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Projects, contexts and consolidated actions

Greetings and Felicitations:

How do you handle a collection of projects that share an action that can/should be consolidated into a single action?

For example, I've three different projects: Hang quilt on wall, Fix ceiling fan at Mom's, Replace refrigerator at Grandmothers. Each involves the action "phone handyman and arrange time to X", where X is different for each project.

If there were just one action, the context would naturally be phone. With two or more such actions, the natural impulse is to want to consolidate them into a single action. Different projects can't "share" a single action or sub-projects, and there is no natural or sensible refactoring of the projects that will make them part of a single project. Likewise, creating a context to capture these actions that all involve the handyman doesn't seem a proper use of contexts. (For example, a context "People/Handyman", in addition to being ephemeral, implies an action "contact handyman", since my cross-section with the handyman is zero unless I go out-of-my-way to contact him.)

One possibility, suggested by the rule of thumb "there is no problem that can't be solved with a level of indirection" is to create a "Handyman List", and make two actions in each project, "Put X on handyman List" and "Contact Handyman and arrange to complete items on Handyman List". This has the apparent weakness that one might not think of an upcoming "Handyman List" action and so end-up calling the handyman several times over the course of several days instead of waiting several days and calling the handyman once (though this might not be a problem if one were properly religious about the weekly review.)

How have you handled similar situations? What do you think of this approach? Have other suggestions for handling this or similar situations?

About lsfinn

lsfinn's picture


Lee Samuel Finn is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy & Astrophysics at The Pennsylvania State University.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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