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seeking ideas on how to combine birds-eye (40,000) view with day to day usage of GtD

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  • seeking ideas on how to combine birds-eye (40,000) view with day to day usage of GtD

    Hello GTDers,

    It's been a while since the last time I've posted. Many thanks to Bernard and company for all the excellent suggestions on making my weekly review useful, meaningful, and under an hour (http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthread.php?t=471.

    I am still using a palm and memoleaf (a memopad organizer) as my way of getting all my projects entered and used (in terms of context, etc...).

    My current question/issue deals with the birds-eye view part of GtD (20,000 foot, 40,000 foot...choose whatever height you want in terms of the name...I'll use "birds-eye" as the term for it). I am looking for an approach to this view, rather then specific tools (memoleaf and palm have worked really well for me).

    I understand that the fundamental unit of a Next Action (NA) is a physical step, but I'm encountering some problems with projects that are part of a bigger overall goal. An example, might be the best way to describe my problem.

    Ok - so I have a bunch of overall goals in my life with their own priority. These goals are much higher level "projects" than day to day projects. I'd call these "meta-projects" since they're more abstract and quite removed from a physical next action. So for example, lets say I have the following life goals (as birds-eye as I can get):



    1. live a long and healthy life
    2. spend meaningful time with my spouse
    3. be financially healthy so that I can retire early

    Now on a day-to-day basis, I'm dealing with many different projects. Many of which have nothing to do with the above goals (for example, a project called "get 200,000 miles out of Honda" or "fix up bathroom in apartment"). At the same time, when I empty my head and create projects, there are some that fit under the above goals. Now these related projects come into my head, and I drain them into projects. For example:
    Under #1 goal I might have the following projects:
    - "find exercise that I can do twice a week on a lifelong basis" (and this project would have the physical steps of: "search web for chart on types of exercises", "figure out how to measure effectiveness of walking", etc...)
    - "take multi vitamins on a daily basis" (again - physical steps of choosing vitamins, tracking, and making this a recurring project)

    Under goal #2, I might have the following projects:
    - "figure out daily activities where we can spend time together" (again - physical actions may be: "list current activities", "talk to partner about her ideal things to do together", etc...)
    - "find weekend activities to do with spouse and friends" (physical actions would be: "research museums" (which might have even more physical steps to it like "google for local museums"

    For goal #3, I might have the following (a lot more than the following, but these are some of them):
    - "cull and figure possible gold and/or oil investment strategy" (physical steps would be things like: "read Grham bk first for $ mgmt method", "figure out a behavior that will suit you for long term", "focus on incremental improvement"
    - "Learn to trade for a living w/o dependence on boss" (physical steps would be things like: "explore lazy investing", "read/reviewTrading Now by Alex Deer (Author)", etc...)

    Now keeping in mind that projects related to life goals can come at any moment, and I am looking for a cohesive way of ordering the projects related to each goal would be very helpful in having a somewhat focused approach on approaching that goal over a long period of time, while at the same time keeping to the GtD minute-to-minute concepts of context and physical actions.

    One thought I had was to take each goal and have the related projects underneath it in one listing, and then split off the projects so that I can actually do them. What I mean is have something like following:

    1. live a long and healthy life
    - "find exercise that I can do twice a week on a lifelong basis"
    -- "search web for chart on types of exercises"
    -- "figure out how to measure effectiveness of walking", etc...)
    - "take multi vitamins on a daily basis"
    -- research "healthy" vitamins on google
    -- research medical articles on effectives of specific proportions or specific brand (consumer reports perhaps)
    -- choose a company that's been around for a while
    ...
    2. spend meaningful time with my spouse
    - project outcome
    -- project physical next action steps
    ...
    3. be financially healthy so that I can retire early
    - project outcome
    -- project physical next action steps
    ...

    Now the problem that I have with the above approach is the inflexibility of such a long list. When I move projects from the above list to a memo format, then when I update the physical steps on that project, they're gone from the overall approach of the life goal. This is an issue that goes beyond a context problem.

