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How many items practical/realistic for each level of focus?

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  • How many items practical/realistic for each level of focus?

    Hi Everyone,

    I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the number of Next Actions and Projects I have on my plate. I would appreciate getting input from all of you about how many Next Actions you have on your plate at any point in time. Same for your number of Projects. I sense that I need to fine tune the use of my someday/maybe list.

    Also, I would appreciate if folks would share how many list items you might have at 10,000 feet, 20,000 feet, 30,000 feet, 40,000 feet and 50,000 feet.

    Hope to hear from many of you that have made this workflow system work for you.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Mike R.

  • #2
    I think David's last monthly newsletter discussed this.


    • #3
      Thanks for the referral to the newletter. However,
      I'm also curious about folks who might have substantially more than 50 someday maybe's or specific numbers of projects for 20,000 feet 30,000 feet 40,000 feet, etc. or anyone who might otherwise be more heavily loaded than what DA calls the "average" person at any of the GTD levels.

      Mike R.


      • #4
        Here's my list. I'm a pastor and this reflects my work most of the time:

        @.Next Action (17)
        @Agenda (14)
        @Calls (15)
        @Computer Web (1)
        @Delegation (1)
        @Email (7)
        @Financial (5)
        @Home (1)
        @Administrative Board (6)
        @Staff (6)
        @People Ministry (3)
        @Projects (57)
        Area of Focus (45)
        Checklist (19)
        Denomination (1)
        District (2)
        Errands (1)
        Family (5)
        Inspiration (3)
        Level Five Leader (1)
        Mentoring (2)
        Prayer (3)
        Reading (2)
        Sermon (14)
        Someday/Maybe (56)
        Sunday (11)
        Waiting for (27)
        Weekly Review (2)


        • #5
          I found that trying to establish higher altitude lists as a specific objective led me into Covey-esque top-down planning, which basically amounts to make-work - the idea that since I have some goal, I must have a plan and actions for it. GtD advises that crystallizing goals by working bottom-up is a more effective method, and I agree that "Ready, Aim, Fire, Adjust Aim, Fire Again..." is a better way of making progress and learning from doing where you should be headed than "Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim...."

          As a result, my intermediate "altitudes" are pretty sparsely populated. I know my areas of focus but I find it hard to distinguish between them (e.g., Career and Financial Security overlap, Career and Personal Development overlap, Personal Environment and Family overlap, etc.). Using a more direct "Givens" approach, I have a list of Dreams with target dates. Current year targets become Goals that are duplicated into Someday/Maybe, and picked up as Actionable some time during the year. Thereafter, my top-down planning is confined to moving things (including Goals) from Someday/Maybe into Projects and NA's using the criterion that something is current if I intend to Do the NA this month. From this month's focus areas, I select this week's focus-areas as a guide, but not a driver, for current selection from the NA list. In other words, I know pretty much where I am going, but I may not know exactly how I am going to get there, or what exactly "there" is, until I have started moving towards the destination.

          This may be more superficial than you were looking for, but I find it flexible to work with.



          • #6
            Thank you for your inputs. This is quite helpful. The pastor's (pdajunkie) list stimulated more triggers for categories and the last entry by andmor was quite helpful.

            Does anyone know whether DA has specific numeric ranges that he has observed to occur for each of the different levels of focus? (10,000 feet; 20,000 feet; 30,000 feet; 40,000 feet; 50,000 feet, etc)?


            • #7
              numbers I found in David's book

              Here are some numbers that I found in David's book (paperback pg 51-53)

              Runway -- approx 300-500 hours worth of work
              10,000 -- 30-100 projects relatively short term
              20,000 -- 10-15 categories
              30,000-50,000 didn't really provide hard numbers, although there are explanations.

              Hope this helps.


              • #8
                These are my numbers:

                At Work:
                NAs (Current): 47
                Projects (Current): 12
                Projects (Future): 65

                At Home and elsewhere:
                NAs (Current): 22
                Projects (Current): 09
                Projects (Future): 34

                (Current = two weeks)
                (Future = when one of the current projects is finished a new project gets started)



                • #9
                  Here are mine:
                  Active projects: 30
                  Next Actions: 112
                  Waiting Fors: 25
                  Someday/Maybe: 27
                  Work Areas of Focus: 5
                  Person Areas of Focus: 7
                  1-2 year goals (30,000 ft): 2
                  3-5 year goals (40,000 ft): 3
                  Various checklists/memos (e.g. books to read, stuff to get, vacations to take): 31

                  My long term stuff and areas of focus are deliberately pretty thin, for reasons already mentioned by others here.


                  • #10
                    Limiting number of open projects

                    Ranier, you wrote that:
                    Future = when one of the current projects is finished a new project gets started
                    (Sorry, I don't know how to put it in a cool box like other post'ers do?!)

                    Is this a strict rule that you follow? i.e., do you limit the number of projects and only add a new one when you've completed one?

                    The reason I ask is that I had been contemplating whether to limit the number of projects and only add a new one when I complete one. I was considering this because I am awful at finishing tasks. I'm great at starting and getting the meat of the work done, but I often stop before completing final clean up (be it a report, update on the computer, filing, or even just putting away tools/supplies that I used). I had thought maybe that would be a way to force me to finish my projects before moving on to the next one.

                    Has anyone else tried anything similar?


                    • #11
                      volunteer4ever wrote:

                      Is this a strict rule that you follow? i.e., do you limit the number of projects and only add a new one when you've completed one?
                      Yes, Volunteer4ever , it is a rule I try to follow as strictly as I can.

                      Well, I have more ideas and plans than can be handled in only one life. Is this a blessing or a course? I don't know. Any way, and I have to set some boundaries to stay sane.


                      Like you I am good at starting a project and doing the work (occupational safety engineer) , but cleaning up, filing etc isn’t my cup of tea. About 10 years ago my office at work was a mess of piles were I couldn’t find anything. Well, had to get organized, got organized but same problem again after two years. Got organized again, set limits to prevent over-commitment and now my office is okay.

                      In order to get a relaxing hobby I started with Bonsai about 15 years ago. But what did I do? After 3 years our house, balconies and garden were crowded with figs, maples, pines, junipers etc. Fortunately a friend was willing to adopt most of them and now my trees are starting to build a small forest on his unused farmland. I still have more trees than I can handle but I will sell or donate a lot of them in spring.

                      Right now the political party that I am a member of is launching an election campaign. I am the secretary of our local section and many commitments are ahead. But this time I will not over-commit again and will only do what is manageable.

                      Could give you more examples, but I think you get the picture. You see, I just have to set some boundaries, limits and rules to prevent over-commitment. And on the long run it is better to do less and keep a standard of quality within limits of time and deadlines.