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  • Connecting Projects to Areas of Responsibility

    Lots of people talk about relating Next Actions to Projects. Lots has been written about it, and I don't really have anything to add to that discussion.

    I don't think I've seen much about moving in the other direction -- relating Projects (10,000 foot level) to the next higher level of Areas of Responsibility (20,000 foot level).

    I only recently got around to drafting up my Areas of Responsibility, which was a useful process. But I thought it might be more useful to connect it back to the Project level.

    In short: it was. I made a page for each Area of Responsibility. Then I churned through all my Projects (and then my Someday/Maybe folder) and wrote the relevant projects on the Area of Responsibility pages. I broke each page down into three parts: Active Projects (things I'm actively working on right now), Inactive Projects (projects that are technically alive but that I'm not really working on, sometimes due to delegation or scheduling), and Someday/Maybe.

    It's interesting. Some projects covered more than one AoR, and I think those are the sorts of projects I need more of. A few projects didn't really fall into any AoR, which gave me a pretty good reason to think about why I was doing them at all.

    From the AoR perspective, some areas had lots of Active Projects. Some had lots of Someday/Maybes, which made me think about whether I shouldn't activate some of them, or at least think about what was happening with the balance. And some AoRs had very few projects at all, which was also a wake-up call.

    Of all the things I've done with GTD, I found this one the hardest on an emotional level. It's just hard to take an objective look and see that, yep, being a Good Husband is one of my Areas of Responsibility, and nope, I'm not really doing anything to make that happen. So if you're trying this at home, be ready for it.

    Just thought I'd share my experiences with everyone. If you've tried this yourself, please let me know how it went.



    Cheers,
    Roger

  • #2
    I would normally map Area's of Responsibilities as a big project in my Appigo ToDo and sub-projects will fall in these big projects list.

    But i do agree its abit strange deciding thinks like being responsible to your family those sort of stuff.

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    • #3
      I also found that some areas of responsibility had no projects or next actions associated with them. But what I realized is that I was still fulfilling my responsibilities in those areas. So I made a separate list of things that I am already doing in each area of responsibility. That made it more balanced and realistic.

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      • #4
        I make a plan every year starting by reviewing my areas of responsability, deciding my goals for the present year on each of these areas, and deriving my projects from those goals. So the link is very clear to me.
        Last edited by Marcelo; 10-16-2009, 12:44 AM. Reason: clarity

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        • #5
          I don't recall where, but I believe DA recommends a monthly review of Areas of Responsibility, connecting them with Projects in a similar way that the weekly review connects Projects to Actions.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Brent View Post
            I don't recall where, but I believe DA recommends a monthly review of Areas of Responsibility, connecting them with Projects in a similar way that the weekly review connects Projects to Actions.
            Whoa, so Areas of Responsibility, AKA Levels of Focus, The 5 Horizons?

            I've been writing/updating in each level much more frequently..

            10K FT: Weekly
            20K FT: Every 2 Weeks
            30K FT: Every 3 Weeks
            Etc....

            What sucks about doing this is that not too much can be added when updating and thinking about each level. This doing it Once a month thing seems like I'd enjoy better.

            Recently I've been putting off writing on the horizons of focus cause it seemed overwhelming to write in 5 different documents on my computer. It became one of those repetitive actions that you automatically somewhat-subconsciously ignore.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Roger View Post
              I don't think I've seen much about moving in the other direction -- relating Projects (10,000 foot level) to the next higher level of Areas of Responsibility (20,000 foot level)........If you've tried this yourself, please let me know how it went.
              Last weekly review I did a very careful review of the higher levels as well as projects. I was expecting to uncover a few that were slacking but in reality I have projects in all my areas, the number of projects corresponds to the importance I give to those areas and all seem in line with larger goals and purpose.

              One factor may be that I set up my organization tool to include folders for each major area of focus so I always have a view of what areas have projects and which ones don't. I usually catch that at weekly review but without thinking about it much.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by HappyDude View Post
                Whoa, so Areas of Responsibility, AKA Levels of Focus, The 5 Horizons?

                I've been writing/updating in each level much more frequently..

                10K FT: Weekly
                20K FT: Every 2 Weeks
                30K FT: Every 3 Weeks
                Etc....
                Yeah, I don't think it needs to be that frequent.

                But it should be done regularly, at least.

