Difference between Areas of Responsibility and Areas of Focus

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by philski, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. philski

    philski Registered

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    I'm not sure I understand clearly the difference between "Areas of Responsibility" and "Areas of Focus"

    - Areas of Responsibility is the 20,000 foot "horizon" and encompass things I'm responsible for as (for me) an employee/husband/dad. I complete projects (10,000 feet) that fit into these areas of responsibility, and these projects have Next Actions (Runway) to take.

    I get that. What I don't understand is what an Areas of Focus is in GTD.

    Are Areas of Focus just another way of saying Areas of Responsibility (IE: they are interchangeable?) Or is it something different (like things that interest me, for example like powerlifting, camping and sailing)?

    Thanks for the clarification,

    Philip
     
  2. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    I think everything you mentioned could be a useful of Area of Focus (or AOF). AOFs are simply checklists to act as triggers for projects and next actions. They can be professional (like areas of responsibility within your job) or personal, like powerlifting or just overall health. If it helps, think of "Areas of Responsibility" as a subset of "Areas of Focus."
     
  3. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I consider them to be interchangeable. They are both at that same level so IMO just different ways of saying the same thing.
     
  4. Folke

    Folke Registered

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    I think both Oogiem and bcmyers2112 are right. I remember clearly that DA used both terms interchangeable in his fist book, which would indicate that they are the same. On the other hand, why would he invent two different terms for this. My personal belief, quite in line with what bcmyers believes, is that he initially saw it as a responsibility, as in an agreed or voluntary duty or well-defined "role", which is how I use it, but that he also realized that this might strike some as too academical, and wanted to open up for virtually any kind of grouping, such as "travel" or "fun".
     
  5. ellobogrande

    ellobogrande Registered

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    There is a subtle semantic difference but because both categories of work are managed the same there's no real reason to separate them within your system. They are both at the 20,000 ft altitude. I submit that areas of focus are general things like health, finances, career, spiritual practices, home, family, etc. As bcmeyers2112 stated, an area of responsibility is often a specific subset of one of these focus areas. One's job responsibilities fall under this category. Leave the job and the areas of responsbility go away but the area of focus (career) remains. However, since both are managed in the exact same way, I don't have exclusive lists of each in my system. I keep my AOFs and AORs in a single mind map that I review monthly.
     
  6. Folke

    Folke Registered

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    @ellobogrande is it possible that you are mixing it up with what DA calls "groups of areas of responsibility"? If I remember correctly he uses Work or Career as a typical example of such a "group", and Personal as another. But DA never used the term Area of Focus interchangeably with the term Group of Areas of Responsibility, only with the term Area of Responsibility. Either way, I think it is useful to look at these things hierarchically, as you suggest - a few big thingies that contain some smaller thingies. Personally I like to use the "role"/responsibility aspect to all these thingies, even for purely personal matters. This is because I find it adds clarity and clearer edges to the definitions.
     
  7. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Let us not have our angels of focus dance too heavily on the heads of our pins of responsibility!
     
  8. Barb

    Barb Registered

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    Love it!
     
  9. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    I think where Philip was getting wrapped around the axle was the difference between a "responsibility" like a job duty and something like powerlifting. The point is one of the premises of GTD is that you should have one system for managing your personal and professional lives; after all whether you're gardening or writing a report, you're working. I think terms like AOR and AOF are meant to be used interchangeably as Oogie said. It's best not to overthink it.
     
  10. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Dangerous at the 20,000 ft altitude! ;-)
     
  11. manuelhe

    manuelhe Registered

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    I see them as commitments vs wishes. You have already made commitments to others that you are responsible for the well being of a some thing.

    An area of focus is anything that you are interested in at a broader level.

    You could say that areas of focus are more generic and that areas of responsibility are more specific.
     
  12. jireland

    jireland GTD Connect

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    Hi everyone,

    I really consider Areas of 'Focus and Responsibility' to be interchangeable. I love the way David describes it in Chapter 14 of Making It All Work:

    I hope this helps.

    Happy Friday!! :D
    Julie
     
  13. JamesT

    JamesT Registered

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    I too think of them as interchangeable. I've seen several videos where David talks and even in those videos he uses both phrases interchangeably in the same video. I was a bit confused at first as well, but I've seen used both ways so many times I'm now used to it.

    Have a productive week!
    James
     
  14. notmuch

    notmuch Registered

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    Thanks mcogilvie... now I have to clean off the coffee I spit on my monitor.
     
  15. Mark Jantzen

    Mark Jantzen Registered

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    I think of this level as things you can't mark off as "done". What are the areas you want to maintain at some standard or keep on cruise control. This coaching by David helped me to distinguish these parts of my life versus projects that I could complete and mark off as done. So for me "Finances" are an area of focus because it's never done but "Look into a rewards credit card" is a project I CAN complete.
     
  16. Shineapple

    Shineapple Registered

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    I know this is an old thread, but I have always understood that the 'responsibilities' part of the AR&F is things I am responsible for maintaining - i.e. children, pets, house, car, relationship, taxes etc. and the 'focus' part is for things I don't necessarily have any responsibilities around, but am simply interested in maintaining - i.e. art practice, vacations, sports, volunteering, developing my writing etc.

    If I were to just use the language of responsibility I might miss some of these less serious but just as important 'maintenance areas'.
     

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