    My questions:

    1. how do you folks maintain a birds-eye perspective above the day-to-day minutiae of projects? (i.e. do you have one project (for life type goals) that lists other projects as NAs? Do you review it weekly? How do you see the forest in spite of the trees (i.e. the sequence of projects supporting a life goal, as opposed to life goal itself?)
    2. How do you chain multiple projects that belong to one birds-eye category?
    3. How do you cohesively organize which NA of which project in a particular (birds eye) category will be done so that you're marching forward in accomplishing your overall birds-eye category? (i.e. sequence in time...I'm not talking about context here).

    Thank you for your help.

    njnjboy
    Last edited by njnjboy; 05-10-2006, 02:00 PM.

  • #2
    Hi njnjboy,

    I view your question as a question about tools. This kind of question arises with great regularity.

    First, your three example goals look much more like Areas of Responsibility. I have one called Health, another called Fitness, another called Husband, another called Personal Finance. I then organize my projects under these areas of responsibility.

    I review these areas of responsibility once a year. At that time I also create 1-year goals for myself. I review these 1-year goals weekly at the beginning of my weekly review.

    I use a tool called Achieve Planner. What David Allen calls Areas of Responsibility, Achieve Planner calls Result Areas. Achieve Planner is a particularly powerful outliner. Others on this forum use other outlining tools.

    When I look at my commitments in Achieve Planner, I can choose to see all my projects and actions listed under my Areas of Responsibility. I run a small business so I have lots of Areas of Responsibility: Purchasing, Marketing, Sales, Property Management, Human Resources, etc. When I look at my lists, I can decide whether to group them by Areas of Responsibility or not. I usually do look at them that way. Thus, I can see what's on my plate under Inventory Control, what are the next actions for New Product Development, etc.

    Other times I might only want to view my commitments by context, or by due date. Having the right tool makes a big difference.

    GTD is platform-neutral. But I believe that the explosion in GTD's popularity is directly due to the advancements in the technology of digital planning systems. You don't have to go digital but it makes a huge difference.

    I am not a gadget freak. I used the Outlook Add-In for more than three years. I would read posts on this forum about this or that software and decide that it wasn't worth it. Finally I was convinced by the posts of Andersons that having the right technology can bring about large boosts in productivity.

    Your question demonstrates why. At different times I like to see my system organized differently. Sometimes I want to know what commitments I have made to support my role as a Father. Other times I want to see all the tasks related to my project "Research cardiovascular exercises." I have learned that having the right tool gives me a big boost when it comes to planning at higher altitudes.

    David Allen is right. It's hard to plan at higher altitudes when the runway is a cluttered mess. He says that conceptually we should plan our highest level goals first and then work our way down. But he finds in practice that many people's runways are chaotic. There is no way they can do higher level planning.

    He described me perfectly. I wasn't ready for much higher level planning when I started GTD. I wasn't ready for the more complex outlining tools. I made the right decision for the first few years to reject those tools. But the more I did GTD the more effective I became at longer-range planning. And the more effective I became at longer-range planning, the more I had a need for the powerful planning capabilities of a tool like Achieve Planner.

    As kewms constantly reminds us: if you can't accomplish what you want with the tools you have, get a different tool.

    Comment


    • #3
      Life Balance software?

      I don't use this, yet, but I have been walking through the write-up on it that one can own load from Llamagraphics. I believe several posters on this forum are quite enamored with it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by njnjboy
        Hello GTDers,
        So for example, lets say I have the following life goals (as birds-eye as I can get):

        1. live a long and healthy life
        2. spend meaningful time with my spouse
        3. be financially healthy so that I can retire early
        I generally use the DA altitude analogy, in which we have
        0K Next Actions
        10K Projects
        20K Focus Areas/Roles
        30K 1-2 Year Goals
        40K 3-5 Year Goals
        50K Life Goals

        But I would say that your "life goals" aren't life goals at all. I think that Health, Family, and Finances are focus areas, and deserve to be looked at at least every month, to make sure that my current projects reflect where I want to be headed. One simple sentence can be enough, or perhaps as much as a paragraph. No need to list projects- if you can't figure out which of your current projects are related to those focus areas, then you know you have a problem. You can have 1-2 year goals reviewed every quarter, and higher reviewed every year, or as often as you need. The trick to learn is this: when you look at the different levels, are you comfortable with where you are and where you are headed? If you aren't, fill in what you need to at lower levels to get comfortable. This can require a lot of honesty in self-appraisal. But generally, it doesn't require a lot of tracking and linking.

