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Using Areas of Focus and Areas of Responsibilty as different levels

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  • Using Areas of Focus and Areas of Responsibilty as different levels

    What do you think if I would split 20,000 ft Level into 2 separate horizons?
    From GTD book:

    "Your job may entail at least implicit commitments
    for things like strategic planning, administrative *support, staff
    development, market research, customer service, or asset management.

    And your personal life has an equal number of such focus
    arenas: health, family, finances, home environment, spirituality,
    recreation, etc. Listing and reviewing these responsibilities gives a
    more comprehensive framework for evaluating your inventory of
    projects"

    Areas of Responsibility would be more granular, for example health, family, finances, home environment, spirituality, recreation, etc.
    And Areas of Focus would be more general, for example Work, Personal, Maintanence etc.

    Let's say I have 15 Areas of Responsibilty and I would connect/group them to 5 Areas of Focus... So I would connect projects not to 15 different Areas of Responsibilty but to only 5 Areas of Focus. And use those Areas of Focus as an additional criteria(context) for choosing Next Actions. And I'll use Areas of Responsibilty for creating or accepting most of
    my projects. Does this make sense?

    Also From the book:
    "These altitude analogies are somewhat arbitrary, and in real
    life the important conversations you will have about your focus
    and your priorities may not fit exactly to one horizon or another.
    They can provide a useful framework, however, to remind you of
    the multilayered nature of your "job" and resulting commitments
    and tasks."

    The bottom line is:
    Would it be a good idea to group projects by something more general than 15 areas of responsibility, for example like work, personal and etc and still use areas of responsibility.

    I actually like the idea because it makes it a lot more convenient but want to know what others think.
    Also how often do you review and update your 20,000 ft Level and do you actually connect/link it with projects or just use as a checklist? I know some people don't even link actions to projects
    Last edited by May; 05-12-2011, 01:59 PM.

  • #2
    I see two aspects to this. Firstly, what answers do you want your GTD system to be able to answer, and then the mechanics.

    I can imagine that you might want to say "I'm working now, show me actions for projects for Areas of Responsibility that are Work". And similarly for when you are not at work. This would make sense for me, as I am paid by the hour by clients.

    Another question you might want to answer is about balance. Seeing your current workload split by Work, Personal and Maintenance could be the feedback that lets you control the meaningfulness of your activity. You might realise that 90% of your non-work activities are maintenance and want to change that in favour of personal growth.

    Then the mechanics kicks in. Given the specific answers you want, does your system provide the mouse clicks that make this workable in real time? If not, then will you use it? ( As a Things user, I would attach Work, Personal, etc as tags to the relevant Areas of Focus and that would give me the one-click view - so it will depend ).
    Last edited by pxt; 05-12-2011, 02:33 PM.

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    • #3
      I'm in the middle of drafting up my HOF as well. I've tried a few different formats, but for the AOF and below here's the format that works for me, which I'm doing as bulleted lists in Word.

      Area of focus
      -responsibility
      *projects
      - subprojects/deliverables.

      Here is a work example for one AOF: (I work for a water authority at a sewage treatment plant if that helps any)

      Treatment & discharge
      -develop system understanding and models
      *Hydrodynamic modelling
      * environmental risk assessment
      *onsite water balance
      *biodiversity assessment
      - waterfowl models
      -contaminant impacts

      A home example:
      Parent
      - support Cade's education
      * Grade 4
      -reading
      -writing
      - spelling
      - maths
      -investigations

      I like this because it's really clear how the projects link to the areas of focus and responsibilities
      It would also be easy to mind map this, or have as a long bulleted list if that's easier.

      Don't know why but none of the indents worked on this but I do use indented bulleted lists.
      Last edited by Suelin23; 05-12-2011, 07:04 PM. Reason: indents didn't work

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      • #4
        Originally posted by pxt View Post
        I see two aspects to this. Firstly, what answers do you want your GTD system to be able to answer, and then the mechanics.

