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Developing areas of focus lists

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  • Developing areas of focus lists

    I'm finding a more systematic use of Areas of Focus has helped me recently.

    In a weekly review I am writing down the areas of my life that need my attention or that are bugging me in any way and for whatever reason. I will then open a note for each one in Outlook. Then I write ideas on what I can do to get on top of the issue. From these projects and actions are generated. If I don't have time to go over all the areas of focus then going through them will become actions in themselves.

    I've also recently started doing this in my daily commute.

    Of course I have been doing this sort of things for months/years, as it is staple to GTD - many of you will just call this mindmapping/brainstorming about issues that are foremost in the mind. But a more systematic and conscious process using the term "Areas of Focus" seems to have helped me.

    I find that I need different lists of Areas of Focus for different altitudes. For instance the Areas of Focus mentioned above may be only runway, while I find a more long term list of Areas of Focus is useful for looking through in the weekly review and for a periodic assessment of more long term goals etc.

    It seems I find I benefit for Areas of Focus at different levels that correspond to the more processed levels of actions, projects, goals etc. Does this make any sense to anyone? Has anyone developed a similar sort of approach?

  • #2
    Originally posted by tominperu View Post
    It seems I find I benefit for Areas of Focus at different levels that correspond to the more processed levels of actions, projects, goals etc. Does this make any sense to anyone? Has anyone developed a similar sort of approach?
    Yes, that makes a lot of sense. I think of the 20,000 feet level as "Areas of Responsibility." But I like the phrase "Areas of Focus" -- it makes me feel like I have more agency in deciding what my responsibilities are.

    I love how one can do the same things in GTD with very different technology. I use index cards to map out the higher levels of GTD. So, here in a nutshell, is my review process:

    1) My projects are all on index cards. One project per index card. I keep these organized by context, depending on the current action. (I use symbols to make it easy to sort the cards.) I like this approach because on days when I need additional focus, I can pull out the cards for the 3-4 projects that have to get done that day and focus on them, all the while knowing that I can go back to the big stack of cards and work by context at any time. (I also have a someday/maybe stack, which makes it easy to promote and demote projects.)

    2) I have a separate stack of cards that outline goals and "areas of responsbility/focus." So during my review, I arrange these on a table and put my project cards beneath them. For instance, I have a set of upper-level "Finances" cards that list my goals and responsibilities pertaining to Finances. During my weekly review, I put all my projects related to finances under the "Finances" card and see if my current projects are moving me towards my goals.


    • #3
      This is a goal of mine. A month ago I outlined my Horizons of Focus. What I noticed at that time was that I was already well on my way to accomplishing many projects toward many of the goals. But, defining the HOFs gave everything new meaning. Aside from altering the HOF as they change or as I define them better, I now want to "draw paths" to my projects and to any new items in my someday/maybe.

      I too would like to see how it worked for others.


      • #4
        20,000-ft. vs. 30,000 ft.

        In revisiting the descriptions of the 20,000-ft. and 30,000-ft. horizons, I'm feeling like they're flipped around.

        My Areas of Focus/Responsibility (20K) remain fairly stable from year to year, both personally and professionally, whereas I revise my Mid-term Objectives and Goals (30k) over the course of 1-2 years.

        For me, then, shouldn't they be flipped? Doesn't the level reflect how often we review them and revise them?

        Areas of Responsibility (personal): Relationships, Home, Spirit, Finances, etc.
        Areas of Resp. (professional): Ecological management, Science & Planning, Preserve Management, Fund Raising, Alliance Building

        Objectives (professional): Write at least one grant proposal; Complete dam removal on Salmon Brook; Contact at least 5 forest landowners; Define & create steering committee

        Objectives (personal): Select new day care; Convert office to bedroom, etc.


        • #5
          Another thought

          rivergal: that's a really good point. My 20k list is also very static and rarely changes. My counter would be that while it's true I don't revise it much, I do need to review it more frequently. As I review that list and consider each of my roles, I am frequently reminded of projects and tasks hidden inside those roles. So, for me anyway, I find that my 20k list is a checklist that I need to consult more frequenly than my 30k goals even though the list itself seldom changes.