Generic areas of responsibility

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Greyone, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. Greyone

    Greyone Registered

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    Let me give some background to my chosen AOFs. Outside GTD i periodically complete a life chart. This asks you to consider 5 areas of your life. These are career, money, health, relationships and self. This comes from a CBT course i was completed from a company called Skillsoft. These seem quite a good division for different parts/aspects/areas (call it what you will) of my life. using them as my AOF's mean that i can use the results from my life chart as part of my self improvement and map any projects to the AOF's and review any other projects in light of my life chart results.

    A simple example of this would be any unhappiness i may express with my career. When i consider what to do i can also review and projects that have my "Career" Focus and decide if i should continue,stop of modify them. I can also create new projects bearing in mind my existing projects and build in more structure and purpose to all of my projects focused on career.

    My own 'junior' view of projects is that they should be a member of an AOF because i believe that everything we do must belong to some part of our life ( if not of course then it must be to do with someone else's life and at least my relationship with them). But i would be delighted to hear from anyone that did have a project not related to and AOF. I might be temped to say that they were missing an AOF. Of course some may be tempted to say that it is possible that some projects could be under more than one AOF. For me the solution to this would be for me to consider the main purpose of the project. I could say for example that buying a new suite was a project with a Money focus but as the suite would be for an interview maybe as a project it would have a career focus.

    So going back to my early posting making chutney would be a hobby and have a Self focus because although i would be making it for my family, my main focus would be doing it as a hobby and have a Self Focus. Going to film festivals would also be a hobby and have a Self Focus. Comparatively speaking , spending the money on the cinema and the holiday may have a money focus but it would still belong to Self.

    Having seen several different lists of AOFs, I can still draw the conclusion that Some AOFs are remarkably similar. For example, a vicar may have church as his AOF because that would be where he/she works and that would be correct. If i changed jobs from It to being a vicar i could have CHURCH as my AOF or i could still call in WORK or CAREER. In a productive talk podcast, i think David Allen made the point that what was more important was that CHURCH or WORK or CAREER contained the eight things and you could even call it what you wanted so long as it contained what it was supposed to contain. So long as my CHURCH or WORK or CAREER AOf contain what it was supposed to contain then that was ok. Maybe not perfect but ok.

    Here is a small challenge to any one interested. Can any one tell me a AOF that is not a part of one of these 5 ? Career, money, health, relationships and self !!
     
  2. Folke

    Folke Registered

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    Yes, this thread has shown that different people have either of those two takes - either to "force" everything into one single AoR that can be said to be the "main purpose" of this activity (which is what you and I prefer to do) or to just consider every activity under any and all different "aspects" that you could possibly view this activity from (which seems to be the more common approach, at least in this thread).

    I think you can squeeze everything into that 5-way split - if you want to. But perhaps more significantly I think you could squeeze everything into virtually any such n-way split. I can see nothing that makes your particular split unique in that sense.

    I think the real question - for each one of us - is how we make a split that makes sense to us, that is easy for us to interpret and use, and which in some way clearly represent the areas of choices and activities that we must make in our lives. And we probably want the to be reasonably even in size (not have 90% in one area and the rest in four others).

    In my own case I have your "self" and "health" areas (and some other stuff) rounded up in one single area (called "Man"). I do have a "career" sphere of areas with a handful different business areas in it. I do not have a "money" area - the revenue part of money is covered under my business areas and costs are implicitly covered under most areas (money comes into play almost everywhere; and I feel no need to analyze my whole life from a "money" perspective). Maintaining the family's external "relationships" I do have an area for, and another area for maintaining the family's material assets.
     
  3. Greyone

    Greyone Registered

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    Thank you for all the feedback. I appreciate now that although i can shoe horn all of my projects into one of my categories, others may have an equally valid set of AOFs. My intent in posting was to see if my AOFs gave me complete coverage for all Horizon's. When i have a project i always allocate it to an AOF. and if possible , to at least one goal and vision and at least understand how it contributes to my purpose in life. Not always possible or necessary, but reassuring when it is.

    I like to think that my life can be divided up into areas. And career, health and finance seem to be fine individually. But to me Self, family and relationships do not have the same certainty to me. I could quite happily create a single AOF (maybe called People or Person) that could include all of these. But as Self is by far the most important part, then family and for relationship i use everyone but myself and family. For GTD i take comfort that they can be fluid and i think the key word here is focus.

    Thanks one more time for everyone who joined in the discussion.

    Greyone signing off.
     
  4. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    What are you doing to leave the world a better place when you are gone? That's even larger than community. Where do you put things like your responsibilities to the planet (political work to prevent inappropriate gas drilling and fracking in my case) or stuff to support community organizations like work in the Historical society museum? They aren't really relationships or self but are much wider. To me relationships are personal relationships between me and another person. The larger sphere actions are not part of that and are not included in your schema. None of those areas seem to me to fit in your small set of AOFs.

