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  • Areas of Focus

    I've searched, but cannot seem to find a post or a thread that was eye-opening to me re the areas of focus. I should have recorded it at the time I saw it, but thought I could come back to it at any time. Now I can't find it.

    Can someone please define "areas of focus" in relationship to "goals & objectives" and "projects". I'm mapping my HOFs and am confused on exactly how I can link the areas of focus between the other two horizons.

  • #2
    Areas of focus is a list of categories that you should regularly re-read and use to brainstorm new goals or projects. The point is to make sure an area of your life that's important to you isn't overlooked - say, you're so busy working on your business that you neglect your personal relationships for a year.

    Here's my list, if that helps:

    Business customer service
    Business finances
    Business growth
    Business research & development
    Business sales
    Cats
    Personal finances
    Personal happiness
    Personal health
    Personal intellectual growth
    Personal relationships
    Personal spirituality
    Personal surroundings

    Areas of focus are simply "areas that are important to me." Your goals would fall under different areas of focus, and your projects are specific tasks toward achieving those goals. Does that make sense?

    Comment


    • #3
      The distinction of projects from areas of focus

      As David explains it, areas of focus sits above projects, at the 20,000 ft level, and can be managed as a checklist to review, not necessarily every week, maybe monthly, quarterly or yearly. The checklist can help you identify areas that need more attention and you would formulate a project within the area of focus to achieve a specific desired outcome. For example, if I've been a bit of a recluse lately I might consider my focus area "friends" and decide I want to arrange a hill walking weekend in the Lake District (a project). It kind of helps keeping your life balanced. The areas of focus should cover your life with no gaps, so to speak.

      Above areas of focus are larger goals and objectives at 30,000. To me, being a computer person, it's a mis-match of types to have open-ended stuff like areas of focus in between two levels of goals, but when I think of the larger goals as choices that would impact my areas of focus, it makes sense.

      I have generic things on my list, such as health, finance, and family, and then my key hobbies and interests. Mind you, I don't always have projects in every area, especially not the hobby ones.

      There's a short article and a teleseminar on GTD Connect, and you can also simply search for "areas of focus" or "horizons of focus".

      Hope that's helpful.

      Christina

      Comment


      • #4
        A Project is "Write article."

        An Area of Focus is "Become a published author."

        You can think of an Area of Focus as a big container for many projects, all relating to a broad goal in your life.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by sdann View Post
          Can someone please define "areas of focus" in relationship to "goals & objectives" and "projects".
          Im interested in this too. I combine visions and life purpose as one level. I have a personal statement of purpose that is really the life portion or 50K level that I review on the solstices and equinoxes. I also have well defined goals for the sheep flock and for the farm as a whole some of which are multiple decades long. That is where I sort of combine the 40K and 30K sections into one. The time lines of what the various levels are do not work well for me because I have projects that will take decades or even more than one lifetime.

          Below that are the areas of responsibility. For me they are the logical divisions under which projects happen.

          My own areas of focus are
          Family & Friends
          Health
          Household (house cleaning type stuff)
          Sheep (Specific to the animals themselves)
          Poultry (ditto)
          Horses (ditto)
          Wool (all fleece, roving and yarn stuff)
          Hay Barn (projects surrounding hay and winter feeidng including winter corrals)
          Red Barn (poultry infrastructure is here)
          Shop (being built so has several projects with it)
          Sewing
          Weaving
          Spinning
          Knitting and Naalbinding
          Quilting
          Scrapbooks
          Main House
          Guest House
          I also have areas for each major land division like Main Pasture, West side pasture, Guest House garden, etc. that are part of our overall farm planning document.

          An example of all the levels I am using would be:

          A statement in my personal purpose is that "I develop & implement sustainable systems to breed rare & endangered livestock & plant species, breeds & bloodlines." That's the 50K or life level

          A goal below that is "We maintain at least 4 distinct bloodlines in a sustainable breeding program in our flock. We are using a modified form of the Conservation Breeding Guidelines by ALBC." This is both my 40K and 30K level because the timeframes are long.

