How do you use areas of focus?

folke123

Registered
Hi guys!

I am implementing GTD "from the bottom up" as suggested by DA and feel that I have a quite good grip on capturing my open loops, having projects, using my waiting for list, using S/M lists, etc.

But I am not so sure about the "higher levels" especially the "areas of focus"

Currently, my areas of focus are:

  • Work (I work as a software developer and work basically on all the code stack, so I can't really (or at least don't know how to) break it down to more areas as DA suggests in the book)
  • Political engagement
  • Side hustle
  • Economy
  • Health
  • Friends (added last weekly review)


And I check them but basically do nothing with them on each weekly review (Don't really know what I should do with them)

I get that they should represent important areas of your life, and I feel that mine are, but I am not really sure what to do with the list to give me any value!

So an array of questions:

1) How/why do you use them? (How should you use them?)
2) Do you just use them to check sometimes that might trigger projects?
3) Do you connect your projects to your areas of focus? (I think I've read about people doing that to see how much they work with each area and to see that nothing gets neglected)
4) Do you use sub-areas?
5) How do they differ from the "higher-level goals" (Like for example I have a goal "Become financially independent" and an area called "Economy" since that is important for me, to me that feels quite similar, except that the goal is more concrete) I also have a goal like "get a post in the city council" which also feels more concrete than "Political Party name" as my area of focus is named

Thanks!
 

GTDengineer

Registered
These higher level lists are simply mental triggers to remind you that you may want to plan projects and actions to make progress towards your goals and visions in these areas.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
So an array of questions:

1) How/why do you use them? (How should you use them?)
Actually, my areas of focus influence not only projects and next actions, but also goals et cetera which are higher levels of the hierarchy.
2) Do you just use them to check sometimes that might trigger projects?
No
3) Do you connect your projects to your areas of focus? (I think I've read about people doing that to see how much they work with each area and to see that nothing gets neglected)
The software that I use supports this connection. Otherwise it’s too difficult.
4) Do you use sub-areas?
Not really.
5) How do they differ from the "higher-level goals" (Like for example I have a goal "Become financially independent" and an area called "Economy" since that is important for me, to me that feels quite similar, except that the goal is more concrete) I also have a goal like "get a post in the city council" which also feels more concrete than "Political Party name" as my area of focus is named
I use “Money” as an area of focus. It is there at many levels. Saving for retirement is a long-term goal. At the highest level, I have “Financial security for life, wife and beyond.” Together these give rise to projects like “Find a financial advisor“ and actions like ”check quarterly statement.” It’s not a top-down or bottom-up hierarch, but organized by frequency of review needed. It is a hierarchy of focus.
 

gtdstudente

Registered
Hi guys!

I am implementing GTD "from the bottom up" as suggested by DA and feel that I have a quite good grip on capturing my open loops, having projects, using my waiting for list, using S/M lists, etc.

But I am not so sure about the "higher levels" especially the "areas of focus"

Currently, my areas of focus are:

  • Work (I work as a software developer and work basically on all the code stack, so I can't really (or at least don't know how to) break it down to more areas as DA suggests in the book)
  • Political engagement
  • Side hustle
  • Economy
  • Health
  • Friends (added last weekly review)


And I check them but basically do nothing with them on each weekly review (Don't really know what I should do with them)

I get that they should represent important areas of your life, and I feel that mine are, but I am not really sure what to do with the list to give me any value!

So an array of questions:

1) How/why do you use them? (How should you use them?)
2) Do you just use them to check sometimes that might trigger projects?
3) Do you connect your projects to your areas of focus? (I think I've read about people doing that to see how much they work with each area and to see that nothing gets neglected)
4) Do you use sub-areas?
5) How do they differ from the "higher-level goals" (Like for example I have a goal "Become financially independent" and an area called "Economy" since that is important for me, to me that feels quite similar, except that the goal is more concrete) I also have a goal like "get a post in the city council" which also feels more concrete than "Political Party name" as my area of focus is named

Thanks!
Thank you very much for bring up one of my favorite and most productive GTD subjects/topics as it pertains to "from the bottom-up" 'Organize' for less on-going deliberation energy.

I attempt to monitor/review my life-parameters (obligations/responsibilities) for 'Mind Like Water' and keep my mind from going numb by way of these Four discreet Areas of Focus and know what Particular Areas of Focus has potential Project(s) which are clearly encompassing either Excess(es)-or-Defect(s) for Next Action(s). This allows me to more readily identify more easily to rid of any Excess(es)-or-Defect(s) in my life's parameters (obligations/responsibilities).