        Returning to your life goals, how will you know when you have had a long, healthy life? When you're dead? What if you don't have good health, through accident or genetics or whatever? Will you have failed? Suppose your financial decisions don't work out, and you end up as a 75-year-old greeter at Walmart. You want to be as healthy as possible now, to make your spouse happy now, to act responsibly on finances now. It's ok to say, for example: it's early in my career, prospects look good, I have college loans, I'm going to focus on paying off my loans, socking away money into a Roth IRA, and building good financial habits. Or to say that a child's college costs will lead to reduced savings for the next four years. And what if congress changes social security? It's ok to have a life goal of financial security, but the meaning of that goal will change in time for you, and be reflected in all the lower levels.

        Comment


        • #5
          tools

          Hello Moises,

          Thank you for responding to my post.

          Originally posted by moises
          First, your three example goals look much more like Areas of Responsibility. I have one called Health, another called Fitness, another called Husband, another called Personal Finance. I then organize my projects under these areas of responsibility.
          You're right - "areas of responsibility" is the correct name for it. Where would you place projects such as "fix bathroom"? A generic or miscellaneous titled area of a responsiblity would be a bad place to go (in my opinion).

          Originally posted by moises
          I review these areas of responsibility once a year. At that time I also create 1-year goals for myself. I review these 1-year goals weekly at the beginning of my weekly review.
          Ok - so when you say you create 1-year goals for yourself, do you mean goals with concrete next action steps or more higher level goals? For me, the creation of such goals only once a year seems to be too static.


          Originally posted by moises
          I use a tool called Achieve Planner. What David Allen calls Areas of Responsibility, Achieve Planner calls Result Areas. Achieve Planner is a particularly powerful outliner. Others on this forum use other outlining tools.

          When I look at my commitments in Achieve Planner, I can choose to see all my projects and actions listed under my Areas of Responsibility. I run a small business ...
          Other times I might only want to view my commitments by context, or by due date. Having the right tool makes a big difference.
          You're absolutley correct about using the right tool - no disagreements there. Achieve Planner seems like a very good tool...if you use Windows only (I'll elaborate more on this below).

          Originally posted by moises
          GTD is platform-neutral. But I believe that the explosion in GTD's popularity is directly due to the advancements in the technology of digital planning systems. You don't have to go digital but it makes a huge difference.
          ... Andersons that having the right technology can bring about large boosts in productivity.

          Your question demonstrates why. At different times I like to see my system organized differently. Sometimes I want to know what commitments I have made to support my role as a Father. Other times I want to see ...the right tool gives me a big boost when it comes to planning at higher altitudes.
          Again - I agree. I've been struggling with the tools issue ever since I've gone down the GtD path. I'm a "mobile" user in the sense that I have to have the GtD related device on me. Consequently, windows doesn't work because I can't lug a laptop everywhere I go (and the devices that are windows laptop which are small are prohibitvley small). Consequently, I'm left with PDA (whether PDA only or phone/pda combination). In my case, I've been using a palm tungsten C for a long time. With the seemingly inevitable demise of palm as a platform (no flames please on this...just my own opinion and observation), the next device is likely to be a windows mobile device.

          In any case, when I started to use the palm as my GtD device I explored various programs such as LifeBalance, the todo list, outliners, and the memo pad. I settled on the memopad in combination with memoleaf because I wanted a non-proprietary system that I could easily save as text (and with memo - you can save it to word, txt file, etc...). I also wanted to minimize the amount of extra programs I install when I install the palm desktop and memopad seemed useful for this reason too, since it comes built in with palm desktop.

