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Areas of Focus - Clarification Needed

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  • Areas of Focus - Clarification Needed

    I have come to the realisation that my omnifocus software needs better organising because I have things on my project list that don't belong there.

    Specifically, I have decided that Areas of Focus are going to be recorded in a separate document and not in omnifocus.

    Even though I have read davids books numerous times, I decided to recap on the definitions of Areas of Focus and Projects.

    I found the following:

    20,000 foot - Areas of Focus

    This level represents the the agreements you have with yourself about your responsibilities, interests and areas of focus. You can think of it as the job description for your life and work. Typically this list is about 7-10 areas. Your commitments at 20,000 ft tend to change when your life or job changes in some meaningful way. "Responsible for leading company strategy" might be the 20,000 ft component in our running example.

    10,000 foot - Projects
    What relatively near-term outcomes are you committed to for which you are taking many of the next actions on the runway? The answers to this question essentially create your project list, or 10,000 ft. "Growth strategy for 2009 presented to management team" could be the project for the previously mentioned next action. Projects are typically outcomes that can be completed within about a year.
    Then I listened to this podcast: http://www.davidco.com/audio/project_list.mp3

    Which stated along the following lines (0:46):

    A project is something that can be checked off as complete, and is more than an action. Areas of focus cannot be checked off as done, for example home maintenance, personal finance, any children you have, health and recreation.
    I made a list of areas of focus as follows:
    • Write up all tennis match notes
    • Back up important all non digital work with photos e.g. diary, notebook, progress sheets on wall at home, mindmaps, etc
    • Give work tools back to dad
    • Distribute Photos To Friends & Family
    • Clean computers
    • Check up on fire safety for all family
    • buy food
    • build and maintain a system for easily finding stored stuff in storage boxes
    • Socialise with Friends and Family
    • get all the furniture that we don't want out of the house (active because I would like to know how much the furniture is worth)
    • Investigate all the apps recommended by Mac Power User Podcast (area of focus) (active because I need to learn to use my mac as best as i can)
    • Investigate these things recommend by leo laporte (Active because it might help me do my work)
    • Keep the house dust free, clean, and organised
    • Learn Greek
    • Look into All Things Recommended by Friends
    • learn to play the guitar (on hold until the house building work is done)
    • Make home safer from Fires, hazardous substances, sharp corners, finger traps
    • Monitor what's in my Rucksack
    • Take part in regular GTD meetups
    • Replenish GTD supplies
    • Research Days Out & Holiday Ideas
    • take care of your teeth
    • TV shows and films to watch
    • Burning Questions Related To Internet Marketing
    • Maintain house
    • House Chores
    • My wish list

    Having made the list, I can now see that some items (perhaps most of them) are not really Areas of Focus, but are repeating projects. They actually could be ticked off as done, but would come back again after a while. For example, I could create a project called "Write up all tennis match notes from the last 2 weeks" and set it to repeat 2 weeks after completion.

    Having said that, perhaps with the aid of Omnifocus, all Areas of Focus can be made into into repeating tasks/projects. For example, "Maintain house" could be made into an automatically repeating project, "Brainstorm all potential projects relating to house maintenance arising in the last 2 weeks".

    Other items perhaps could be made into checklists/mindmaps. For example, "TV shows and films to watch".

  • #2
    In y system...

    Originally posted by timjamesbrennan View Post
    I made a list of areas of focus as follows:
    • Write up all tennis match notes
    • Back up important all non digital work with photos e.g. diary, notebook, progress sheets on wall at home, mindmaps, etc
    • Give work tools back to dad
    • Distribute Photos To Friends & Family
    • Clean computers
    • Check up on fire safety for all family
    • buy food
    • build and maintain a system for easily finding stored stuff in storage boxes
    • Socialise with Friends and Family
    • get all the furniture that we don't want out of the house (active because I would like to know how much the furniture is worth)
    • Investigate all the apps recommended by Mac Power User Podcast (area of focus) (active because I need to learn to use my mac as best as i can)
    • Investigate these things recommend by leo laporte (Active because it might help me do my work)
    • Keep the house dust free, clean, and organised
    • Learn Greek
    • Look into All Things Recommended by Friends
    • learn to play the guitar (on hold until the house building work is done)
    • Make home safer from Fires, hazardous substances, sharp corners, finger traps
    • Monitor what's in my Rucksack
    • Take part in regular GTD meetups
    • Replenish GTD supplies
    • Research Days Out & Holiday Ideas
    • take care of your teeth
    • TV shows and films to watch
    • Burning Questions Related To Internet Marketing
    • Maintain house
    • House Chores
    • My wish list
    In my system some of the above mentioned items would be Projects - for example:
    • Write up all tennis match notes - a recurring Project in the "Sport" Area of Focus
    • Back up important all non digital work with photos e.g. diary, notebook, progress sheets on wall at home, mindmaps, etc - a recurring Project in the "IT" Area of Focus
    • Give work tools back to dad - a Next Action in the "Family" Area of Focus
    • Distribute Photos To Friends & Family - a recurring Project in the "Family" Area of Focus
    • Clean computers - a recurring Project in the "IT" Area of Focus

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by timjamesbrennan View Post
      I have come to the realisation that my omnifocus software needs better organising because I have things on my project list that don't belong there.

