The Context-Focus system.

I’ve developed an organizational system based on the principles of the Focus and Context systems, with the additional goal of emptying my Soon list every day, that so far suits my lifestyle perfectly.

Here’s how it works:

At the start of each day, I review my Later list and move items that I want to accomplish that day to my Soon list.

I also consider moving some Later items to Never, if they have been languishing at the bottom of my Later list for a long time.

Next, and at each context change, I choose which items I want to accomplish before the next context change, and bring them into focus at the top of my Soon list using the “focus” button.

The idea is that I must handle each focused item before I change context again.

Note that “handle” doesn’t necessarily mean “complete”. If something comes up and I need to change contexts in a rush, I may make a conscious decision to “un-focus” some items (if I still want to do them later today) or move them to Later (if I want to do them tomorrow).

At the end of the day (my last context change), my Soon list is either already empty, or I empty it, since I won’t be doing anything else that day.

That’s it!

Using this simple system, I can handle everything there is for me to do every day with a conscious, informed decision. Nothing is ever forgotten or accidentally missed.

Amazing results with a simple system! It almost seems too good to be true. And that’s why I call it “deceptively simple!”

Next time, I’ll walk you through a typical day to show you how this works for me.



  1. […] my own life, I have used this principle to develop what I call the Context-Focus system, which has been a life-changing experience for […]

  2. […] for this problem is the “focus” button, and I describe how to use it effectively in my Context-Focus System. (You can also use it for the Focus system, which may work better for […]

  3. […] For a description of how to use the focus button to take control your life, see the Context-Focus System (the system I use) and the Focus System (perhaps less of a […]

  4. Ist there a way to view the information which has been stored in the SkyDrive Backup in a userfriendly way and not as a data .txt-file??

  5. Dr Sylvie Tourigny · · Reply

    The usual difficulty with attempts at organising “to-do’s” is the temptation to go from a shoebox of items to a sudden 10-layer decision-tree with algorithms of the type {if task duration A>1 & client importance (# of years X $ / year) = 1st quintile & weather < 25% precipitation forecast …then job priority = 1 UNLESS…}.

    Whilst the grass may appear (ever so briefly) greener at the other extreme, it is simply not liveable for more than a day. Sooner or Later – optimally named given the way life unfolds – is casual enough for the shoebox lovers, and flexible enough for the contexts to make room for the philosophers' algorithms.

  6. Well said, Dr Tourigny! I’ve certainly given in to the temptation to use other tools to organize, prioritize and categorize my to-do’s into decision trees stretching weeks or even months into the future, but it’s so true that this is simply not liveable for more than a day!

  7. Michal Krawczyk · · Reply

    Hey, i like your ideas!

  8. Michal Krawczyk · · Reply

    I like your ideas!
    I Will try your app for some time.

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