          It seems, based on what you've described, that I have to revisit the tools arena, and come to terms that my usage of memopad as a hammer for all things GtD will not work for high level views such as areas of responsibilities. Obviously, for me, I need a tool that can run on palm, windows, and windows mobile (in the future). It seems like LifeBalance might warrant a new look (last time, it's prioritzation system left me a little queasy due to it's fuzzy "life balancing" capabilities).

          If you (or anyone else) has any suggestions about other tools that fit the bill in terms of the above platforms - please let me know.


          Originally posted by moises
          David Allen is right. It's hard to plan at higher altitudes when the runway is a cluttered mess. He says that conceptually we should plan our highest level goals first and then work our way down. But he finds in practice that many people's runways are chaotic. There is no way they can do higher level planning.

          He described me perfectly. I wasn't ready for much higher level planning when I started GTD. I wasn't ready for the more complex outlining tools. I made the right decision for the first few years to reject those tools. But the more I did GTD the more effective I became at longer-range planning. And the more effective I became at longer-range planning, the more I had a need for the powerful planning capabilities of a tool like Achieve Planner.

          As kewms constantly reminds us: if you can't accomplish what you want with the tools you have, get a different tool.
          I think that you hit the nail on the head. I've finally gotten my life around the day-to-day planning and usage of GtD and now I'm ready to look at higher level planning. Granted, I'm not looking forward to migrate and actively categorize under areas of responsibility all my projects from my memopads, but it seems like a step that I have to do.

          Once again, thank you for your feedback and insight.

          njnjboy

          Comment


          • #6
            Hello Mcogilvie,

            Thank you for your response...lots of food for thought.

            Originally posted by mcogilvie
            I generally use the DA altitude analogy, in which we have
            0K Next Actions
            10K Projects
            20K Focus Areas/Roles
            30K 1-2 Year Goals
            40K 3-5 Year Goals
            50K Life Goals
            In terms of recording this down - projects (for me) have next actions, so 10k and 0k seems to be mixed together.

            Originally posted by mcogilvie
            But I would say that your "life goals" aren't life goals at all. I think that Health, Family, and Finances are focus areas, and deserve to be looked at at least every
            You're right - I mis-stated these. They're my "areas of responsibility" in GtD terms (as moises clarified).

            Originally posted by mcogilvie
            month, to make sure that my current projects reflect where I want to be headed. One simple sentence can be enough, or perhaps as much as a paragraph. No need to list projects- if you can't figure out which of your current projects are related to those focus areas, then
            Ok - so I'm a little unclear here. Day-to-day life throws curve balls at you. One of GtD's greatest strenghts is the ability to dynamically deal with those curve balls. For example, your used car overheats and you have to get it repaired - so the project outcome is: "repair overheat problem with honda" and this has a bunch of physical next actions. What area of responsibilty does this fall into? How do I separate the "important" projects from the curve balls that I have to deal with and keep my long term view clear in spite of the daily crap?

            Originally posted by mcogilvie
            you know you have a problem. You can have 1-2 year goals reviewed every quarter, and higher reviewed every year, or as often as you need. The trick to learn is this: when you look at the different levels, are you comfortable with where you are and where you are headed? If you aren't, fill in what you need to at lower levels to get comfortable. This can require a lot of honesty in self-appraisal. But generally, it doesn't require a lot of tracking and linking.
            I think that I'm missing the boat here. I'm really good at keeping to the system and getting through the daily day-to-day projects. However, when I climb to higher levels, things start to fall apart. Perhaps one problem is the tool I use (just memopad from palm), perhaps another problem is my general approach.

            Can you provide details (in more concrete steps) of how you break down and distinguish 1-2 year goals from daily stuff from lifetime?

            Also - what tool do you use for both higher level organization and day to day curve balls?