          That ties into the Sheep category of focus which is the 20K level and then projects under that are things like

          "Decide on matings for 2009 lambs to reduce inbreeding in the Gwen line while preserving their lovely wool quality." This is one of the current projects in Sheep.

          The next action for that project is to "Calculate inbreeding coefficients on lambs out of Gwenllian, Gwenlliant, Gwenifer, Gwenda et al if mated to Heilyn, Hamish or Jared". It's listed in the context of @computer with a deadline of fall before we sort ewes into breeding groups.

          Does that help?

          Comment


          • #6
            Those were really good examples, Oogiem! I don't know that I would call "become a published author" an area of focus (as Brent suggested) as that is clearly something that can be achieved. I'd call that a 30.000 ft objective. As an area of focus I'd have "creative writing".

            My 2 cents

            C

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ChristinaSkaskiw View Post
              Above areas of focus are larger goals and objectives at 30,000. To me, being a computer person, it's a mis-match of types to have open-ended stuff like areas of focus in between two levels of goals, but when I think of the larger goals as choices that would impact my areas of focus, it makes sense.
              Have to admit that having those open-ended areas of focus at the 20,000 feet level never made any sense to me and still doesn't. That's why I used the 20,000 feet level for my current responsibilities and real projects (pm projects).

              Those open-ended areas of focus where I work at my attitude goals I keep outside of my gtd system, especially by journaling and discussions with certain persons I know. The results of this self-motivational work gets fed into my gtd system on various levels.

              E.g., when I want to change my attitude regarding a certain part of my job, I first need to find out what I don't want and what I want, find a usable motive (what do I want to change about that part of my job?), decide to go into that new direction and build an intention, i.e. a new attitude regarding that part of my job that bugs me. What ever it is that is the consequence of the new intention gets written into my gtd system, maybe a certain action or a new project or whatever.

              Rainer

              Comment


              • #8
                Interview with David Allen at precisionchange.com

                In the last few days I just listened to Duff McDuffee's 3-part interview with David over at www.precisionchange.com (Episodes 8, 9 & 10). Episode 10 had what I thought was a GREAT explanation of the ways the projects, areas of focus & goals fit together. It is near the beginning of that segment but I was driving so I don't have notes on what exactly they said... but I thought it was very helpful. Check it out, and maybe someone else can summarize it for us here?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rainer Burmeister View Post
                  Have to admit that having those open-ended areas of focus at the 20,000 feet level never made any sense to me and still doesn't. That's why I used the 20,000 feet level for my current responsibilities and real projects (pm projects).
                  Why do you do your job? Why did you accept your current responsibilities?

                  What turns you on, excites you, inspires you? How often do you get to do those things? Could you be doing them more often?

                  Integrating the 20,000-foot view helps you to do those things more. It provides you with a perspective on those real projects, and their larger worth.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Areas of Focus, according to pages 205-6 of the GTD book are roles, job descriptions, or areas of responsibility.

                    Generic examples from the book:

                    Professional: staff development, marketing, facilities management, asset management.

                    Personal: parent, spouse, health, community service, home management, financial management, creative expression.


                    My areas of focus are:

                    Personal: academia, father, financial freedom, fitness, health, home, husband, renewal, son.

                    Work: finance, human resources, information technology, inventory control, manufacturing management, office, property management, purchasing, and sales.

                    My system is a digital, hierarchical list. In plain English: it's an outline. I use Areas of Focus as the top level of the outline.

                    The level beneath the area of focus is the project. The level beneath the project is the action.

                    For example:

                    Area of Focus: Manufacturing Management
                    Project: Both label printers running
                    Next Action: call Barbara to find out if cutter-stacker shipped

                    Area of Focus: Academia
                    Project: Fall 2008 course prepared
                    Next Action: photocopy plagiarism reporting form

                    Any time that I enter an action into my trusted system, I put it under an area of focus.

