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The 4 Paradigms of De-Constructing Tasks

Ever been stuck in a queue for 5 minutes?

Had an awkward 2 minute elevator trip? Been in a waiting room for 8 minutes? Picking up someone and hanging around an extra 3 minutes?

Got 6 1/2 minutes before that train?

All this time adds up and especially when you are on your own and you are aware and acting on your goal/vision.

Making that time count towards the overall goal or project that you are working on is so important. But developing a routine for adding value to a project in those minutes and seconds that can make up hours slowly is very important and can add massive opportunity in the long run.

Luckily I have been able to be finding and actively working on these minutes and seconds and it really does help towards whatever you are working on. The thing to figure out is where do you locate these or break them down into task specifics.

There are four items surrounding these small to large tasks when waiting around for those spare minutes:


2 // TIME



Before we go into the concepts in more detail, let’s talk collecting loops. It’s probably a very basic theory however leads into what a task can have additional to it to add more context.

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Get involved with GTD when you can

Collecting Loops is a theory by David Allen’s 2001 GTD (Getting Things Done) Edition, it focuses on the way people collect tasks and actions around their day. When something comes into their system, whether it is a email from Jeff or a report from Dave or even a idea around buying shoes for next month’s meeting.

Loops are important and collecting them as they come in is very much vital.

This video will give you a baby-intro to Open Loops…


Context is essentially… What do I need to complete this task. For a lot of people in this modern world it is the Laptop. But there is a lot more context in creative jobs and enterprise roles. Context is what you need to complete the action or task in front of you and needs to be considered whenever uploading tasks to help define the opportunity around getting tasks done.

Some examples of context:

  • Smartphone
  • PC Desktop
  • Laptop
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  • Paper
  • On the Train
  • In the Taxi
  • Home
  • In the Office
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There are more areas to think about around context and potential here. There will be more context around new tasks however these are some entry point opportunities for you to start adding to your task. Every task management application has some sort of “tag” or “label” system installed which becomes very useful in this activity.

Two examples of Task Manager apps that allow you to add context to your tasks are Wunderlist + Todoist. [Todoist Label Support video:]

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I will mention the process of adding tags/labels is the same for all 4 areas of the task. The Context, Time, Priority + Energy Levels.


An example of using “Context” as a paradigm when adding tasks:

Jeff gets in the Cab…. He only has his smartphone [with full battery]

Jeff goes over to tags/labels — hits the context: Smartphone and gets all tasks done that are completable using your Smartphone.



2 // TIME

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“How much time will it take to fully complete this next action?”

Time is very simple…

  • The estimated length of the TASK…
  • You can only guess from experience.
  • Overestimate the length of a task…


Jeff goes into the cab and has all he needs to do any task… or one context item. He grabs his smartphone and works out from the Uber taxi estimate he has 11 minutes to go until he arrives at the station.

He chooses his “5 minute” tasks to get on with. Jeff finishes 2 x 5 min tasks and in the time and walks out happy…

Some useful timings for Beginners of this:

  • Under 10 minutes
  • Under 20 minutes
  • Under 30 minutes
  • 1hr

All useful tags/labels — Again you can add these using these extra tools.

Swipes App also has a super useful function as well with tagging. It becomes very useful like Todoist and Wunderlist. I also did a review on Swipes — Check it out here.

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Making sure there is PRIORITY with tasks is KEY. You know the PRIORITY of a task better than anyone else. Knowing whether it is RED HOT needing to be done now… or SUPER COLD #Whenever… You know this.

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The best way to do this and from exercise of this. The 3 Colour System breaks things down well.

RED — NEED to be done… Today

DARK BLUE- Fairly important

LIGHT BLUE — Not very important

You can find some sort of hierarchical system on any to do list out there. But breaking these down is key to making sure you are on-task.


Energy Levels are very important and as this video explains:

There are 3 Levels:

  • Inactive
  • Active
  • Proactive

TASK: Work out what your day looks like…?

Eg. Do you wake up inactive or proactive — do you buzz with energy or not…


Jeff comes in from a hard day’s work and feels like chilling out and relaxing but realises that yes… his task inbox is at 60 and he needs to get things done.

He feels lazy so goes to the “inactive” tab/tag/label and finds those tasks he can rule with just the little amount of brain power.

When finding the right formulae, applied well it can be very effective!

Thanks for reading everyone and looking forward to connecting with you.

Francesco D’Alessio

See my LinkedIn for credentials

Click on the Bird if you would love to connect with me on Twitter

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I’d love for you to check out my YouTube Videos in which I’m progressing covering all things productivity… Click image.

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👨🏻‍💻 Host of Keep Productive — talking about the future of productivity software here on Medium 👋🏻

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