Areas of focus process

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Futureself, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. Futureself

    Futureself Registered

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    Does anyone have a systematic process for reviewing areas of focus? Or some good questions to ask yourself at aoff review? What does “done” look like after an AofF review?
    Thanks!
     
  2. Geeko

    Geeko GTD since 2017

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    I would try these questions:
    1. What do you maintain or oversee?
    2. What different hats do you wear in private and professionally?
    I hope this helps.

    Cheers,
    Tristan
     
  3. Futureself

    Futureself Registered

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    I have a pretty well populated list I just am not sure how to review it. Do I just use it as a triggers list?
     
  4. clango

    clango Registered

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    I manage them as my driving force, so my projects comes mainly from this origin.
    So I have a print copy on my desk, I've a digital list on my Nirvana.
    I need to focus on them frequently because they are the most important focus for this year
     
  5. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    • Is this AoF in the state I want it to be? If not, what projects do I have to create to drive things there? (What @clango said.)
    • Do I even know what that would look like? What's my vision for this AoF? How should it be?

    • What is the best way of not having to deal with that any longer? How can I minimize my commitments?
    • Oh, I really want to keep that one? Why? This "why" should point (or create) something at the even higher levels).
     
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  6. Geeko

    Geeko GTD since 2017

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    Maybe you could try to link all of your projects to the corresponding area of focus. If you have any project that does not correspond to one of your areas of focus you should ask yourself why you have this project. This might lead to either updating your projects or your areas of focus.
    Apart from that it is recommended to review your areas of focus about every 3 months.

    I hope this helps.

    Cheers,
    Tristan
     
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  7. vaughan76

    vaughan76 Registered

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    Yes, a trigger list is exactly what it is. I recommend not overthinking it - once a week or so, probably as part of your weekly review, just look at it and see what comes up. Some people recommend linking it to all your projects and tasks, but I think that results in spending more time tweaking your system than in actually doing things. So just try using it as a trigger list and keep it simple.
     
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  8. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I review AOFs quarterly when I do my big swap out of projects into and out ofsomeday/maybe. I do quarterly reviews on the solstices and equinoxes as that really fits with farming projects. For the AOFs I have a separate list of all of them and I read them at the start of my quarterly review. Then, as I'm doing project reviews, I get a sense of whether I am ignoreing one AOF or doing too much in it and want to change.

    I've tried to assign projects to specific AOFs but far too may of them overlap AOFs so I gave that up quite a while ago.
     
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  9. vaughan76

    vaughan76 Registered

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    Only once a quarter? Maybe you have a lot...? I look my areas of focus over every week as part of the weekly review to help generate tasks and ideas. I might review the actual AOF list every so often to make sure I’ve got all the ones I need, but they are an integral part of my review. I’m curious about this for you - are you more project driven?
     
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  10. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Yes once a quarter is sufficient for me. Farming works on quarters and that's plenty of time to review all my AOFs.

    Yes I am very project driven.
     
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  11. Geeko

    Geeko GTD since 2017

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    Once a quarter is just a suggestion that is very common. You should review your areas of focus as often as you need to feel good about it. For many people that corresponds with a period of 3 months.
    I don’t think it is a good idea to try to apply the book word by word. As long as we stick to the principles of GTD it is absolutely fine to adapt our systems to our needs. So there is no right way or a wrong way, just our personal way :)

    Cheers,
    Tristan
     
  12. vaughan76

    vaughan76 Registered

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    Well, yes, my point was just that if someone is looking at AOF once every three months then they are using that list in a very different way than I am, and I’d love to better understand how that works. The AOF list makes a regular appearance in my life and is key to making sure I’m being creative with my projects and choices.
     