        I can imagine that you might want to say "I'm working now, show me actions for projects for Areas of Responsibility that are Work". And similarly for when you are not at work. This would make sense for me, as I am paid by the hour by clients.

        Another question you might want to answer is about balance. Seeing your current workload split by Work, Personal and Maintenance could be the feedback that lets you control the meaningfulness of your activity. You might realise that 90% of your non-work activities are maintenance and want to change that in favour of personal growth.

        Then the mechanics kicks in. Given the specific answers you want, does your system provide the mouse clicks that make this workable in real time? If not, then will you use it? ( As a Things user, I would attach Work, Personal, etc as tags to the relevant Areas of Focus and that would give me the one-click view - so it will depend ).
        You got my idea exactly correct with "what answers do you want your GTD system to be able to answer".
        About the mechanics:
        I actually decided to keep Areas of Focus and Areas of Responsibility as exactly the same thing but add another "level" - Project Groups which makes a little more sense.
        So I would group my projects by Work, Life, Maintanence and so on (only 4-5 groups) and use it as an additional criteria for filtering next actions and grouping projects. It's just easiear to group and review projects by 4 groups instead of 15.

        Those Projects Groups alone are too general to provide any meaningful connection with higher levels like goals and visons though and they are used only to simplify the system for daily management.

        However all projects should really align and connect with the actual Areas of Focus like friends, family, health, finance, reading, information management and so on (about 15 Areas) instead of Project Groups.
        Those connections are going to be reviewed only whenever I feel like to see if I have enough projects for each area I commited to and if I overcommited in some Areas and also to decide what projects I would accept/create, ie what projects are ultimately in alignement with my life purpose. Now the name "Area of Responsibility" does make a lot more sense to me because if some projects aren't in alignement with my responsibilities and ultimately goals and visions then it is a good reason to say NO to them. So I don't end up with some random crazy projects which might sound good.
        Because the whole model only makes sense when each of these levels enhance and align with the ones above it.

        Making an action choice at the next action level is a lot easier when all main priorities are really decided at higher levels and everything is in alingment. It's obvious but I only recently started to really connect and use all of those levels as a whole complete model ...

        ( I use PersonalBrain for this and everything is connected from Next Actions to Life Purpose and it's all in one app including all support and reference material and so on)
        Last edited by May; 05-13-2011, 04:05 AM.

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        • #5
          I use my Areas of Focus actively to provide balance.

          As I look across the titles, I like to think that the list is representative of my ideal life and self, if equal effort were applied to each AOF. So I sometimes combine or split AOFs to increase or decrease their presence in my activities. On day one of GTD I wrote down Car and House and Stuff, but have now combined them all into Stuff, so as to focus on less materialistic things such as family, friends, adventures, hobbies, etc which feel more like me being me.

          During review, my GTD apps' project view will show me if an AOF has a lot of projects and another only has one that may have gone stale. So my AOFs can do all the work of maintaining both balance and momentum. As long as I am on the front foot across my AOFs, then things are in good shape.

          I then use goals and visions as accelerators. I put a lot more effort into the visioning side of things as this becomes a motivator. Plus I think much more ambitiously, with the intention of making the outcome exciting and I will want to put a lot more energy into it. So there is not any kind of hierarchy as such ( I got stuck when I tried that ) but there is alignment.
          Last edited by pxt; 05-13-2011, 05:58 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by pxt View Post
            I see two aspects to this. Firstly, what answers do you want your GTD system to be able to answer, and then the mechanics.
            This quote belongs into the GTD Hall of Fame.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
              This quote belongs into the GTD Hall of Fame.
              Do you mean because it's deep and meaningful, or because it's completely redundant?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by May View Post
                However all projects should really align and connect with the actual Areas of Focus like friends, family, health, finance, reading, information management and so on
                I disagree with that. Projects are not a building-part of the HOF like NAs are a building-part of Projects. I mean, slice and dice your 10k-level items the way you want, what works for you, works for you. But my experience is, that the better I integrate my higher-level items into my life, the more I tend to have projects, that support more than one AoF and even 30k-50k level items. For instance, at the moment I have a home improvement project that supports my plans in the areas of personal finances, family, physical fitness, a long-term goal related to moving my main place of working and the project in itself is an experience in personal growth mentally and fun. I am building an arbor. How do I benefit my making all those partly subtle connection apparent in my GTD system?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by pxt View Post
                  Do you mean because it's deep and meaningful, or because it's completely redundant?
                  Because it's deep and meaningful. (I am not aware that I gave a hint at meaning it in a cynical or sarcastic way.)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    "However all projects should really align and connect with the actual Areas of Focus like friends, family, health, finance, reading, information management and so on (about 15 Areas) instead of Project Groups."

