Contexts in ToDo

Posted on June 7, 2013
Filed Under Organization | 3 Comments

A lot of ToDo apps have contexts.1 While the idea originally comes from Getting Things Done2 you really can use it very effectively without having a clue about the whole GTD cult.3 My workflow has changed pretty dramatically the past six months so how I used to use my ToDo app of choice is quite different from now. I use Appigo ToDo primarily because it does nearly everything I want and syncs easily between OSX and iOS.4 They now have a Pro version that even lets you use it with Siri. Were I still doing the sort of job I used to, managing a lot of people and dealing with dozens of tasks daily I’d almost certainly be using the Pro version. Contexts were invaluable back when I was in a more managerial role. But I still use them.

Appigo TodoThe way to think about contexts is to think of classes of things you need to do. For instance I wanted my chores for around the house separated from my shopping lists and most definitely separated from my works tasks. With my work tasks I had separate contexts for things I had to get others to do (and follow up on). Because Appigo actually had a web app that synced with the iOS and OSX apps I could keep a Safari window open on an employee computer and they could easily see the tasks I’d assigned them for the day. When they were done they could check off each task and I’d immediately see on my phone wherever I was in my factory. Appigo ToDo Pro actually makes it easier to manage employees using their tasks but since I’ve not used the new service I’ll not discuss it.

Now that I’m not really managing people the contexts are still extremely useful. I am able to keep my programming tasks separate from other more general business tasks. (Things like accounting, taxes, or the like) I still keep my personal tasks as a separate context. I recently was called to be the Cub Scout leader for my community so that’s there as well. I then have a separate context for health and fitness goals and tasks. I have a set of checklists for regularly bought items at different stores as their own context. In that context I have a checklist5 for groceries, a list for common stuff at the hardware store, a list of things to take when camping, and a list for longer travel. In those lists I check stuff but then I uncheck them all when done so I can reuse them. Finally I have long term aims and goals all as their own context.6

Tags I probably don’t use nearly as effectively. I tend to use them to mark for long tasks how far along they are or their priority.

  1. Yes this post is inspired by a post of John Gordon’s.
  2. At least I think it does. I might be wrong.
  3. I kid. I kid.
  4. More particularly it’s been syncing for quite a long time. Long before iCloud.
  5. A checklist is one of the nice features of Appigo. It’s basically a list of tasks. So you have one task for groceries and then within that task a list of the things to get at the grocery.
  6. Appigo has actually changed how checklists behave a bit. You really don’t need them in a context in quite the same way anymore. However the general idea is the same. You can now create them easily by typing a name:item 1, item 2, item 3, etc.


  • John Gordon

    I think you are using Contexts for many of the things I create Lists for. So my Lists are
    - computer
    - family
    - home
    - personal
    - [my employer]
    - money
    - posts (ideas for posts)
    - shop

    and I used to do Contexts based on where I could accomplish things. So home, work, wifi (meaning network access) etc.

    That turned out not to be too useful (my lists implied contexts) so I tried using them as ways to organize tasks into projects (context= project names).

    Then, as as you know :-), I gave up on that and now i just have the single context for ‘quick’ tasks…

  • Pingback: Contexts in – how Clark uses them. | Gordon's shares

  • Clark

    Yeah, I use projects for projects but honestly I find projects overkill for Appigo ToDo and tend to manage them elsewhere. I don’t use lists much so maybe I should use them like that.