            Originally posted by mcogilvie
            Returning to your life goals, how will you know when you have had a long, healthy life? When you're dead? What if you don't have good health, through accident or genetics or whatever? Will you have failed? Suppose
            Ok - so you're indicating that I need to clarify the outcomes that I would like to have (granted - whether they happen or not is a different story...I could drop dead at any time). That's the frustrating part for me - the fuzziness of defining such outcomes without concrete steps verus outcomes that are clearly defined (i.e. the curve balls). I know I'm being retentive about this, but I can't help but feel that I'm missing the point.

            Originally posted by mcogilvie
            your financial decisions don't work out, and you end up as a 75-year-old greeter at Walmart. You want to be as healthy as possible now, to make your spouse happy now, to act responsibly on finances now. It's ok to say, for example: it's early in my career, prospects look good, I have college loans, I'm going to focus on paying off my loans, socking away money into a Roth IRA, and building good financial habits. Or to say that a child's college costs will lead to reduced savings for the next four years. And what if congress changes social security? It's ok to have a life goal of financial security, but the meaning of that goal will change in time for you, and be reflected in all the lower levels.
            Ok - so as you said the meaning of the goal changes over time. One big problem (again - perhaps a tool issue) is reflecting this change in meaning across the concrete projects that form the steps for this goal. A change in meaning ultimately translates to a change in concrete actions. So if the child college costs will reduce my savings, then my projects that support the financial security goal will change in terms of concrete next actions...how do you push that change out to all projects supporting the "financial security" goal?

            (sigh) I'm not sure that I'm clear about a good approach for this, though it's clear I have some issues in terms of long range planning

            njnjboy

            Comment


            • #7
              It's not clear whether you are asking a "tools" question, or a "philosophy" question. I think the philosophy question is more interesting, so I'll answer that one instead. After all, you can't pick a tool until you know what philosophy you're trying to implement.

              First of all, how is it possible for something you have to do to *not* lie within one of your areas of responsibility? If you aren't responsible for it, you don't have to do it, right?

              And no, I'm not just playing semantic games. My point is that things like "fix bathroom" or "take car to shop" are every bit as important to "spend meaningful time with spouse" as flowers and nice dinners. A spouse who has to call the plumber and gets stranded by the side of the road just isn't going to be open to anything you have to say. Would you be?

              I think that's one of DA's most important insights, actually. You can't have a smoothly functioning life without doing all sorts of things that don't show up on your "Things To Do Before I Die" list, so your system had better make room for that stuff.

              Second of all, I'm not sure I understand your question:
              3. How do you cohesively organize which NA of which project in a particular (birds eye) category will be done so that you're marching forward in accomplishing your overall birds-eye category? (i.e. sequence in time...I'm not talking about context here).
              There are only two possible ways to move a category forward: discrete Next Actions (Go to gym Thursday.) and current projects (Buy new running shoes). (You can have Someday/Maybe projects too -- run Boston Marathon, say -- but they aren't moving the category forward.)

              So, you sit down at your Weekly Review, and you ask yourself which actions and which projects you want to do this week. And you do them. And then you do another Weekly Review. And so forth. Many people, myself included, find it helpful to do Monthly and Annual Reviews as well. I like to see what I have planned for the month and see how I'm doing on my goals for the year. But it all comes down to Weekly Reviews, Next Actions, and Projects.

              From there, it isn't clear whether your difficulty is in setting goals in the first place, or in capturing the results of your planning in your system. Even if it's both, you might find it best to use the simplest possible tools (pen and paper, maybe?) while you work out the goals. Finding a capture system is the easy part.

              Katherine

              Comment


              • #8
                Perspective of Altitude

                This is a common and difficult question. For most people it starts out as a tools problem. However, it is really more of a process problem than a tools problem.

                While there is clearly a gap in the availability of appropriate tools to handle the problem from a largely conceptual standpoint (particularly if you feel you need an integrated system that sync's with a handheld). There is also a lack of fundamental understanding which leads to an overcomplication of the system.

                An example of this is oft used approach of hierarchical outliners. While there are no shortage of such tools that sync with a palm (and I suppose with mobile phones and pocket windows devices) there are none that sync well with Outlook which is the PIM that 90+% of US employees are required to use.

