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Having trouble to link this project to an AoF

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  • Having trouble to link this project to an AoF

    Here is my area of focus list:

    Personnal :
    • health
    • beauty
    • kids
    • wife
    • friends
    • finance
    • personal development
    • professional development (career)
    • recreation
    • organization (GTD)
    • house
    • car
    Work :
    • X
    • Y
    • Z

    My understanding of the areas of focus is that these are areas where I set up projects to be done to achieve the goals I have previously defined to succeed in my life (30k, 40k and 50k goals).

    So each project should be linked to an area of focus. But I have a project that I can't really link to any of these areas which mean that I probably didn't capture all my areas of focus...

    This project is "Obtaining the XXX (country) nationality". Couple of years ago I had to move in an other country for work and now I would like to stay for longer in that new country but I need government paper to be able to stay.

    The outcome for this project is "I got the xxx (country) passport".
    A 30k goal could be "Live few more years in xxx (country)".

    I can't completely link this project to "Career". It's more for personal preference that I want to stay in that country. This project could fit partly in many of my areas of focus (wife, career, finance, recreation).

  • #2
    No grouping (classification) is ever perfect

    No matter how to you break a given totality into buckets there will generally be things that fit in more than one bucket or fit none at all. The same goes for context, for example, or for classifying costs and revenues etc etc etc etc. It is like this in all parts of our lives. The general rule is - since you usually do not want to keep copies (duplicates) - that you choose the least inappropriate alternative. Or you change/redefine your setup - and then face similar problems with other items instead.

    In your case, I think I would put it down as "personal development" (and, if necessary, redefine that class a bit).

    As for the areas as such, I know different people have very different preferences, but for me personally it becomes much clearer if I define them as roles (quasi "job titles"). Then I am able to much more easily, more intuitively, answer the question who would be responsible (the initiator/driver) for a particular effort. (And you can also define who the "customer" is for each such role, if that makes it even clearer, but don't get lost there, if you run into trouble).

    And another thing: I have a last resort area called Man, where I put everything that does not fit anywhere else and which I will do anyway for my own personal benefit or satisfaction.


    • #3
      If personal preference is the primary driver, put your project in a personal area of focus. You don't say much about WHY you need or want this linked hierarchy. It's not a strict GTD requirement. Not all next actions have projects, and not all projects fit neatly into an area of focus. What you want is for your goals and areas of focus to suggest projects and actions, not the other way around. Some people just have a need to have some very structured hierarchy, where all projects are in an area of focus, and driven by some goal. Other people lock themselves into some software structure that similarly constrains them. IMHO, both are mistakes that miss out on the true freedom that gtd can open up.


      • #4
        Originally posted by loik View Post
        It's more for personal preference that I want to stay in that country.
        If you want to find an AOF, you could ask yourself: Why do you want to stay in that country? Explore the reasons. You might even end up adding several AOFs. "personal preference" could be an AOF (a bit like "recreation") but there are probably better ways of putting it.


        • #5
          Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
          It's not a strict GTD requirement. Not all next actions have projects, and not all projects fit neatly into an area of focus.
          Originally posted by bcmyers2112
          The higher-level horizons of focus (areas of focus, goals, and life's purpose) are there to act as triggers for projects you need to take on.
          GTD is a framework, not a cage.
          This is all very true. And if you choose to work on paper you will see that GTD really boils down to plain good old-fashioned common sense.

          It becomes a bit more difficult if, for one reason or other, you choose to use a computer app, as I have. Computers obviously have their strengths, but often also introduce rigor and limitations that you simply do not have with paper - and may induce an urge, perhaps, to make the best use of what little functionality there is, since it does not quite have what you wanted in the first place.

          I encode ALL my tasks with the project to which they belong, and for tasks that do not actually belong to a project I have a "phony project" for each area (using the app's project feature). This is not because I have to, or because it is the most "correct" way, but simply because this at least makes the lists a bit tidy and is one of the few ways available in the app to allow me to focus on different areas at different times. If you use a computer app you'll see that you have to invent all kinds of workarounds to make your life simple (and if you work on paper you'll probably invent other tricks and shortcuts that suit you).


          • #6
            Originally posted by bcmyers2112
            I've always used digital list managers. It all comes down to this: anything that facilitates doing with minimal stress is useful. Anything that hinders doing is not.
            You are right about practically everything you say, but:

            For me it has been the opposite. I have always used paper based lists, except for the last 15 years. I know exactly how simplicity with paper works. It is excellent. The intuitive system I used to use was near-identical to the system that David Allen describes (except for Waiting For, which I had never at that time thought of having as a separate list; I had those among my ordinary actions, i.e. next actions). Very intuitive. Worked beautifully. And I think most people with their feet on the ground did it roughly like that - except those who fell for the time management stuff and started to try to turn their lives into living Gantt charts

            Now (15 years ago) I have chosen to use a computer for a few simple reasons, and I am very stubborn. What I see, though, is that perhaps at least 99% of all development goes into providing all kinds of "cool gadgets" that are of minimal use to me. All I really wanted of computerization, primarily, was to be able too offload my mind of tasks only once (not have to move tasks from a project plan to a different paper, but to enter them once and have them conveniently out of the way until I need them) and be able to see ("review") the stuff from different angles (which I know is easy with computers; and which I actually manage to get to some reasonable extent).

            And then it dawned on me that situational task selection (multiple contexts etc) really should be a piece of cake using computers, and would simplify the list management tremendously. Situational decision making, as I see it, is the very essence of GTD, and it could be made so much simpler than having stuff organized crudely into flat, rigid classes.

            But, I also agree with something else you said before, that some people make things waayy too complicated.


            • #7
              Originally posted by bcmyers2112
              When you refer to flat, rigid classes, does that mean next actions sorted by contexts as defined by DA (the person, place or tool needed to do the job)
              Thanks for trying to understand. Yes exactly. That's the only sensible way to do it if you use paper, and it is quite good - much better than having it all on one single list. I always had a few separate lists like that (errands, office/desk, office/walkingabout etc, and also office/projectA, office/agendaX etc) when I used paper in those days.

              But if you have a computer there is really no reason to force you to make a one-dimensional structure like that. It would be much simpler to start with, and to maintain, if you could just keep adding the contextual aspects you think you may want to look at later. For example, if you want to try encoding an energy aspect or a timing aspect (e.g. afternoons only) or a new person, then just add one. And if you don't want to add one, then don't. Or if you did add one but found you had no use for it, just delete it - without having to revise your whole structure.

              From a software point of view, all it would take for the developer is to allow tasks to have more contexts than one (and many actually allow that, and call them tags) and then allow some simple and/or/not filtering (which most do not have at all, and when they do it is way too cumbersome to use ad hoc; you must define saved searches etc).

              And if you want to have a fixed default list grouping by context, then that would still be simple enough - just define which contexts should be used for that grouping; it would not need to be all of them.

              That's all. Very, very simple. Then users then could suit themselves, keep it as flat or as multi-contextual as they see fit.

              And as for using the gut, there is no contradiction. I often use my gut without even looking at my list at all But that does not mean that you should be forced by somebody else's lame software to adopt an unnecessarily rigid and imprecise structure - necessary when using paper, yes, but not necessary (or even wasteful) when using a computer.