                    Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
                    I disagree with that. Projects are not a building-part of the HOF like NAs are a building-part of Projects. I mean, slice and dice your 10k-level items the way you want, what works for you, works for you. But my experience is, that the better I integrate my higher-level items into my life, the more I tend to have projects, that support more than one AoF and even 30k-50k level items. For instance, at the moment I have a home improvement project that supports my plans in the areas of personal finances, family, physical fitness, a long-term goal related to moving my main place of working and the project in itself is an experience in personal growth mentally and fun. I am building an arbor. How do I benefit my making all those partly subtle connection apparent in my GTD system?
                    I didn't mean strict hierarchies. Also your projects are in alingment with AoF so there is nothing to disagree with..?
                    Sure each project can connect with many Areas of Focus and each Area of Focus could connect to multiple goals and so on. Only actions are connected to their projects in a strict hierarchy but they also have multiple contexts.

                    Also my real point was that Project Groups that I'm going to use are too general to provide any meaningful connection with higher levels like goals and visons and they are used only to simplify the system for daily management.

                    Actually even David Allen suggest to split them somewhat:

                    "Next I recommend that you make and keep a list called
                    "Areas of Focus." You might like to separate this into "Professional" and "Personal" sublists, in which case you'll want to use
                    them both equally for a consistent review This is one of the most
                    useful checklists you can create for your own self-management."


                    So even though I'm going to group Projects by certain groups like Work, Personal and so on they still should really align with AoF instead. Because Work is too general to be a real Area of Focus/Responsibilty.

                    From GTD book:
                    "Your job may include things like staff development, systems
                    design, long-range planning, administrative support, marketing,
                    and scheduling, or responsibility for facilities, fulfillment, quality*
                    control, asset management, and so on. If you're your own business, your attention will be on many more areas than if you have a
                    very specialized function in a large organization. The rest of your
                    life might entail areas of focus such as parenting, partnering,
                    church, health, community service, home management, financial
                    management, self-development, creative expression, and so forth."


                    My point was not about using AoF in the same way as projects.

                    "How do I benefit my making all those partly subtle connection apparent in my GTD system?"

                    Well it depends on how you make those connections.
                    If it's on a mind map ( without strict hierarchies, ie any child can have any number of parents) then you can really see how much attention each level and each AoF, goal and etc. gets.
                    Otherwise you have to make and re-make those connections in your head everytime during your review of higher levles. Not a big problem but I prefer to keep as much as possible externalized


                    Also depends on how easy it is to tweak this mind map.


                    So it's optional of course. For me it's easy to do every once in a while so why not? It's a cool bonus. I mean if it's obvious to you anyway then there is probably no benifit.
                    Last edited by May; 05-13-2011, 09:21 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
                      Because it's deep and meaningful. (I am not aware that I gave a hint at meaning it in a cynical or sarcastic way.)
                      I was just kidding - I don't mind either way.

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                      • #12
                        I am curious how many visions and goals people have.

                        I really can't handle very many and currently have a single, broadly encompassing vision and about four goals. These tend to be personally transforming activities where I need to become a better person to achieve the outcome.

                        Business-as-usual is handled by my Areas of Focus.

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