Friday, 6 July 2012

Working on Areas of Focus

The 20,000 ft level, which David Allen terms Areas of Focus, is a really interesting and useful area to engage with for many reasons.  I was working with GTD for about 6 months before I turned my attention to this area, but I have maintained it fairly well ever since and try to review both my professional and personal Areas of Focus once a month.  I keep them in a mindmap (using a free software called Freemind) and find that they are much more comfortable to review and work with in this format.  My Areas of Focus give me an overview of areas I want to maintain and reviewing them regularly allows me to keep a good balance of projects within my system and check that no area I deem important is neglected.  This doesn't mean that I have a project for every area all of the time, but it does remind me to check in and make sure the area is reviewed for any projects or actions that I might need to add to the system. 

I recently embarked upon a project to write a statement about each of my Areas of Focus, personal and professional, following a piece on the David Allen Company Forums by one of the coaches, Julie Ireland.  The idea is to envision success and write about how it would look and feel.  I thought it would be good to share my first statement here.  This is for one of my professional areas and it was great to go for wild success without any inhibitions:
I am working efficiently and proactively for the department making my scientists' lives easier. They feel confident that they can give me tasks and know these will be completed without fuss. My office is tidy but comfortable and an excellent workspace to complement my GTD system. The office is welcoming and my colleagues feel comfortable in asking for my help. The stationery area is tidy and items are well arranged and easy to find. I enjoy my work and manage my hours and workload to ensure that my health remains good and I have a good work/life balance.  
I felt really good after writing this and it has given me a feeling of greater purpose in my work.  I am looking forward to taking the process forward with my other areas over the coming weeks and months.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Capture tools

Collecting thoughts when you have them is a key part of the GTD process and there are many articles out there about capture tools.  I recently read a blog post by Andrew Marvin on the subject on his website  It's a great round-up of apps for i-phone as well as "old school" pen and paper. 

I have just been lucky enough to win a David Allen Company Notetaker Wallet so will be testing this out as my capture tool for the next few weeks.  The pen geek in me is already impressed with the pen which has a funky telescopic mechanism!  I'll be sure to report back on how it performs...

Friday, 24 February 2012

Finding the right day for the weekly review

I spent a number of weeks when I first tried to make my review a truly weekly habit working out which day was best for my routine. Many people review on a Friday - clearing the decks and cleaning the system in time to enjoy a weekend free of work distractions. I tried this as my day for reviewing, but it somehow did not gel with me. So I tried a Thursday instead and had immediate success - the timing just felt right. I have been wondering about the reason for this and how my experience might aid others who might be struggling to make the review a habit.
  • Friday, for me, felt too late in the week perhaps because the nature of my work throws a large number of small tasks my way (as well as larger more involved projects). If I picked up on items during the review, I wanted to have the time and option of doing them before the end of the week. A review on Friday gave insufficient time for this
  • My energy levels often feel depleted by the end of the week - I wanted to give my review a good chance of being done properly and thoroughly
  • Urgent items to be completed before the weekend had a habit of shunting my review so that I either didn't do it at all, or only managed a part of it. I didn't get the full benefit of a complete review and the weekly clean and current feeling.

I can really recommend trying out different days and times (morning is best for me) to find something that really fits with your routine and energy.

With my review on a Thursday, I have ingrained the habit and am reaping real rewards. My system is more comfortable and complete and my intuition on what actions to choose is really keen. This is one habit that I intend to hold onto!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Power of the Weekly Review Habit

This week's review made me realise, once again, just how important and powerful the weekly review habit is. I had thought that I was keeping fairly well on top of things this week - all my lists were up to date, inboxes clear - but as I moved through the review I picked up on quite a number of items that were important but hadn't got into my system. I also spotted some important Waiting For items that weren't on my lists. If I hadn't stopped the world for an hour and reviewed my system I think a lot of these items might well have slipped through the cracks.

I have a reasonably solid system, which I trust, but a part of that trust is most certainly down to the weekly review and the uncanny ability that the process has to pick up on loose threads. If my reviews were more sporadic, I feel that the element of trust would be eroded and the safety net that the regular review provides would be rather holey. Building the habit each and every week has helped me to trust my system and fully take control of every area of my work with confidence.