As such, if any Particular Areas of Focus has neither Excess(es)-or-Defect(s), then that Particular Areas of Focus will be without a Next Action(s) and as such is in a 'let go' Equilibrium State to facilitate a "Mind Like Water" :) Ps. As a little short-cut mental tip, 'Excess(es)' tend to need 'Emptying' while 'Defect(s)' tend to need 'Filling':

1. Spiritual-Health (Divine dependence) Extrinsic / Intrinsic [Intellect {Examine-Conscience, Truth-Contemplating/Meditating}, Offerings [Glorifying(s), Thanksgiving(s), Reparation(s), Petitions(s)], Volition {Intention(s), Habits/Skill(s) Development}], Works-of-Mercy (Corporal-&-Spiritual), etc.
2. Corporal-Health (Energy/Vibrancy/Vitality) . . . all relationships Extrinsic to the Divine: Antagonists[Adolescences]-to-Avoid: Envious, Jealous, Saboteurs and Protagonists-for-Mature-Engagement(s): Acquaintances, Clients, Colleagues, Family, Friends, Providers, and Self, Works-of-Mercy (Corporal-&-Spiritual), etc., Intrinsic Body, Dental, Emotional Balance(s) {Aversions-&-Desires}, Daily-Exercises, Habits/Skills Development(s), Good Hydration/Nutrition (Medications, Supplements), Quality-Sleep, Phantasm (Vivid Imagination-&-Clear Memory)]
3. Fiscal (Prosperity) External/Internal concerns: Assets, Debts, Expenses, Income, Insurance, Taxes, etc.
4. Tools/Utilities (Minimized) for A. External use: Car, Cell, Coordinates [All, NE, NW, SE, SW], eBay, Internet, ect. B. Tools for Internal use: Calendar-&-Tickler, Computer, Bicycle(s), Home [Appliances, Basement, Bathroom, Bedrooms, Computer, Kitchen, Office, Laundry-Area, etc.], etc.
 
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TesTeq

Registered
I use “Money” as an area of focus. It is there at many levels. Saving for retirement is a long-term goal. At the highest level, I have “Financial security for life, wife and beyond.” Together these give rise to projects like “Find a financial advisor“ and actions like ”check quarterly statement.” It’s not a top-down or bottom-up hierarch, but organized by frequency of review needed. It is a hierarchy of focus.
@mcogilvie That's the problem that I struggle with from the beginning of my GTD journey: Money. Let me explain:
  • If I have my savings - that's "Money" Area of Focus;
  • If I have home and I have a mortgage and taxes to pay - that's "Money" AoF but also "Real Estate" AoF;
  • If I bought a car on credit and I have installments to pay - that's "Money" AoF but also "Car" AoF.
Money is a universal value carrier so "Money" AoF has common parts with all other areas. But I would prefer sharp divisions!
 

mcogilvie

Registered
@mcogilvie That's the problem that I struggle with from the beginning of my GTD journey: Money. Let me explain:
  • If I have my savings - that's "Money" Area of Focus;
  • If I have home and I have a mortgage and taxes to pay - that's "Money" AoF but also "Real Estate" AoF;
  • If I bought a car on credit and I have installments to pay - that's "Money" AoF but also "Car" AoF.
Money is a universal value carrier so "Money" AoF has common parts with all other areas. But I would prefer sharp divisions!
I think that overlap of areas is just the nature of things. You’re right that money is an acute case, but I think it’s similar to the filing system problem: do you file under “car” or “auto” or “Honda” or what? There has to be an intuitive dividing line at the lowest levels: car payments with bills to pay and hence ”Money”, but maintenance-related things (next actions, projects, reference) are ”car”, which I classify as part of “Household”.

At the higher levels, the overlap can’t be handled in the same way. I might want that trip to the Galapagos (my wife is a biologist), which falls into my “Travel” area, but “Money” is a factor, and right now “Health” is too. So right now the Galapagos trip project is Someday-Maybe, somewhere around the 2-5 year horizon. I think the model actually works pretty well for me.

At a practical level, you can associate next actions and projects with multiple areas if you use a tagging system. Then the question becomes “Is the value worth the effort?” I suspect for most people and most list tools it’s not.
 

gtdstudente

Registered
I think that overlap of areas is just the nature of things. You’re right that money is an acute case, but I think it’s similar to the filing system problem: do you file under “car” or “auto” or “Honda” or what? There has to be an intuitive dividing line at the lowest levels: car payments with bills to pay and hence ”Money”, but maintenance-related things (next actions, projects, reference) are ”car”, which I classify as part of “Household”.

At the higher levels, the overlap can’t be handled in the same way. I might want that trip to the Galapagos (my wife is a biologist), which falls into my “Travel” area, but “Money” is a factor, and right now “Health” is too. So right now the Galapagos trip project is Someday-Maybe, somewhere around the 2-5 year horizon. I think the model actually works pretty well for me.