    And again, in many cases I see individual projects and goals crossing over many different AOFs. Take something as mundane as adding a new solar PV system to the farm. It's part of building the farm which isn't really covered in your AOFs and yet it spans things like doing better for the planet, making the farm more environmentally sustainable, takes money and time, builds relationships with local builders and friends and so on.
     
  5. Greyone

    Greyone Registered

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    Thanks very much indeed for you posting Oogiem, you've given me a most timely reminder of two important aspects of AOFs. That's just the reason why i posted. At the moment , i live at the family home so all matters relating to house and home go under my family AOF because it is an aspect of our family.. When i'm living on my own , i'll probably put house and home under self as it will become an aspect of myself. I could of course put and keep house & home as a separate AOF and despite financial and environment aspects of solar panels i owuld still have the project under house and home because that is where they would be fixed to and contribute to the running of the house.

    I am also very appreciative of when you say "Where do you put things like your responsibilities to the planet...". I have never had such an important project. But to share my thoughts without trying to annoy you I might be tempted to place them under self because they maybe aspects of myself. But no, fear not iwont i merely mention that in passing. I am happy to admit that these would not fit into any of my current AOF's and believe me please when i say that this is one good reason to put my AOFs under public scrutiny. So when i get involved in wider matters such as politics, fracking or WWF etc , i will probably start of with a new AOF. So i will mull over what my AOF should be for such things.

    At the moment my Family AOF consists of projects for my Mother, sister, house ( the building and its fixetures and fittings) and home (it's contents). I have no problem with this because as a family we all live in the house and play our part in looking after it, so to me this appears appropriate for our circumstances.. But you are so right about the bigger issues of the world outside my family.

    Thanks once again.
     
  6. Greyone

    Greyone Registered

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    I have now recognised the limits of associating projects with specific AOF's. For example, my new job project will probably have a project to follow on the subject of advancing in my new job or something similar. These two come under my short term career goal and are associated with my career AOF. But i acknowledge that they have significant financial element ( which maybe i should develop). But for the moment i place it with my career AOF. But my moving house project is a funny one because i have it under Self and family , but i now acknowledge that it has an equal place in Finance , for obvious reasons and until a way comes to light that will allow me to make use of this fact , i will indeed say why bother.
     
  7. Folke

    Folke Registered

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    Well, most of our tasks have many facets and aspects, so if you want your "areas" to serve as a correct and complete characterization of each task you will certainly end up with having each item associated with many areas. But I do not have that problem or ambition.

    For me, the main need (desire) is to be able to view, locate and review my tasks in a sensible way. The key question for me is WHEN - in connection with what other tasks - I want to see this particular thing. I generally have no problem at all deciding which (single) bucket to throw things in. And then I review all those related things (projects etc; and create new ones) TOGETHER; that's the whole point, IMO, to enable me to do do my reviews in a very focused way.

    Further, I believe a good principle to use when defining your areas is to use the original expression Area of Responsibility (which suggests accountability) rather than Area of Focus (which sounds more watered down), and to pretend that each AoR is a living person that has a job responsibility that must be understandable and functional - just as if you would give the job to another person. It does not have to be a totally consistent job role in an academic sense, but it must be executable and clear. For example, virtually everything that is done in a company has a financial aspect, and the company also has a CFO (and a CEO). But as you know, you still can assign tasks to Marketing, R&D, Production, Sales etc without necessarily putting down the CFO as co-responsible for everything that involves money.
     
  8. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    "Overlapping" AoRs are the only solution. Use labels/tags instead of categories/folders. In this way you can put a Project "in" more than one AoR. It does not hurt and gives a better perspective during the AoR review.
     
  9. Folke

    Folke Registered

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    Although I have the opposite opinion, and do not want to argue for argument's sake, I think it might be useful for readers to compare the circumstances under which each approach is better.

    Using overlapping "areas" is the best approach if you want to do a review of the following "check-listed" type:
    - do I earn enough money (AoF = income)
    - do I look after my body well enough? (AoF = health)
    - do I do enough for the planet? (AoF=earth citizen)
    - am I nice enough to my fellow humans?
    etc
    Each "area" is then a checklist item, against which you assess the totality of what you are doing. I am not against that kind if review. It is just that I would prefer to consider such aspects to be not level 2 areas but rather level 4 or 5 visions and purposes. (And I can admit that I never found it worthwhile to code my actions and projects accordingly.)

    Is that the scenario you saw in your mind's eye, Testeq?

    Using non-overlapping AoRs, on the other hand, is the better approach if you want a simple way to group your projects and actions such that you can review them easily one chunk at a time (in a meaningful way), and also to find things easily during the course of the week. (This can be very conveniently implemented in many computer apps, e.g. as a hierarchical layer above projects or using tags and/or using project name prefixes.)

    In other words I think there is a good use case for both approaches.
     
  10. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    For several years I strictly associated projects with a single AOF, grouping them under their respective places. I had a hard time finding where I put a project that related to more than one AOF when I needed to add some stuff to it because I thought of things that ended up in my inbox.

