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  • Beyond 10,000 ft

    Hey.
    Kind of new to GTD but have been using the methodology for some time now.
    I must admit that it was life changing to get everything out of my head, all of my projects defined in one place and a method to follow where I really got thing done! I still have a 120Mb mail box but I feel much more stress free about it – yes it should be zero inbox but I’m not there yet ;=)
    As I search the net for good hardware/software to use I found tons of information and good programs handling the ‘Runway’ and ‘project’ level . Almost everything I come across regarding GTD is about this levels ! Of course this is where all the things is getting done but I am not sure that the right things is getting done. What about the 20,000-50,000 levels ? I lack information on how to use this levels to steer NextAction/projects to what is really important. If you don’t take this levels into account when prioritizing Actions you will never reach the important and meaningful stuff. You will just end up doing some Reactive behaviour but a little more sophisticated !
    Where do I find beyond 10,000 ft material ?

  • #2
    Congratulations on a successful start to your journey. You're learning the moves to knowledge work athletics.

    Before you worry too much about the higher altitudes, make sure you get the first two completely under control. If you're still filing anything in your head, you'll have a harder time focusing on the higher altitudes.

    The book discusses these higher altitudes briefly but essentially the same rules apply to areas of focus, goals, and purpose. You need a complete inventory of all of them outside of your head and you need to review them regularly to see if they are the way you want them to be...and if they are not, you need to define some projects and next actions to get them back on track. You can use lists, mindmaps, or any other way you choose to create this inventory. I attached a sample mind map of David Allen's focus areas at one point in his life to this post.

    My 20,000 ft areas of focus include:
    • Career
    • Finances
    • Health and Vitality
    • Home
    • Personal Growth
    • Recreation
    • Relationships
    • Roles
      • Christian
      • Employee
      • GTD Coach
      • Husband
      • Son
      • Systems Analyst (my Job Description)

    Notice I only have about 6-8 key areas. I've broken it down further in a mind map to help trigger thoughts when I review this list, but these are the primary components.

    Once a month I look at this list and ask myself how I'm doing in these areas of my life. I identify the weak areas, decide to make them better, clarify my outcome, and decide the next action. I do the same things with areas that aren't weak but I want to take them to the next level.

    I also do the same thing with things like my 30,000 and 40,000 goals like short-term fitness goals or long-term financial goals. Goal setting techniques are not heavily discussed in GTD; you might have to turn to some other experts for advice on how to set effective goals for yourself. Anthony Robbins has done some brilliant work in this area. You might want to check out Personal Power for some insights.

    As far as your 50,000 ft life purpose, you can start by deciding what you want your life to mean now even if it's something as simple as a resolutions like "I will live a life of joy, service, and fulfillment". Your mission in life evolves, and your goals evolve around them. It's important to define and clarify the meaning of these things as the thoughts form in your mind.

    But just try to think about your goals when you've got a hundred things running around in your head. It's no wonder I had such trouble setting goals before GTD. So, get that e-mail Inbox to zero, empty it daily, and file nothing in your head. You'll notice that your brain starts to graduate into these higher areas naturally, and as you clarify them you'll tap more into the juice of life and get more and more excited.

    Best of luck!
    Attached Files

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Mikael View Post
      What about the 20,000-50,000 levels ? I lack information on how to use this levels to steer NextAction/projects to what is really important.
      The advanced workflow diagram (http://www.davidco.com/store/catalog...ed-p-16193.php) has a concise summary:

      50,000+ feet (life)
      40,000 feet (3-5 year visions)
      30,000 feet (1-2 year goals)
      20,000 feet (areas of responsibility)

      If you have clear visions and goals for these items, and you look at them regularly during your weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly reviews, they should begin to steer things at the lower levels naturally.

      - Don

      Comment


      • #4
        Regarding specific systems for defining and tracking the higher levels:

        I've found it's highly individual. Each person has his or her own system, and it's relatively ad hoc. Fortunately, you won't have nearly as many Areas of Focus as Next Actions, so you don't need a powerful system. Also, your Areas of Focus will change infrequently.

        Personally, I have pieces of paper stuck high on one wall of my studio; each piece of paper has an Area of Focus written on it in big letters. I glance at this occasionally, and I use it during my weekly review to remind myself to include at least one Project for each Area of Focus.

