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Tags and Contexts

Tags are words preceded by the # symbol 1 that helps you better describe any item of your organizational system. They allow you to group and find items that have common characteristics.

You can use them to define contexts or just to classify your things better.

Working with contexts

A context defines what you need to be able to carry out an action, and it can be a place, a tool or a person. By assigning each one of your actions the context in which it has to be done, you make it much easier to decide what the next action should be, since the list will be reduced to those actions that can be performed in the context in which you currently are.

To assign a context to an action you just have to write it in the description of the action. This must be done in the Clarify stage, which is the moment to think about what you have captured really means and how it should be organized. Tags are automatically created if they do not exist.

next actions with different contexts

The definition of your contexts is totally dependent on your lifestyle, but some of the most common are #home, #office, #computer, #calls and #errands. Here is a more advanced guide on the use of contexts: GTD Contexts — Theoretical & Practical Guide.

When you are in the Engage stage, you just have to think about what context you are in, filter the Next Actions that you have in that context, and choose the next action you should be doing among them.

engaging by context

Classify information

The Reference Material list does not contain actions but information that you want to keep because it is useful or interesting. In the same way, the Someday/Maybe list can contain a great variety of things, from actions not yet committed to ideas or things that you would like to do in the future.

Over time, these two lists tend to grow a lot, so it is convenient to use tags to classify their items. This way you can look for all similar items when necessary.

For example, if you keep in the Someday/Maybe list the books that you would like to read and classify each of those items with the #book tag, then when you want to buy a new book you just have to filter the list by that tag and choose what your next reading will be.

classifying Someday/Maybe items

Person contexts

Person contexts are special words preceded by the @ symbol 1, and they help you include a quick reference to someone from your environment in your actions.

When you delegate an action to someone, you must include it in the Waiting For list and indicate who is the person responsible for the task. But you can also use person contexts in the Next Actions list, in order to indicate that an action needs to be dealt with a particular person. That way, when you meet with someone you can immediately see all the pending things that you have to deal with that person.

Next Actions related to a person

By clicking on the person context in the action you have access to her contact data.

1 In addition to letters and digits, a tag may contain the following symbols: hyphen (“-”), underscore (“_”), period (“.”), equal sign (“=”), and slash (“/”).

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