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  13. clango

    clango Registered

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    . I fully agree! :)
     
  14. Geeko

    Geeko GTD since 2017

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    Maybe your life changes faster than other people’s. Some very typical items for an area of focus list are your job description or stuff like family, health, my kung fu practice, fun, … For me these things do not change on a weekly basis so reviewing these items every 1 – 3 months is sufficient for me. Of course I might have projects tied to those items but these projects live in my projects list and get reviewed during my weekly review.
    I hope this made my point of view a little more clear :)

    Have a good evening.
    Cheers,
    Tristan
     
  15. vaughan76

    vaughan76 Registered

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    I think so...? Just to clarify: are you talking about reviewing your AOF list to see if that list is complete? Or to use it to generate new tasks and projects?

    The latter is what I’m talking about - every week I pull that list out and use it to think creatively about projects and actions I could take within various AOF’s. for example, looking at my AOF list helps me think creatively about things to do with my kids, things to talk to my boss about, actions I might take for my health, my clients, different functions of my job, my creative life, areas of learning, etc etc. All of those things are in my AOF list, and if I didn’t check that list, I think I’d miss all kinds of opportunities to be creative.

    So I’m NOT talking about reviewing that list to see if the list itself is complete. I agree, the actual items on the list don’t change often. Of course , once a quarter, I probably look at the AOF list to see if anything needs to be added or removed from the list itself as my various roles or priorities change.

    Maybe I’m making too big of a deal out of this, but the AOF list is the one I use most often to be creative, so it’s just really different to think about only using it once s quarter to generate creative projects.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
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  16. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I generate so many new ideas and projects that I never have to look at the AOF list to see what I might be missing because during daily processing I am adding so many new potential project ideas to my Someday/Maybe lists. Those lists are roughly organized by AOF. As part of processing a new idea I will give the existing list a quick read and I can easily tell then if something jumps out. If it does I'll drag it back into my main list manager and then catch and activate and get it going at my next weekly review.

    I keep Someday/Maybe in DEVONThink and my mail list managetr is Omnifocus. I tried having it all in one and that was a failure so I find that splitting it out this way is better. I have techniques to quickly move stuff in and out of each tool so it's not a big deal and the slight bit of extra work forces me to really look at the projects and next actions. Often they get re-worded and better defined during the transition.

    So my quarterly review is just to rebalance my current projects, verify that each AOF is getting the attention I feel it deserves for the upcoming quarter and see if I am missing any new AOFs or can get rid of one.
     
  17. vaughan76

    vaughan76 Registered

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    Thanks for getting into the details. This is helpful.
     
  18. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    I’m a big fan now of not setting up structures and plans that won’t help me and I won’t use. Guess how I learned this? Hint: I thought I knew more about how I could get things done than David Allen.
     
  19. Lagerbaer

    Lagerbaer Registered

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    I recently read J.D. Meier's book "Getting Results the Agile Way". (The book is so-so. The guy is certainly smart and gets results, because he's a lead software designer at Microsoft, but his book could definitely have used a good editor...)

    Anyway, he talks a lot about a concept he terms "Hot Spots", and on second thought they are pretty similar to GTD's Areas of Focus. He divides them into three main categories: Work, Personal, and "Life Frame", which gets further sub-divided into the 7 fields of Mind (all things learning), Body (Fitness and Health), Emotions, Career, Finances, Relationships and Fun.

    As part of your weekly review, you should then ask yourself questions like:
    • What do I need to spend more time on?
    • What did I spend too much time on?
    • What needs to be scheduled or done next week?
    • What do I need to be aware of next week?
    • What are some unresolved issues in an area?
    • What opportunities are there in each of my hot spots?
    • What obstacles might be getting in the way of my goals?
    • Am I going in the right direction with my commitments?
    • Should I add / remove or expand / shrink certain commitments?
    • What did I knock out of the park last week?
    Furthermore, he suggests that for each of those Hot Spots, you identify an explicit outcome you want. For example, your "Body" hot spot could have the explicit outcome of "Get below 15% body fat".

    You can also use this list to identify your three most pressing opportunities or pain points.
     
  20. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    It sounds like a lot of books about productivity, in which the author tells you what works for him or her, or sometimes even what the author thinks should work. These are not bad questions, but I don’t think they would be useful for me to answer every week. GTD is unique in that it focuses on the minimum required to get to a clear head, and leaves such elaborations up to the individual.
     

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