        A few other ways to keep track of Areas of Focus:
        • Notebook
        • Mind Map
        • Text file
        • Index cards

        Comment


        • #5
          ellobogrande, is link to the PDF file you have added to the post can be found somewhere in the interenet?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by flameup View Post
            ellobogrande, is link to the PDF file you have added to the post can be found somewhere in the interenet?
            Sorry, no. The image I attached is a JPG screen shot that I captured from an online seminar about mind mapping.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
              But just try to think about your goals when you've got a hundred things running around in your head. It's no wonder I had such trouble setting goals before GTD. So, get that e-mail Inbox to zero, empty it daily, and file nothing in your head. You'll notice that your brain starts to graduate into these higher areas naturally, and as you clarify them you'll tap more into the juice of life and get more and more excited.

              Mikael
              I'm sure you have already discovered that you can focus more intently on the task at hand. As your system matures and (more importantly) your *habits* of workflow processing develop you will find that you can switch tasks with little to no effort.

              What I found as the habits of workflow processing became more ingrained in my life is that I am more aware about the higher levels and areas of focus. This awareness, becomes intuition and guides my decision making - wether to begin or refuse a project because it does or does not align with those higher level goals.

              Like ellobogrande and others, I too review these roles and areas of focus periodically. I do this to review and evaluate my intution and refocus on areas that have been negected or need renewal.

              As many wise GTDers have said, GTD is a set of habits, not tools. I , like ellobogrande and others, I too review these roles and areas of focus periodically. I do this to review and evaluate my intution and refocus on areas that have been negected or need renewal. I dont think it is too early in the process to do this review. However don't confuse this review with the "weekly review" of your runway level projects and next actions. The review for higher levels may need to be done separately when you can devote a block of time and are in a frame of mind to do so.

              I have been doing a retreat/think weekend every year now to review this list. I originally wrote about it here: http://www.43folders.com/forum/2006/...-think-weekend

              While it has changed in format: I dont bring as much stuff, I dropped the internet access this year and I acknowlege that some of the weekend is simply a retreat to allow myself to relax and focus. I've been doing it for three years now and it has done me and my family lots of good.

              Congratulations on a great start and good luck.

              Comment


              • #8
                I've read through this thread a couple of times and I think there are a couple of key issues that have been missed. (Well maybe not but they are issues I've struggled with so they may be of use to somebody else.)

                First, the thing I would recommend is not to wait until you have mastered workflow to start thinking about higher altitudes. It's on your mind for a reason so go ahead and put some thought into it. Don't worry about getting it perfect, just focus on getting it better. I've been GTD'ing for almost four years now and I'm far from perfect but constantly improving at all levels. The more you use GTD the better you will get at all levels.

                One of the reasons I think higher levels are so important is that GTD can lead you to a bias toward action. This can result in very long next action and project lists which can quickly become unmanageable and overwhelming. The most important place to know your higher altitudes is when you're processing your inbox and you pick up the next "stuff" and ask yourself the question "What is it? Is it actionable?"

                Without a clear set of higher altitude priorities, I think people have a tendancy to answer the second question "Yes" far, far, far to often. I know when I first started GTD I did. I sometimes have a tendancy to still do that. (I schedule a friday morning every month to do a 20,000 ft review where I go through my projects list and identify projects that don't align with higher altitudes to drop.)

                This part of altitudes is all about having the discipline to say NO. It's a two letter word that should probably be a lot more frequently by many of us.

                Looking at the advance workflow diagram, when you have 300-400 inputs per day and if most of those are actionable, then even if they are only two minute actions you're looking at 10-14 hours of work per day just processing your inbox. If a few of them take longer than 2-5 minutes your in real trouble.

                Hitting that hook shot to the circular file or the electronic equivilent DELETE is much faster and can result in a lot more stress free productivity...

                The second place that I think altitudes need to come into play is in the do phase. Take a look again at the advanced workflow diagram. In the middle of this section are the words: "PREDEFINED WORK (takes discipline)". This means either working from your list or your calendar. The one area where I think GTD misses things is the importance of blocking time on your calendar for you most important outcomes. Not everything needs to go on the calendar, but I find that I make more progress toward my most important outcomes when I schedule time on the calendar to focus on them.

                hope this helps...

                Comment


                • #9
                  100%, violent agreement with everything that jpm wrote.

