Contexts in an analog/paper system

How do you recommend sorting NAs into contexts when using a paper based system? I find a digital GTD system doesn't fit my lifestyle, but it's so much easier to sort NAs into context when you can just tag it with the context.

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It kinda depends where and how you keep your lists, I think. I have a couple of NA lists (not really, but sorta) in my back pocket jotter on 3x5 cards. Right now I have in there the following lists:
* To Buy
* Christmas Ideas for Others (that is, what we're going to give to other people)
* Christmas Ideas given to Others (that is, what they can give us for xmas)
* House Projects

I also keep some blank cards in there for capture.

So, if I'm thinking of something I want to buy, I whip the jotter out of my back pocket, find the green "To Buy" card and write it there (rather than a blank card). That way it's always with me whenever I happen to think of something I need, or whenever I happen to find myself shopping when I didn't think I would be.

Other NA lists I keep are Household Chores and Work-related Tasks. These are both stored in a 3x5 box I keep on my desk, filed by day and month, or project.

Now, these are not precisely contexts and not precisely NA lists. But the idea is that if you've got a couple of lists that you refer to and add to constantly, you might want to keep them with you so you don't have to do the intermediate step of jotting and sorting/rewriting.

With a 3x5 box, it's pretty easy to work with contexts if you want. One task per card, filed in front of the tab labeled with the context that applies. Example: there's a project that has five sequential steps. The first one is to call so-and-so to find out something. So on your card for the XYZ project, you write the NA "Call so and so about such and such" and file it in your @Calls section. When you've done that, the next action is to write something and send it to someone for their review. So you cross out the first action and write the second one, 'write X doc and send it to Y for review'. And you file that in your @Computer context, if you have one. When that's done, you strike through the second action and write 'waiting for Y to provide feedback' and file it under @Waiting.

Anyway, you can do lots of easy stuff like that with index cards. If you use a binder, you can punch the cards and move them around the same way in a binder. You can also use page-protectors if you don't want to punch your cards--just stick the card in the pocket.

If you don't use cards, then you have to write stuff down on your capture device, then write it again on your NA list, rewrite your NA list when it gets full or ugly or hard to understand. The nice thing about rewriting is it tends to burn stuff into your memory. The uncool thing about rewriting is the time it takes and the wear on your already sore wrists.


I have an 8.5x11 size

I have an 8.5x11 size binder. I love contexts. I have a sheet of paper for each context - mine are

@ errands
@ office
@ computer
@ phone
@ home
@ payments / desk
@ agendas
@ reading

I also have two "waiting for" lists, one for work and one for personal life. I keep the personal life one in various places, and the work one is right behind the @ office context sheet. So in all I have 10 sheets hanging out in front of my calendar.

I took small sticky notes and taped them to the edges of my sheets and labeled them so I could instantly flip to a context, although I understand they make little flags that serve the same purpose.

When I come up with a next action I write it in the calendar (if it is a scheduled item), but if it is not scheduled, I write it on the correct context sheet. If it is for a particular project and I need to know that, I can note it on that context sheet too.

The nice thing about this is when I go out on errands, I grab my errands context sheet out of my binder and run.

When I complete a next action I just check it off. So I do have completed actions on my context sheets, and keep a running list. I use the "checklist" template from DIYPlanner for this and write the context on the upper-right hand line.