      Specifically, I have decided that Areas of Focus are going to be recorded in a separate document and not in omnifocus.

      Even though I have read davids books numerous times, I decided to recap on the definitions of Areas of Focus and Projects.

      I found the following:



      Then I listened to this podcast: http://www.davidco.com/audio/project_list.mp3

      Which stated along the following lines (0:46):



      I made a list of areas of focus as follows:
      • Write up all tennis match notes
      • Back up important all non digital work with photos e.g. diary, notebook, progress sheets on wall at home, mindmaps, etc
      • Give work tools back to dad
      • Distribute Photos To Friends & Family
      • Clean computers
      • Check up on fire safety for all family
      • buy food
      • build and maintain a system for easily finding stored stuff in storage boxes
      • Socialise with Friends and Family
      • get all the furniture that we don't want out of the house (active because I would like to know how much the furniture is worth)
      • Investigate all the apps recommended by Mac Power User Podcast (area of focus) (active because I need to learn to use my mac as best as i can)
      • Investigate these things recommend by leo laporte (Active because it might help me do my work)
      • Keep the house dust free, clean, and organised
      • Learn Greek
      • Look into All Things Recommended by Friends
      • learn to play the guitar (on hold until the house building work is done)
      • Make home safer from Fires, hazardous substances, sharp corners, finger traps
      • Monitor what's in my Rucksack
      • Take part in regular GTD meetups
      • Replenish GTD supplies
      • Research Days Out & Holiday Ideas
      • take care of your teeth
      • TV shows and films to watch
      • Burning Questions Related To Internet Marketing
      • Maintain house
      • House Chores
      • My wish list

      Having made the list, I can now see that some items (perhaps most of them) are not really Areas of Focus, but are repeating projects. They actually could be ticked off as done, but would come back again after a while. For example, I could create a project called "Write up all tennis match notes from the last 2 weeks" and set it to repeat 2 weeks after completion.

      Having said that, perhaps with the aid of Omnifocus, all Areas of Focus can be made into into repeating tasks/projects. For example, "Maintain house" could be made into an automatically repeating project, "Brainstorm all potential projects relating to house maintenance arising in the last 2 weeks".

      Other items perhaps could be made into checklists/mindmaps. For example, "TV shows and films to watch".
      Er, this doesn't sound like "high-level" checklist. Many of these are projects or recurring tasks that could be groupled into larger "areas."

      Based on your list I can probably guess some of your areas of focus:

      -Friends
      -Family
      -Home
      -Health
      -Personal development (ie learning)
      -Stuff (eg computers, digital archives,etc.)
      -Self-management (everyone who follows GTD should have this a category)

      Anyways, you get the idea....one key is that AOF don't usually verbs associated with them.

      Comment


      • #4
        A lot of what you have identified are not areas of focus, but responsibilities or habits.
        eg:
        AOF - Home
        Responsibilities -
        * Keep the house dust free, clean, and organised
        * Maintain house

        From these responsibilities you will identify two types of work
        * habits or routine work (eg clean computers)
        * projects (give work tools back to dad)

        Habits often do well on checklists or on the context lists as standalone actions, projects are well defined in GTD.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by timjamesbrennan View Post
          perhaps with the aid of Omnifocus, all Areas of Focus can be made into into repeating tasks/projects
          Be careful about this. Areas of focus are a very key part of the GTD methodology. They are a key part of the review process - to focus your mind on each key area of your life. If you push everything down into tasks/projects and dispense with AOF, you will find you increasingly have blind spots and miss things.

          Comment


          • #6
            Really helpful posts - thanks.

            So, I have created a few AOF as follows:

            • Sport/Fitness
            • IT
            • Friends
            • Family
            • Health
            • Personal development (ie learning)

            Now I am thinking I could create my responsibilities as either:
            a) repeating projects in omnifocus
            b) put them on a checklist

            I am leaning towards a) since it might save some time.

            Have I missed the point?

            Anyone have any experience of this?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by timjamesbrennan View Post
              Really helpful posts - thanks.