                Further, the first challenge one faces is that a hierarchical system requires that a one-to-many relationship, and in life sometimes a many-to-many relationship is more practical. For example does "Attend Yoga with my wife" belong under Fitness or Personal Relationship? Probably both. The nice thing is these kinds of projects/actions are key because they advance two (or more projects) instead of just one.

                There is also the challenge of expansion. 5 Long term goals with 3 1-3 year goals each, all with 4 areas of responsibility with 5 projects each with 3 next actions yields: 5 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 3 = 900 next actions. Regardless of what you call the levels of perspective, there is the simple fact that the more focus areas you have, the less you focus on.

                The most effective people I've ever met had a single mindedness about them that is what made them succesful. The KISS principle applies. Simplicity equals focus. Focus results in action. Action delivers results.

                This brings us back to the question of tools vs. process. By making things too complex we look for a tool to solve the problem. By having the maturity to make decisions about what is truly most important in our lives we give ourselves the power to say no (or at least someday/mabye) to the less important things.

                When we simplify. Less complex tools are required. When we simplify and do the weekly review weekly, then once we have included at least a cursory review of our higher altitudes during the weekly review it is obvious which focus area and goals a project belongs to. There is no need to connect these through technology.

                David spoke about this at Roadmap in San Francisco and it really wasn't until then that I got it. He was speaking specifically about linking next actions to projects on the Palm, but the principle applies to the higher perspectives as well.

                Use a simple tool to map out the higher perspectives (Altitutdes). MindManager is great if you like mind maps. A word file is fine and is transferable to the Palm. I have my 50, 40, 30, & 20,000 ft levels all in a three page word doc on my palm. For 10,000 ft. and below I use Outlook and the add-in. I've added a custom field for Focus Area for projects and do my weekly review by focus area. If I need to refer or adjust above that level, I have the info in Word.

                It seems to work fine for me. Clean & simple. Not overly complex and I spend more time working on my goals and a lot less tinkering and hacking software.

                jpm

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have a simple, consistent way of doing exactly what the original poster describes:

                  The Monthly Review

                  Every month, as part of my Weekly Review, I review my higher-level goals/desires and sync them up with my projects.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by njnjboy
                    In terms of recording this down - projects (for me) have next actions, so 10k and 0k seems to be mixed together.
                    Not mixed, I hope, but you probably want them connected. This is a complicated issue for many, so I will leave it alone.

                    Originally posted by njnjboy
                    Ok - so I'm a little unclear here. Day-to-day life throws curve balls at you. One of GtD's greatest strenghts is the ability to dynamically deal with those curve balls. For example, your used car overheats and you have to get it repaired - so the project outcome is: "repair overheat problem with honda" and this has a bunch of physical next actions. What area of responsibilty does this fall into? How do I separate the "important" projects from the curve balls that I have to deal with and keep my long term view clear in spite of the daily crap?
                    Where you put fixing your car depends on you. You might have a focus area of taking care of your material possessions. I don't bother, because I generally don't need the reminder. You might be fixing your car because you intend to sell it soon (1-2 year goal), you might be concerned about getting to work on time (focus area), you might want your car to last for 3-5 more years (3-5 year goal). Higher levels interact with each other in compicated ways. For example, I am starting a major financial review, renovating the first floor of our home, and giving the wedding and wedding reception for our daughter. Since all three projects involve money and time in a major way, they interact. Two of them will be fininished this month, while the third will go on for about six months but have lifetime consequences.

                    Another point: all my projects are important at some level. If you take the attitude that only important projects are worth your time, you will do a bad job on the "less important" projects. You have to give all your projects the attention they need, not more, but not less. I struggle with this, and I think most people do.

                    Originally posted by njnjboy
                    I think that I'm missing the boat here. I'm really good at keeping to the system and getting through the daily day-to-day projects. However, when I climb to higher levels, things start to fall apart. Perhaps one problem is the tool I use (just memopad from palm), perhaps another problem is my general approach.

