be done while running errands—even though those things may come from 10 different projects—is painful. If you’re like me, it’s more than that: it’s impossible. Having a context list of tasks for Running Errands solves that problem. Once it’s on a list, you don’t need to focus on remembering and can instead free up your mind to consider other, more important things than data storage. With remembering tasks on cruise control, you can keep your mind running smoothly throughout the day instead of slowing down, stopping, and starting up again once you’ve remembered whatever it was you were supposed to.

The great thing about Power.ME filters is that you can have all the context-related lists you need without having to keep track of the lists. They’re all in Power.ME.

How It Works

Say I have 5 things I need to get while running errands.

  • Buy cold medicine
  • Drop off a library book
  • Drop off some paperwork for my CPA
  • Fill my car’s gas tank (Ouch—my wallet!)
  • Buy Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

These tasks could all be a part of disparate projects: Home, personal, work-related, study-related, etc. I still want them organized into the Power.ME projects I’ve set up for them, but I also want them all on a Running Errands list.

So I’ll click or tap Add on the Power.ME Toolbar and select Filter from the options I see there. Then I’ll type Running Errands into the Filter Name and either click Save or tap Done. The new filter will then appear in the Task Filters list of my Home Menu.

To attach that filter to the five errands I have to run, I just have to click or tap each task’s title or cell (not the checkbox icon next to it) and click or tap the Filter field of the Task Details. Then I can select the Running Errands filter, save my choice, and know that my memory will be moving forward on cruise control. When I want to see my Running Errands list, I just have to open the Task Filters list and click or tap on the Running Errands filter—then Ill be able to see all my errand tasks.

I can even attach more than one filter to a task. So if my CPA and I both have a minute to talk when I drop off the paperwork, if I’m using a mobile device I can switch to view my CPA filter-list instead of my Running Errands list and I’ll be able to see my paperwork task and the task that has a list of questions I need to ask him. This way I can get even more done without having to keep everything in my head all the time.

How do you use Power.ME filters?

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