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  • Using Renaissance Soul Focal Points as GTD Contexts

    I've been rereading "The Renaissance Soul" and "Getting Things Done" and have found a way to integrate the two that is working well for me for now.

    For those of us with far too many interests to pursue all at once, the concept presented in "The Renaissance Soul" of choosing several focal points as current priorities really works. These focal points can be changed whenever needed, but they can provide a sense of accomplishment by actually doing something toward a goal!

    The Someday/Maybe list is incredibly important to capture all those ideas and half-completed projects that I have chosen not to persue at present.

    But just as important is how to ensure that I am working toward the goals I've decided to work toward. It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day. The Renaissance Soul concept is to assign blocks of time in my schedule to work on Focal Points and at that time, decide what I want to do. This is very similar to the GTD contexts, although I had never thought of it that way before.

    For the past month or so, I have used my current four focal points as contexts (@Game Design @Family @Home Organization and @Get Fit. Within each, I list all the possible next actions that I could be doing. This way, when I have a block of time and decide to work on Focal Point 1, I can scan my Focal Point 1 next action list and choose what to do. The associated projects, waiting fors and someday/maybes are integrated with the general GTD system and it all gets reviewed "weekly" (I'm still working on that!). This has been working really well for me to remove these next actions from the main @home list and makes it easier to focus on what I have to do.

    I just thought I'd share, since the way other posters have used contexts has helped me so much. Maybe this will give others some useful ideas.

    Cheers,

    Siobhan

  • #2
    Hi Siobhan and thanks!

    I was wondering how this could be linked together, just came across this book and the concept of Focal Points today. I'm a scanner/renaissance soul too
    So that may be why I may have had a few difficulties with 'straight' GTD (?) in some aspects too.

    I think the Focal Points as you describe them might be what is called Areas of Focus in GTD rather than projects or straight contexts. (Well, if @Get Fit is always at the gym or other specific location/s, it might be considered a 'context' too.) I have special folders/binders for Family and Home Organization too. And I have a special folder for all AoFs of importance, wish I reviewed it more often though!
    The difference between projects and AoFs is well explained in the members area in a webinar, it was really helpful for me.

    It is easier for me too to divide things into sub-groups, especially as mostly don't have very specific contexts (such as work vs. train vs. home).

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    • #3
      Areas of Focus vs Focal Points

      Thanks for the response. Yes "Focal Points" are Areas of Focus but not all Areas of Focus are "Focal Points" at the present time.

      This is the way I'm mixing GTD and Renaissance Soul: in GTD, I list all my Areas of Focus and then other things I may want to do someday in another spot. But because I am a "Renaissance soul" I have way too many things in my Areas of Focus. In order to get some progress on them, I use the concept of defining just a few current "Focal Points" which I can change whenever or however I want. I definitely still do things on the other Areas of Focus and hence I like to keep them in there for weekly review. But when I sit down to work on my self-defined "focal points" I have found that having that list separate from the other contexts helps me to focus during that time.

      All of my current projects are in the main projects list, it is just the next actions that i've separated out. All the @focal point next actions could be on another context list (@home, @computer, @calls @work etc) but by separating them, I call attention to the things I have decided to focus on.

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      • #4
        The Renaissance Souls books kind of mixes together Allen's vision, goals and AOF.

        I think RS Focal Points would actually more akin to the "Vision" part of Allen's Horizons of Focus. Then you work back to specific goals that will move you toward that vision. The key is to limit yourself to no more than 3-4 points of that "Vision" in which to set goals, derive projects and take action. Those are your Focal Points.

        This is something I've been wrestling with for a while but if you look at Lowenstein's process it starts with defining 3-4 things you want to do (no matter how big) and then working your way back to specific objectives. You'll also note that she doesn't put timeframes on Focal Points. It might take 10 years to accomplish your FP which is more in line with a dream or vision for yourself.

        Best,

        Eric

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ero213 View Post
          The key is to limit yourself to no more than 3-4 points of that "Vision" in which to set goals, derive projects and take action. Those are your Focal Points.
          Yes "Focal Points" are Areas of Focus but not all Areas of Focus are "Focal Points" at the present time.
          The AoF list as described in the GTD book strives to be a complete, all-encompassing checklist of the 20k-level. So you can check the list wether you have everything or additional projects and actions need to be created.

          In contrast, Focal Points, Vision, Roles (Covey), Categories of Improvement (RPM), Now Goals (Workday Now) are all variations of another theme, where the key is to limit yourself to the most important. Where you discriminate to distilliate to focus on the right things. To paraphrase Covey: where you choose the wall(s) on which to lean your ladder.

          Last edited by Cpu_Modern; 12-03-2011, 05:44 PM. Reason: adjusting collahrs

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
            In contrast, Focal Points, Vision, Roles (Covey), Categories of Improvement (RPM), Now Goals (Workday Now) are all variations of another theme, where the key is to limit yourself to the most important. Where you discriminate to distilliate to focus on the right things. To paraphrase Covey: where you choose the wall(s) on which to lean your ladder.

            I absolutely agree that no matter where the concept comes from it is key to realise you can't Get it ALL done ... at least not right now. The way I use GTD to help me with that is I use my horizons of focus list to prioritise. I look at my 50k and figure out my level of satisfaction with each item. And then I do that for the next level on down. And generally I pick 1-4 things I want to move up that satisfaction scale. There is no formula here. It could be just 1 thing because I know it's really difficult and it's going to take a lot of focus and besides it will likely positively impact everything else (e.g. working out regularly), or it could be 3 things because one I can concentrate on in the mornings, another in the evenings, and a third while at work. Then I make sure those are connecting to the runway with projects and/or next actions or routines.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by enyonam View Post
              I absolutely agree that no matter where the concept comes from it is key to realise you can't Get it ALL done ... at least not right now. The way I use GTD to help me with that is I use my horizons of focus list to prioritise. I look at my 50k and figure out my level of satisfaction with each item. And then I do that for the next level on down. And generally I pick 1-4 things I want to move up that satisfaction scale. There is no formula here. It could be just 1 thing because I know it's really difficult and it's going to take a lot of focus and besides it will likely positively impact everything else (e.g. working out regularly), or it could be 3 things because one I can concentrate on in the mornings, another in the evenings, and a third while at work. Then I make sure those are connecting to the runway with projects and/or next actions or routines.
              Good point. It is sort of implicit in GTD that you will know your own 'bandwidth' limits. What do I have time and attention to take on at the moment? That's a difficult question. It's so easy to over commit.

              EO

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