              So, I have created a few AOF as follows:

              • Sport/Fitness
              • IT
              • Friends
              • Family
              • Health
              • Personal development (ie learning)

              Now I am thinking I could create my responsibilities as either:
              a) repeating projects in omnifocus
              b) put them on a checklist

              I am leaning towards a) since it might save some time.

              Have I missed the point?

              Anyone have any experience of this?
              If it is truly a repeating project, I'd also put it in OmniFocus. But whatever isn't a recurring project but rather a checklist that functions as Area of Focus support, I'd prefer have in a separate checklist to have better overview.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by timjamesbrennan View Post
                Now I am thinking I could create my responsibilities as either:
                a) repeating projects in omnifocus
                b) put them on a checklist
                I can see putting them in a separate list or as folders containing projects.
                I don't see the point of areas of focus as repeating projects.

                Comment


                • #9
                  For most of mine I use a checklist, and that has been working well. There are a few I use in my list manager Pocket Informant, like 'fertilise plants every 2-4 weeks'. I only put these in PI because I like to include notes on when I last did it, and my checklist app doesn't have a notes field. Alternatively I could have used Word or Excel to keep record of when I fertilised the plants.

                  Your revised AOF looks much better, much more manageable.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    recurring project ?

                    Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                    In my system some of the above mentioned items would be Projects - for example:

                    [...]
                    Back up important all non digital work with photos e.g. diary, notebook, progress sheets on wall at home, mindmaps, etc - a recurring Project in the "IT" Area of Focus
                    What is a "recurring project" ?

                    I too am still struggeling with AoF vs. projects.
                    I have a lot of recurring work. The precise action is doable, but there will always be some similar task.
                    How to define that?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Examples of my "recurring projects".

                      Originally posted by Tom.9 View Post
                      What is a "recurring project" ?
                      Here are examples of my "recurring projects":
                      1. Winter tires --> summer tires change in my car (every spring) ("car" area of focus).
                      2. Summer tires --> winter tires change in my car (every autumn) ("car" area of focus).
                      3. Visit the dentist (before Christmas) ("health" area of focus).
                      4. Visit the dentist (before summer vacation) ("health" area of focus).
                      I use my Nokia E71 calendar as the "next occurence" reminders database (electronic GTD tickler file).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tom.9 View Post
                        What is a "recurring project" ?
                        the vast majority of my projects are recurring ones. Here are some examples:

                        From the AOF Manage our Farm Sustainably - Orchard
                        Get irrigation set up for summer
                        Get irrigation closed down for winter

                        From the AOF Manage our Farm Sustainably - Sheep
                        Vaccinate ewes
                        Clean winter sheep corrals

                        From the AOF Manage our Farm Sustainably - Wool
                        Skirt fleeces

                        From the AOF Manage our Farm Sustainably - Ditch Company
                        Process quarterly payroll taxes

                        From the AOF Manage our Farm Sustainably - Poultry
                        Get our chicken meat for the year

                        From the AOF Personal Development
                        Annual physical & Mammogram

                        From the AOF Computer & Technology
                        System backups

                        From the AOF Keep a Comfortable House
                        Monthly bill pay & filing
                        Weekly Review

                        Very few of my projects are truly one off things.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          only to be sure

                          some examples from me

                          AoF house maintenance
                          - fix lamp 1
                          - fix lamp 2
                          - fix sink
                          As soon as lamp 1 is replaced, lamp 3 will blast -> fix lamp 3

                          But as long as the AoF house maintenance exists, there will always be projects like described above, right ?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Tom, consider areas of focus as different hats you wear. There might be your home owner hat, your dad hat, your car driver hat, multiple different hats at work for areas of responsibility there, etc. The projects are the things you actually have to get done and will be crossed off as finished (for now!), even if they then start again shortly thereafter.

                            Oogie, I love your recurring projects! Truly worlds apart!

                            Under house maintenance area of focus, I might have 'RPT Get boiler serviced' (RPT for automatically repeating) because it happens yearly around a specific date and requires multiple steps.

                            Many of my 'fix the sink' type projects are stored as templates, ready to quickly turn into a project next time it breaks. Their purpose is to automatically populate the actions when I put that same type of project back on my list again, so I don't have to think it through again. Keeping a basic checklist for each of those projects would do the same job.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Lamp failures are totally unpredictable.

                              Originally posted by Tom.9 View Post
                              some examples from me

                              AoF house maintenance
                              - fix lamp 1
                              - fix lamp 2
                              - fix sink
                              As soon as lamp 1 is replaced, lamp 3 will blast -> fix lamp 3
                              I don't think these "fixing" projects are good examples of recurring projects. A recurring project is the project which I expect to repeat after some predictable delay (one day, one week, 6 months etc.). Lamp failures are totally unpredictable so they are not recurring but they belong to "house maintenance" AoF of course.

                              Comment

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