                    I found it a useful exercise to create these areas of focus. If you use your system regularly, you will quickly find out if the areas you have created work for you. If you keep creating projects that have no clear area of focus, you need to revise your list of areas.

                    I don't use LifeBalance, but I believe that what they call Top Level Items correspond to areas of focus.

                    One possible objection to my use of areas of focus is that there can be some ambiguity and lack of clarity regarding their borders. For example, I am taking a week's vacation in August. I will do this with my wife and my son. Is the vacation about my own Renewal, is it about being a good Husband to my wife, or is it about being a good Father to my son? It's all of these. In my description of each area I have noted that vacations go in renewal, but there will always be some fuzziness. In actual practice, I haven't found this to be a problem. Since my list is digital, I just do a digital search for "vacation" to find the relevant action.

                    From a broader perspective, I find it useful to see all my Purchasing projects together in one place, all my Sales projects in another, and all my Home projects another. It's an excellent way to organize my actions and projects. It is important to note that areas of focus are independent of contexts. I might have a next action to buy a mousetrap. Its context is "Errands" while its area of focus is "Home." I might have another next action to review the GTD book's discussion of file folders. Its context would be "Home" while its area of focus would be "Office."

                    It takes but a second to put each action in an area. It also clearly demonstrates that many areas of focus do not have a whole lot going on while other areas are bursting at the seams.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      These posts are helping me very much. Some questions though, should one link areas of focus to your goals and objectives and, if so, how? Can one area of focus relate back to several goals/objectives? Or do the HOFs have to work like pyramids?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by sdann View Post
                        These posts are helping me very much. Some questions though, should one link areas of focus to your goals and objectives and, if so, how? Can one area of focus relate back to several goals/objectives? Or do the HOFs have to work like pyramids?
                        Areas of focus are implicitly linked to goals and objectives. If your goals and your areas of focus don't match, then one or the other needs to change. Whether to make an explicit link is up to you.

                        Katherine

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sdann View Post
                          These posts are helping me very much. Some questions though, should one link areas of focus to your goals and objectives and, if so, how? Can one area of focus relate back to several goals/objectives? Or do the HOFs have to work like pyramids?
                          I'd second a lot of what was said here. Areas of Focus (as long as other higher horizons of focus) are not actionable items, they are triggers for action items. Look through these trigger lists to fill your Project list with new projects. An area of focus could also trigger goals and objectives; but goals and objectives could trigger a new area of focus as well. All of that is interconnected. And yes, one area of focus could trigger or relate to several of goals. Why not? That interconnection adds motivation to your actions.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm finding that the more I accomplish, the more I want to and am able to achieve. However, I think the one part that is limiting me right now is having a clear vision of my updated horizons of focus. Therefore, I'm working on that this weekend. I am so grateful for any help or suggestions.

                            I've said it before, but these posts are helping me. Since the horizons are defined by thousand feet, I am somehow envisioning the whole HOF format in a pyramid shape, one horizon linking to the one below. However, perhaps I'm being too unimaginative in my interpretation. Do some of you ever link your goals (30k)directly to your projects (10k)? Or, should I connect them through the Areas of focus (20k)? Can I link a project to both an Area of Focus and a goal?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by sdann View Post
                              I've said it before, but these posts are helping me. Since the horizons are defined by thousand feet, I am somehow envisioning the whole HOF format in a pyramid shape, one horizon linking to the one below. However, perhaps I'm being too unimaginative in my interpretation. Do some of you ever link your goals (30k)directly to your projects (10k)? Or, should I connect them through the Areas of focus (20k)? Can I link a project to both an Area of Focus and a goal?
                              I don't maintain explicit links between goals and projects, or between projects and actions for that matter. Certainly you *could* maintain any level of links that you find helpful and that your system supports, but I've found that it adds too much overhead without really helping much.

                              Katherine

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