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The Importance of Vertical Focus Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Something missing from most of the attempts at a computer-based GTD solution that I have seen (including the most-excellent kGTD ;) ), is an ability to easily plan and review from different "altitudes" —

• 50,000+ feet: Life
• 40,000 feet: 3- to 5-year vision
• 30,000 feet: 1- to 2-year goals
• 20,000 feet: areas of responsibility
• 10,000 feet: current projects
• Runway: current actions

IMHO, having a super-firm grasp of and vision for the higher levels is just as important as being able to determine and track your next actions in appropriate contexts. After all, if you're going to do anything, you ought to make sure it jives with the direction you want your life headed.

If you're not reviewing your 1- to 2-year goals at least biweekly, your 3- to 5-year vision monthly, and your life goals a couple times a year, you leave yourself open to committing time and resources to projects and actions that aren't ultimately fulfilling what you want out of life.

The problem lies in having a system that doesn't visually and functionally allow you to separate these elevations out for review. It lessens the impact of a life goal when it's jumbled in with 100 or more "10,000" foot projects that you are reviewing each week.

On the other hand, it would also be nice to integrate these different elevations so that you can tie your projects and next actions to them, i.e.:

Buy fresh vegetables (next action)<Increase Health and Energy (project)<Run in Boston Marathon (1- to 2-year goal)<Be Healthy and Fit at 100 (Life Goal)

Is this making sense to anyone other than me? :p

Thanks for the forum! I have a feeling this is going to be Omni's best app ever!
 
Life Balance does a great job at this sort of high-level planning view of your life, and frankly, I find it intrusive.

I don't need software to tell me that I want to develop my career and feed my family. I need software to help me at the tactical level of, well, getting things done.

At the same time, many task planners allow various levels of hierarchy, so both sides can be served by including this sort of outline. My outline would start at "work" and "home," whereas yours might start at "create a better world" and "become closer to my family" and "develop my career" or whatever.

Personally, the greatest advantage of GTD is that it separates out the planning and hierarchical sorting of actions and projects from the tactical "do this now!". My projects can be infinite and esoteric, but in the end, I need to go to the store and buy some bananas.
 
Yes, indeed... we're all out of bananas.

I always tell my students that the Seven Habits type approach is a bit like asking a philosopher how he'd put up some shelving.

You do need a carpenter who can ask the right questions, though.
 
I think the thread-starter was misunderstood (or I misunderstand, in which case this suggests something important!).

My kGTD projects section, when printed out, is about 15 pages long. The action sections are too long.

What I have changed to doing is having two: one in which I record "everything" and one I regenerate every Sunday with the stuff I have decided has to be done this week. This doesn't work very well!

I don't use the GTD approach to worry about the 10K-ft level. But I wish I could prioritise loosely. Even filtering by start date would be a start.
 
I agree that something like this would be useful.

At my company we had to do division-wide plans and status reports. This was done by having everyone write up their status/accomplishments and then future plans in an email. These emails would be sent to their immediate supervisors who would summarize all of the accomplishments and plans, by project, and then pass that up to the next level of management. This would continue all the way up.

We developed a system that let people enter in contemporaneous notes on projects as the week progressed. You could also enter in plans (things to be done) on a project. At the end of the week, or anytime you liked, you could summarize one or more of your entries into a single entry. This new entry took the place of the detail entries -- although you could drill down into the original records anytime you wanted.

The way this worked in the UI was that you would check-off the items that you wanted to consolidate, hit a button, and then those entries would be concatenated into a new text box for you to edit.

Monday morning, the managers would look at all of the entries and would summarize them. This might involve summarizing project status from several people working on the same project. The managers would typically put a high-level 'spin' on the summary -- leaving out a lot of detail that the staffers felt important, but that management could care less about.

This system was a thing of beauty. The only thing that would have made it better would have been some way of communicating back down the chain. Something along the lines of the now out-of-print "One Page Management" book. (http://www.amazon.com/Page-Managemen...e=UTF8&s=books)

The system was unfortunately killed during a big reorganization of the division. Some of the managers continued using it for their new groups.
 
