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  • Areas of Focus dilemma

    Getting muddled up with area of focus. I have read the forum and understand its about maintenance. However how would one distinguish between maintaining car and maintaining tire so as to avoid a conflict (see below)

    Whilst reviewing 20k you can't have maintain car and maintain tire in the same list because maintain tire is a subset of maintain car. That's my dilemma. An area of focus as i understand is one dimensional. You can't have subheadings inside your headings(?)

  • #2
    I would handle your specific example with a checklist and/or tickler reminders. Check tire pressure once per month, wash car once per week, that sort of thing.

    However, I think you're misunderstanding areas of focus at a more basic level. Unless I had an extremely unreliable car, or had a hobby related to cars, I wouldn't raise my car to that level. As I see it, areas of focus are more like what Covey calls "roles and goals." Things like "become MG restoration expert" or "become NASCAR driver." They're complex, high level targets that may require months or years of effort, if they are ever actually completed at all. (Do you ever finish "maintain healthy lifestyle" or "be a better husband and father?") Basic car maintenance would be more like an ongoing project, or perhaps a series of recurrent actions.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Gideon View Post
      Getting muddled up with area of focus. I have read the forum and understand its about maintenance. However how would one distinguish between maintaining car and maintaining tire so as to avoid a conflict (see below)

      Whilst reviewing 20k you can't have maintain car and maintain tire in the same list because maintain tire is a subset of maintain car. That's my dilemma. An area of focus as i understand is one dimensional. You can't have subheadings inside your headings(?)
      I can't see how "Maintain car" and "Maintain tire" would be an area of focus unless one were, say, a taxi cab driver. Areas of focus/responsibility are groupings of projects into the various areas of one's life. They might include such things as "Parent", "Spouse" and "Investing for retirement" on a personal level and "Staff development", "Training", and "Team Leader" on a professional level. They are "the hats you wear" (GTD, p. 205) in your life. Your car maintenance example might be encompassed in an area of focus like "household maintenance and upkeep" or something like that. That is, unless you are someone who's job it is to manage a fleet of vehicles. Then you might have an area of focus like "Vehicle Maintenance".

      I hope this helps.

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      • #4
        Maintain at Standards

        I also like the Areas of Focus description as a trigger reminder for potential actions & projects but not something you complete.

        I do that for my car.

        Specifically I have an item called, "Honda CR-V" (my golf cart of a car) and using Omni Focus I keep that item within a folder called "20,000 Foot - Areas of Focus". Attached as a note I keep a checklist of items to review such as tires, oil, wash, windshield fluid, routine maintenance, registration, inspection, etc.

        You could also keep a mind map or simple paper-based list of things but the main thing is I want to periodically review this item and go, "Yep I'm good" or "That reminds me to call dealer to schedule a maintenance appointment".

        - Mark

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        • #5
          Thanks for the response Katherine, that has helped me understand other areas of my focus from a personal perspective. However I think I better explain what i'm trying to do better. I work in the I.T industry and there are several areas I need to maintain otherwise things that are left neglected will have a consequential impact downstream-out of sight out of mind as they say. So what i did was created areas that would constantly need my attention- hence areas of focus. So i have 'shared infrastructure' 'Service desk support' 'IT Systems Support' and 'Backups'. These areas generate various projects, actions and routines. And it works fine however I have sticking points where, for example, maintain backups as an area of focus would conflict with maintain stock of blank tapes. And i'm in quandary as to put maintain stock of blank tapes in my area of focus rather than at 10k feet.

          By the way where would you put your checklist?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jon Walthour View Post
            They are "the hats you wear" (GTD, p. 205) in your life. Your car maintenance example might be encompassed in an area of focus like "household maintenance and upkeep" or something like that. That is, unless you are someone who's job it is to manage a fleet of vehicles. Then you might have an area of focus like "Vehicle Maintenance".
            That's very useful, it's given me food for thought thanks Jon

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Mark Jantzen View Post
              Specifically I have an item called, "Honda CR-V" (my golf cart of a car) and using Omni Focus I keep that item within a folder called "20,000 Foot - Areas of Focus". Attached as a note I keep a checklist of items to review such as tires, oil, wash, windshield fluid, routine maintenance, registration, inspection, etc.

              You could also keep a mind map or simple paper-based list of things but the main thing is I want to periodically review this item and go, "Yep I'm good" or "That reminds me to call dealer to schedule a maintenance appointment".