    I've recently changed that and no longer bother. Now I have current active projects in 6 large buckets:
    1. Current Active one-off projects (Example: Rebuild Sheep Sweep)
    2. Recurring projects that happen monthly or more than once a year (Example: Change Wool Moth Traps)
    3. Recurring projects that happen yearly and need to start in the first quarter Jan-Mar (Example: Plan and Implement Backup Sheep Breeding)
    4. Recurring projects that happen yearly and need to start in the second quarter Apr-Jun (Example: Raise Butcher Chickens)
    5. Recurring projects that happen yearly and need to start in the third quarter Jul-Sep (Example: Get second cutting hay in)
    6. Recurring projects that happen yearly and need to start in the first quarter Oct-Dec (Example: Register Sheep)
    I have one big section of projects on hold or in Someday/Maybe. I also have one electronic folder with lists of someday/maybe projects loosely grouped by what they are, like knitting or weaving projects.

    My recurring projects are like checklists. I effectively "tear off" a copy to work on. Because the steps do not change I have saved the work of all the planning for the project and just re-use it each time.

    I've found that I am completing many more projects under the new system. Not exactly sure why it's making a difference but it's a lot easier to locate and find project materials and I'm attracted to my lists so I tend to get more done from them which moves all the projects, even the less fun ones, along faster.
     
  11. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Project: Warsaw Marathon 2016 finished for charity purposes with family support.
    Is it "fitness" AoR?
    Is it "family" AoR?
    Is it "charity" AoR?

    If you can assign this project to all AoRs just do it. It will appear in all AoRs during a review because it is a multipurpose project.
     
  12. Folke

    Folke Registered

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    Good example. I would say, as I did before, that the most suitable format depends on what you want to accomplish by implementing AoR definitions. If the primarary purpose is to be able to find this project in a number of different "queries" (health, family, charity etc), then obviously you need the project to be tagged wiith all those aspects. This might be useful in, say, a quarterly or annual review. For me, I would then find it most natural to assess "fitness", "generosity" etc as as visions or life values (level 4 or 5). To me, these are lifelong goals, valid every day from today onwards (until I am on the slab).

    Long-term goals such as "fitness" can play into every type of action. For example, if you are having a business meeting somewhere, you might want to consider walking rather than driving. And you may want to exercise "generosity" or "fairness" in all your dealings with other people. But in my opinion you do not necessarily need to encode each and every action (or project) with all the various life goals that the action (or project) supports. But I have played with the thought of doing so.

    If, on the other hand, your primary purpose is to facilitate your weekly (or daily) reviewing, then I personally find it essential that each project only appear in one such "context" (in the general sense of that word), such that you can deal with all related matters conveniently. The more mundane purpose of an AoR categorization is to simply enable you to do the daily and weekly reviewing efficiently.

    My own example (my three private AoRs):

    MTR: manage material assets: this includes everything from cleaning the floor to paying bills and shuffling assets.
    AMB: help manage the family members' relationships (with colleagues, friends, bosses, school principals)
    MAN: my own (private/selfish) needs (e.g. my own fun, fitness, wellbeing, development, ideals ..)

    If I were to run the same marathon as you, I would put it straight under MAN - without a shadow of a doubt.

    In addition I have a few non-profit AoRs, where I have agreed to fulfill roles in different organizations, and a half-dozen business AoRs for different businesses that I am engaged in.

    Each and every project has the potential to impact my lifelong goals such as health and fairness, but I do not encode that in my system. I just put the action/project in in the AoR where I think it primarily belongs. The life goal assessment - against multiple goals - is something I do only infrequently, where I would essentially go through the totality of all my tasks in all AoRs and check whether this totality supports a sufficient level of "fitness", "fairness" etc (or whatever life goals I have on my checklist).
     
  13. Greyone

    Greyone Registered

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    I must admit that as soon as I started to read your post it made me smile. Recently I've been listening to the company podcasts, especially the one with the weekly review in which the speaker talks about checklists. That was a eureka moment for me because some of the projects I was working on ere recurring such as managing my weekly finances and manage my monthly finances. So now I have checklists for them. So I think yours are brilliant. I too like my checklists because my recurring projects don't need re-specifying.

    I'm more than happy to say this now and I wont apologies if I'm repeating myself, but one of my projects, Buy House, I had originally listed under self because it is juts for me. But it screams out finance. especially when I'll be spending upwards of several hundred thousand pounds. But I think money/finance is a funny AOF. So I've side-lined my obsession with pigeon-holing my projects and just getting on with them. I still have a column on my spread sheet but now keep it as optional.IU must admit that I'm fascinated to see if any other projects fall like this.... but I'm no longer obsessed.

    Thanks so much for continuing to inspire and provoke me into questioning what I do.
     
  14. Brandon Glenn

    Brandon Glenn Registered

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    I really like this approach! May you share other "pretend contracted" categories for your other AoR (if you still use this method)? Typical areas like personal, work, health, leisure, spirituality, etc... I'm fascinated by this insight. Thank you so much!
     

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