GTD lacks chunking, a mechanism for grouping related items to optimize them for use by human memory and cognition.

George Miller wrote a paper about it in 1956.

The short version is that people can deal with only 5-9 things at a time. (That was in 1956. More recent studies find us more comfy with 3-5 items.) Once you go over the maximum, you should start "chunking" them into meaningful groups, creating a hierarchy with manageable chunks at each level.

I'd like OmniFocus to have a flexible way to group items together into chunks.
 
I agree on having another level of organization beyond projects for summarizing or chunking. I accidentally created a duplicate project today because didn't see the original in my growing list of projects. Having the 50,000 ft. view is NOT important... I don't need a 20,000 ft view of "buy windshield wipers" I just need it on the list when go past the auto-parts store.

I'm far more interested in the nuts and bolts of integrating *this* tool with the various contexts of my life... iCal and Mail integration crucial for when I'm on the Mac BUT I really need quick way to output/ or sync contextual Actions for when I run out the door....

Now get coding.
 
I'd like to see some way to generically group projects as well. I'd like to be able to OPTIONALLY assign an area of focus to each project, and be able to view all projects grouped by area of focus (at monthly review time but not day-to-day).

I remember when I first started GTD I didn't "get" the different levels of focus but now I appreciate how it fits together in a very loose hierarchy. I had a minor epiphany when I realized some of the items on my project list were actually not projects but ongoing areas of focus which would regularly spawn projects.

I don't see a lot of value in going above the "areas of focus" view in a software program though.. I think actions, projects, and groupings of projects are enough. For instance, some of my areas of focus actually satisfy more than one of my personal goals so everything tends to get fuzzy past the 20,000ft view. Besides, I don't have 500 life goals that I have to slice and dice and sort, like I do projects.

It's interesting, outliners like OmniOutliner are a little too top-down, you can add children to items but you can't easily switch the parent. For GTD, it's nice to start at the leaves and work your way up, so I can't wait to see how the two approaches might mesh in OmniFocus.
 
I need to have some place to put my "long view" plans, and a way to schedule a review of them periodically. I think this was what the Thread Starter meant.

For example, one long term plan may be to find out what Assisted Living place has the most graduates / faculty of Double Dome Institute of Technology, and prepare to move in there, if necessary. Since I don't plan on needing Assisted Living for 30+ years, this is long term! But, there are things I need to thin about now ... how am I going to get the money to pay my rent, if the place doesn't exist, should I and some friends start one, etc. I don't wan to forget about this for 25 years -- it may be too late by then.

So I need, on my GTD list, "Double Dome Retirement Home", and I need to see this crop up on my Action List once a year for now. That's all. I don't need a project, but I do need to be reminded of this every year or so.

Likewise, last May I knew I wanted to give a seminar on a specific topic at a conference in April 2007 ... I wish I could have a regular reminder to do my research every month for 6 months, every 2 weeks for another 3 months, then every week. At some point (like now, when the call for proposals has been issued) I would set up an entire project.

In summary, I want OmniFu to have the ability for me to keep a one liner for long term things, and to have them crop up on my current lists at intervals I can specify.
 
I would find it immensely helpful to have the system enable a view at the 20,000-ft level ("Areas of responsibility"), probably not beyond, though.

Something like "winning new customers" is clearly not an action and it is not a project either, because it will never be finished until I retire. It is rather an "area of responsbility" which triggers new projects for years to come.

I would love to be able to define and review these areas periodically in order to see whether the projects in a specific area are sufficient or the creation of one or more new projects is warranted.

That would help not to get lost in the avalanche of day-to-day tactical stuff - some kind of rudimentary strategic focus.

Likewise for other areas like friends, family, partnerships/networking, professional development and others.

For me, the addition of this capability would be a buy/no-buy criterion.

Regards,
Gerald.
 
 


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