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                • #9
                  I think the OP sumarizes very well what 's going on with the 20k-level list. Thanks go to the OP for that. Secondly I want to add a few tokens.

                  1. The 20k-level is the first representation of the horizontal level. Than there is a repetition of that on a broader scale at the 50k-level.
                  The 40k-level is somewhat horizontal. The 0k, 10k and 30k a strictly vertical.

                  2. The 20k-list proved to be a helpful tool for me to decide if a project really is a 30k-goal. It acts like a scythe that cuts projects that grew rampant in a similiar fashion like the definition of when an action becomes a project.

                  3. Some projects cover more than one 20k-level item. That makes it complicated to always keep projects sorted by Areas of Focus. Also such a grouping, while helpful as a tool (like OP describes), is not rpresentation of reality because life is interconected. For example if you complete your fitness goals regularly it also will help you with endurance on your job.

                  4. For me the well-defined and refined 20k-level helped me to stabilize my self more than any of the other lists. It is the answer at least for me to de big what-to-do question. Somehow I tend to think on that level more than on others. I am interested in thougths on that.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
                    I think the OP sumarizes very well what 's going on with the 20k-level list. Thanks go to the OP for that.
                    What is the OP?

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                    • #11
                      OP == Original Poster or Original Post

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
                        3. Some projects cover more than one 20k-level item. That makes it complicated to always keep projects sorted by Areas of Focus. Also such a grouping, while helpful as a tool (like OP describes), is not rpresentation of reality because life is interconected. For example if you complete your fitness goals regularly it also will help you with endurance on your job.
                        Definitely, some projects (or habits and even single actions) serve more than one area of focus (or goal or project). I call these "multi-purpose" and in my system they get high priority.

                        An example: In the city, I use only my bicycle as a means of transportation. 1. This ensures me a daily cardiovascular workout (health), 2. I get everywhere faster than by car (time-saving), 3. I save money (finances), 4. As an environmentally conscious person, I contribute to reduce air pollution and noice in the city, giving thereby expression to my values and assuming responsability for the community (values, self-expression) and last but not least 5. It gives me joy (no special AoF here, some things remain out of the box).
                        Last edited by Marcelo; 10-19-2009, 12:53 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for your comments.

                          Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
                          2. The 20k-list proved to be a helpful tool for me to decide if a project really is a 30k-goal. It acts like a scythe that cuts projects that grew rampant in a similiar fashion like the definition of when an action becomes a project.
                          I haven't run into this too much myself, but I also haven't really taken a good hard look at the 30K level either. It wouldn't surprise me if I run into it.

                          Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
                          3. Some projects cover more than one 20k-level item. That makes it complicated to always keep projects sorted by Areas of Focus.
                          Yep. I haven't really been using it as an organizational or categorizing sort of thing -- more like a "tag cloud", I guess.

                          Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
                          4. For me the well-defined and refined 20k-level helped me to stabilize my self more than any of the other lists. It is the answer at least for me to de big what-to-do question. Somehow I tend to think on that level more than on others. I am interested in thougths on that.
                          I think I'm finding a similar sort of pattern in my own life. I tend towards the CrazyMaker quadrant and it helps keep that under control.


                          Cheers,
                          Roger

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Roger View Post
                            I think I'm finding a similar sort of pattern in my own life. I tend towards the CrazyMaker quadrant and it helps keep that under control.
                            Interesting way to describe it. Yes, I guess I have my own CrayzMaker tendencies. I think part of it is the fear to miss out on something if one has not "a project" running there. Or having "a project" as a language for absorbing new things in ones universe.

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                            • #15
                              does anyone link next actions to an area/horizon of focus rather than to a project?

                              i'm finding that i have many tasks that are single-step, thus don't belong as a project, and they belong to the 20,000 ft level, and I want to track all of those items that belong to that level.

                              For example, I want to buy a treadmill at XYZ store, it is part of my 20,000ft level responsibility of 'keep healthy'. i'd like to be able to quickly review all the individual next actions that are part of the 'keep healthy' level responsibility, the ones which are not part of a project.

                              to draw my question graphically:

                              next actions -> projects -> responsibilities
                              next actions -> responsibilities ?

                              i'm also wondering if this would be overkill, and if it isn't overkill, how would you manage all of this?

                              one idea i have is to create a 'project' called "keep healthy - Tracking nonproject nextactions"

                              thoughts?

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