                  I also want to publicly express my love of the term "circular file" for the trash can.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Combining methods

                    Thanks a lot for all your responses on beyond 10,000 !
                    I came to a point, just as "jmp" warned of, were my action and project lists just got to big for me to handle. This created a big stress not being able to handle all this things. I followed "ellobogrande" advice and listen to Anthony Robbins and I also found that Franklin Coveys 'First things first' and the '7 habits ...' was very useful knowledge. It was for me kind of "bullseye" ! I really recommend you listen to this material. Using this insight I think I will be able to really target the projects that are important and at the same time be able to understand and accept dropping the projects that I actually don't need and not feel guilty about it.
                    I think a merge between Franklin Covey and GTD would be a perfect methodology ?! Has anyone tried combining these two and would it be a realistic way of planning ?

                    Regard Mikael

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mikael View Post
                      I think a merge between Franklin Covey and GTD would be a perfect methodology ?! Has anyone tried combining these two and would it be a realistic way of planning ?
                      I've been playing with this for about half a year now, and I think it works fantastically.

                      GTD is great at the runway level, but it only provides a framework for the higher levels. F/C provides a methodology at the higher altitudes, but is not so hot at the runway.

                      The point where they merge (daily planning) is where it gets interesting.

                      At the start of each week, I identify several projects from my GTD projects list that I want to focus on for the week. I mark these down on a 'weekly compass'.

                      Next, I decide how far I want to get on each project (identifying milestones). Then I plan for each day what milestones I need to accomplish in order to meet my weekly goal. I don't worry about setting priorities at this point... I just jot them down on the task list for that day.

                      One of the keys to the F/C system, and it definitely applies here, is the daily review. I spend 15 minutes at the beginning of each day to review the day's appointments, the weekly compass, the planned "big rocks" for the next couple of days, and my current GTD projects and next actions. I also add any next actions that have become urgent to the day's list.

                      I work towards the milestones identified for the day before anything else. When I hit a break point which prevents me from working further towards any of the day's milestones, or if I reach them all, or if I just need a mental break, then I work from my GTD next actions list.

                      The really interesting thing that I learned from this is that GTD really helped me define my roles, goals, values, and purpose (stuff that I had struggled with when F/C was my primary approach). Just by looking at each project that I had committed to, and asking, "why is this important to me?" I was able to define my higher altitudes, and that helped me reduce the amount of less-than-important work in my life.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thank you for your response !
                        I know that this is probably the wrong forum ;=) but may I ask what kind of HW/SW you use ?
                        I'm looking for a good system to use but I just can't decide
                        Currently using Excel.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hybrid GTD and Covey

                          I've been working with a hybrid of GTD and Covey for a few years. I use GTD for organising the runway level & 10,000. The Covey elements help me prioritise & work out what the most important things are to pursue. Equally important is how I should be conducting myself in the execution of actions.

                          A couple of view points:

                          1) I use my calender (hard landscape) to capture 'big rock' events and activities. Whist these may not fall into the true GTD definition of time critical - having them there and working other Next Actions around them is really beneficial.

                          2) For me Seven Habits is broader and deeper for example the habit of 'seeking first to understand and then be understood' is incredibly powerful and complimentary for GTD. It took me a while to accept in my own mind that I could have a hybrid system - I'm really glad I did.

                          3) The 40,000 and 50,000 elements of GTD for me are the weaker components of the book. I'm interested if this gets picked up in more detail in the new DA book. I've read and listened to other work from DA and typically he has bright and insightful contributions to make. I know the book will be on my wish list for the holiday season.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What a great thread! I am wrestling with the same conflicts -- thanks for the thoughts.

                            I agree that looking at projects does provide insight into higher levels -- that is, you can abstract roles and values from where you are spending your time. Equally interesting, once you abstract those roles and values from actual physical commitments of time and energy (projects and next actions), you can see what is missing. That starts the thinking process, which can then lead to different allocations of time and energy, different projects.

                            Rob

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Mission your self to the right airport

                              I just picked up Anthony Robbins Getting the Edge and Personal Power.
                              There seems to be lots of 40,000 and 50,000 level stuff here !
                              Have any of you listen to his material ? Don't know if it complements F/C or are in conflict but very interesting anyhow.
                              I totally agree that by "implementing" F/C habits it has a tremendous impact on what projects goes into the list and when they will be executed.
                              I'm trying to filter every project through the 'First Things First' habit but I guess it takes sometime to get the feel of what quadrant projects/actions really belongs to. How do you use FTF habit ?
                              -Mikael

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