                    Can you provide details (in more concrete steps) of how you break down and distinguish 1-2 year goals from daily stuff from lifetime?

                    Also - what tool do you use for both higher level organization and day to day curve balls?
                    I have a category on my palm called "Review 20K-50K" where I put the higher level stuff. There's aren't that many items, honestly, and it helps to see them all together. They do not really form a hierarchy.

                    Originally posted by njnjboy
                    Ok - so you're indicating that I need to clarify the outcomes that I would like to have (granted - whether they happen or not is a different story...I could drop dead at any time). That's the frustrating part for me - the fuzziness of defining such outcomes without concrete steps verus outcomes that are clearly defined (i.e. the curve balls). I know I'm being retentive about this, but I can't help but feel that I'm missing the point.

                    Ok - so as you said the meaning of the goal changes over time. One big problem (again - perhaps a tool issue) is reflecting this change in meaning across the concrete projects that form the steps for this goal. A change in meaning ultimately translates to a change in concrete actions. So if the child college costs will reduce my savings, then my projects that support the financial security goal will change in terms of concrete next actions...how do you push that change out to all projects supporting the "financial security" goal?

                    (sigh) I'm not sure that I'm clear about a good approach for this, though it's clear I have some issues in terms of long range planning

                    njnjboy
                    Let's go back to finances, since this is an issue for most people. Let's say you want financial security, which might mean that you are comfortable with long-range prospects, have a decent income stream to support current lifestyle, and have the ability to absorb reasonable financial setbacks. Are these three things true at this time? If not, what needs to be done to make them true? Once you know what needs to be done, you can think about whether those things are projects, 1-2 year goals, or whatever. For example, let's say you have $10K of credit card debt, which needs to be paid down. You may have options: home-equity loan, take from savings, bankruptcy, switch credit cards, get a better-paying job, et cetera. The horizons flow from the choices you make. Suppose you find out that you would need to pay $40K/year to send your daughter to MIT for four years. You can't just set a goal, you need to think things through. Perhaps you have a next-action item to talk to your spouse or your daughter, a project of reviewing current finances. a 3-5 year goal of looking further ahead with your next child. As DA says, we live on all these levels.

                    Hope this helps.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have only skimmed through this post, so forgive me if I'm off base.

                      However, you may find Charles R Hobbs book - Time Power useful (ISBN 0-06-091490-4 (Paperback). He spends a good amount of time on higher order issues and their incorporation into ones day to day life. Hobbs by way of background is/appears to be the "grandfather" of time management programs. Having just gone back over his book it is as fresh today as when it was first written. Please note that if you want to get a copy you will need to look on the 2nd hand market.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ReBuild
                        I have only skimmed through this post, so forgive me if I'm off base.

                        However, you may find Charles R Hobbs book - Time Power useful (ISBN 0-06-091490-4 (Paperback). He spends a good amount of time on higher order issues and their incorporation into ones day to day life. Hobbs by way of background is/appears to be the "grandfather" of time management programs. Having just gone back over his book it is as fresh today as when it was first written. Please note that if you want to get a copy you will need to look on the 2nd hand market.
                        I have the Hobbs book, and have read it several times. The Franklin part of Franklin-Covey, i.e. Hyrum Smith rather than Covey, derives from Hobbs. Smith's books are better, in my opinion, but honestly, top-down planning never worked very well for me. Jenny Ditzler's book, Your Best Year Yet, is a pretty good guided exploration of the higher altitudes, and in print. You can easily layer any of the popular schemes (e.g. values, roles, goals) on top of projects and next actions if you want. It's no big deal to try some of the exercises in, say, one of Covey's books. If they provide clarity and focus for you, fine, and if not, try something else. Some of the exercises used in some books may have impact only the first time you see them. Ditler's book is good for me, because it's easily reusable.
                        Last edited by mcogilvie; 05-12-2006, 07:48 AM.

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                        • #13
                          The Big Aha

                          Originally posted by jpm
                          David spoke about this at Roadmap in San Francisco and it really wasn't until then that I got it. He was speaking specifically about linking next actions to projects on the Palm, but the principle applies to the higher perspectives as well.