At a practical level, you can associate next actions and projects with multiple areas if you use a tagging system. Then the question becomes “Is the value worth the effort?” I suspect for most people and most list tools it’s not.
Love the idea of also using Someday/Maybe also for further/until clear classifications/divisions present themselves for their true purpose/value . . . thank you
 

Cpu_Modern

Registered
Work (I work as a software developer and work basically on all the code stack, so I can't really (or at least don't know how to) break it down to more areas as DA suggests in the book)
- career development (for example giving speeches at OSS events in order to establish yourself as the go-to guy for a specific subject matter)
- professional development: learning thing, getting an AGile cert, bullying your employer to pay for a webinar, etc
 

Cpu_Modern

Registered
Money is a universal value carrier so "Money" AoF has common parts with all other areas.
Sure, but money is only one of these things. Another one is health. No health, everything sucks. If health bar goes to zero, existence stops. So the "universiality" of health is even bigger than that of money. The other two are relationships (Covey) and your decision in terms of life purpose (50,000ft).
 

gtdstudente

Registered
@mcogilvie That's the problem that I struggle with from the beginning of my GTD journey: Money. Let me explain:
  • If I have my savings - that's "Money" Area of Focus;
  • If I have home and I have a mortgage and taxes to pay - that's "Money" AoF but also "Real Estate" AoF;
  • If I bought a car on credit and I have installments to pay - that's "Money" AoF but also "Car" AoF.
Money is a universal value carrier so "Money" AoF has common parts with all other areas. But I would prefer sharp divisions!
I think am empathetic and sympathetic to your 'struggle' classifying "Money" and, as such, this is how I 'manage/classify' it as simply as possible without getting too deep into accounting - used just as a thinking apparatus. According to my parameters Fiscal/Money [alphabetically ordered] incudes: Debts, Income [and A/R], Expenses (and A/P), while Assets are Tool(s) [Props] and include all tangibles: Appliances, Books, Cars, Computers, House, ect. OK . . . clear? Now these Tool(s) only have a Fiscal/Money classification if there is a Payable Note/Obligation attached to them, i.e., Loan on the Car, Mortgage on the House, etc. and remains as a Project concern(s) until the Fiscal/Money Obligation is completed/resolved . . . If the Car is Debt-Free and the House is Mortgage-Free, ect. then they are no longer a Fiscal/Money Project concern(s) unless they are to be sold. Annual Car, House insurance premium(s), Taxes, etc. if paid in full only a Fiscal/Money issue upon Renewal otherwise not a Project(s) concern(s). If being paid via monthly installments then it remains a Fiscal/Money ongoing Project/Next Action concern(s). Moving on . . . let's say the the Car needs new tires, repair, ect. and the House needs a need a new appliance(s), roof(s), etc. . . . until those Project concerns are addressed, completed, and paid-for-in-full they remain a dual Project concern(s) Fiscal/Money and Tool(s) concern(s). Thus, bottom-line, when that has been accomplished and exist in one's life without a Fiscal/Money obligation then the Tires, Appliances, Roof, ect. are, along with their Warranties, etc. now simply have one classification: Tools. Hope this has contributed some degree of increase in "Mind Like Water" for you and others. Thank you. :)

Ps. For Fiscal/Money and Tool(s), I also make distinction(s) between Practice [pA: for Check-List(s), Habit(s)/Protocal(s)/Skill(s) Fluency(ies)], Persons [pR: for Harmonious/Reciprocity Relationship(s) including with the Divine {perennially-outdone, and as such, always behind the '8-Ball' :) } and self], Props [pP: usually an Empty-State is optimal], and Provisions [pV: usually a Full-State is optimal] and would be happy to express those applicable distinctions to anyone that might be interested. Thank you.
 
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Oogiem

Registered
1) How/why do you use them? (How should you use them?)
I keep my AOFs as a separate list but then I review al my projects through that lens.
2) Do you just use them to check sometimes that might trigger projects?
I use them at my quarterly reviews and yes, I do use them to be sure I am keeping a balanced approach to my projects. If I have an AOF with no projects I look at why and try to adjust. That said I have an AOF of World Traveler and needless to say, NOTHING got done on that in over a year. :)
3) Do you connect your projects to your areas of focus? (I think I've read about people doing that to see how much they work with each area and to see that nothing gets neglected)
Yes, I do not like not knowing what AOF(s) a project can be attached to. My big breakthrugh was that a single project can cross AFOs and that is ok.
4) Do you use sub-areas?
Yes, For example I have an AOF of Sheep Flock and Farm Management and I have sub areas of Our own Desert Weyr Flock and also the national flock (actually US and Canada) as I ma the registrar for the association. It actually crosses over into Community Involvement AOF too.
5) How do they differ from the "higher-level goals" (Like for example I have a goal "Become financially independent" and an area called "Economy" since that is important for me, to me that feels quite similar, except that the goal is more concrete) I also have a goal like "get a post in the city council" which also feels more concrete than "Political Party name" as my area of focus is named
I don't really have higher level goals as such. I have goals that may take years or decades to realize but they are not "higher level" per se.
 

Murray

Registered
Sure, but money is only one of these things. Another one is health. No health, everything sucks. If health bar goes to zero, existence stops. So the "universiality" of health is even bigger than that of money. The other two are relationships (Covey) and your decision in terms of life purpose (50,000ft).
It's all connected!
 

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