              - Mark


              Yes your on point, As i've expanded in my explanation to Katherine, I created areas of focus for the different things i need to be on top on, and each of those sections have a list of projects, next actions and routines that I need to keep moving. I use cluster maps for brainstorming (npm) and tracking what had been done and not done with a highlighter in my project plans

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              • #8
                Make sure you listen to the podcast a couple of podcasts ago that deals with this very issue: Areas of Focus. Specifically, the podcast compares areas to projects and points out where differences lie - quite informative. It reassured me that my own approach to areas was on point.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Gideon View Post
                  and understand its about maintenance.
                  Even DA sometimes makes this connection of AoF and maintenance. The thing is: the recurring maintenance work often _stems_ directly off from a 20k item (vs being part of a 10k project), but this doesn't make the recurring task itself a 20k-level item.

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                  • #10
                    You can have one Project that supports two Areas of Focus. Nothing wrong with that.

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                    • #11
                      I think the specific things you mention are areas of focus in your job, but the details of them might be best managed with checklists. There were a lot of comments in the weekly review on twitter last week, that checklists aren't used very much. They are perfect really for things that are actions, but aren't one offs.

                      Say for the focus of maintaining backups: You may have daily, weekly and monthly items to do stuff like checking storage capacity, making sure the backups have run, making sure they are working, etc etc. These are great for checklists, because you do them regularly and they are not likely to change much.
                      They might trigger actual projects as well, stuff like buy additional backup storage, stuff that is irregular or a one off.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gideon View Post
                        ... however I have sticking points where, for example, maintain backups as an area of focus would conflict with maintain stock of blank tapes. And i'm in quandary as to put maintain stock of blank tapes in my area of focus rather than at 10k feet.
                        I'm also an IT professional and, like you, have many plates to keep spinning. For me, the distinction in this area is what would go on your job description. Would it say, in a list of things for you to do, "Maintain backups"? Yes, quite likely. Would is say "Maintain tape stock"? Probably not. The difference is one of specificity. You are responsible for maintaining server backups. Part of that is, obviously seeing that you have an ample supply of tapes. So, "Maintain backups" could be an area of focus/responsibility, but "maintain tape stock" wouldn't. So, what do you do with the tape stock issue. It's still a problem. This can be addressed in a couple of different ways. I think the best way would be as an item in a tickler file or as an item on a checklist that goes in a tickler file. Let's say, there are several things you need to do/check on quarterly. These things become projects. You could list them on a piece of paper and put them in a tickler file with a note on it to tickle for every three months. Then, when you come to the day on which it sits, add the items on that checklist into your Projects list and have at them. In the case of "maintain backup tape stock," you may see that item and not add it because you've got plenty of tapes to get you through the next three months or you may not and choose to make it a project to complete.

                        Overall, the difference between a project and an area of focus is one of outcome. Does "Maintain tape stock" have an outcome? Yes. Periodically, it becomes a project to address with the outcome of "Have plenty of tapes for the next x months." On the other hand, "Maintain backups," in my mind, does not have a specific outcome. Now, could you argue that it does? Yes, you could say it's a project to be done every day where the outcome is to "All servers were confirmed to be backed up successfully last night." For me, it comes down to the illustration of a job description--what areas of responsibility would be delineated on it today?

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                        • #13
                          What is a Next Action? It's a reminder of what you want to be reminded on a daily basis. What is a Project? That's a reminder of what you want to be reminded on a weekly or be-weekly basis (it's up to you how often you look at this list). What is Area of Focus? It's a reminded of what you want to be remineded on a monthly basis. Now. Is a tire maintanance the thing you want to be reminded of monthly? Yes - then put it there, no - then put it somewhere you want to see it.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by kul View Post
                            What is a Next Action? It's a reminder of what you want to be reminded on a daily basis. What is a Project? That's a reminder of what you want to be reminded on a weekly or be-weekly basis (it's up to you how often you look at this list). What is Area of Focus? It's a reminded of what you want to be remineded on a monthly basis. Now. Is a tire maintanance the thing you want to be reminded of monthly? Yes - then put it there, no - then put it somewhere you want to see it.
                            This resembles in no way whatsowever, what DA wrote in his book(s).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It's not GTD.

                              Originally posted by kul View Post
                              What is a Next Action? It's a reminder of what you want to be reminded on a daily basis. What is a Project? That's a reminder of what you want to be reminded on a weekly or be-weekly basis (it's up to you how often you look at this list). What is Area of Focus? It's a reminded of what you want to be remineded on a monthly basis.
                              You've created your own definitions. It's OK but don't call it GTD. Read the book if you want to learn GTD.

                              In GTD:

                              Next Action = physical, visible action that you can take.

                              Project = a miniature goal, something that can be finished and marked off as "done"

                              Area of Focus = an area of your reality that you are particularly responsible for, interested in, or pay special attention to.

                              (definitions based on "Making It All Work" chapters 12-14)

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