                          jpm
                          I went to the Roadmap in Minneapolis. I had been confused by this very issue, but it wasn't until David spoke about the Horizons of Focus that I finally understood it. His example was extremely simple but extremely useful. It's important to understand the 5 levels and to keep them separate (I think that someone here blended 0k and 10k). I am starting to learn that only when you keep them separate, but see that they are related- that it works. An example could be dinner out with the wife (project, 10k) which simultaneously links to 20k (being a loving husband area of focus) but also to 0k call and get reservations at restaurant. The levels are Interrelated, but also independent. This was a huge breakthrough for me... I finally had a place to store those fuzzier higher altitude items I wanted to track. For those that havent been to the Roadmap, its worth it.

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                          • #14
                            Sometimes it's funny to realize that being a father or a husband is a Project

                            Life is life and being a husband is a job as well But not paid though

                            Regards

                            Eugene.

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                            • #15
                              Hello Katherine,

                              Thank you for your response.

                              Originally posted by kewms
                              ...
                              First of all, how is it possible for something you have to do to *not* lie within one of your areas of responsibility? If you aren't responsible for it, you don't have to do it, right?

                              And no, I'm not just playing semantic games. My point is that things like "fix bathroom" or "take car to shop" are every bit as important to "spend meaningful time with spouse" as flowers and nice dinners. A spouse who has to call the plumber and gets stranded by the side of the road just isn't going to be open to anything you have to say. Would you be?
                              You're absolutley right that it's part of some area of responsiblity. However, my issue is being able to cohesively view the 40k view of the area of responsiblity of "have a great relationship with my spouse" while combining it with the day-to-day stuff that shows up like "fix the car" which affects this area of responsiblity. The tools part does affect this in the sense that being able to rapidly change "magnification" of the projects that underlie an area of responsibility helps flow. In other words, if I am planning the above area of responsiblity during a yearly 40k view and I have a bunch of projects related to it (with their concrete steps): "do something unusual every month" (obviously - this would need concrete steps), "assist with her xyz project", etc... - this is all fine and good on 40k level. But then the "fix the car" crops up and the nice 40k view of overall approach to this area of responsiblity falls apart as the day to day curve balls get in the way.

                              So my question(s) deal with how do you combine the macro of the 40k view with the micro of the day-to-day stuff that crops up within the various areas of responsibilities.


                              Originally posted by kewms
                              ...
                              Second of all, I'm not sure I understand your question:

                              """
                              3. How do you cohesively organize which NA of which project in a particular (birds eye) category will be done so that you're marching forward in accomplishing your overall birds-eye category? (i.e. sequence in time...I'm not talking about context here).
                              """


                              There are only two possible ways to move a category forward: discrete Next Actions (Go to gym Thursday.) and current projects (Buy new running shoes). (You can have Someday/Maybe projects too -- run Boston Marathon, say -- but they aren't moving the category forward.)

                              So, you sit down at your Weekly Review, and you ask yourself which actions and which projects you want to do this week. And you do them. And then you do another Weekly Review. And so forth. Many people, myself included, find it helpful to do Monthly and Annual Reviews as well. I like to see what I have planned for the month and see how I'm doing on my goals for the year. But it all comes down to Weekly Reviews, Next Actions, and Projects.

                              From there, it isn't clear whether your difficulty is in setting goals in the first place, or in capturing the results of your planning in your system. Even if it's both, you might find it best to use the simplest possible tools (pen and paper, maybe?) while you work out the goals. Finding a capture system is the easy part.

                              I do the Weekly Reviews, Next Actions, and Project as you state. However, I feel that my view of the higher level 40k view is not there. Perhaps you're right - perhaps it is goal setting. I just don't see a clear methodology in translating the yearly goals to concrete projects in such a way that I don't lose the perspective of the overall goal while unexpected projects crop up in particular areas of responsibilities noisily drowning out the overall direction and high level goals supporting an area of responsiblity.

                              njnjboy

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