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.


  1. Sarah, that's a solid statement! I read it on Connect and reading it again here just reinforces to me that I need to be much more explicit with my own visions for my Areas of Focus. Good job!

  2. Sarah, I just read your complete blog!... from day one to this last entry. It has shown me "someone's journey" implementing gtd. The principles embedded in your entries appear when you encounter them in your everyday life.
    Somehow reading your blog has inspired me to try implementing gtd personally! I read the book a year ago, and the "urgency of life" somehow overwhelmed me from taking control. I long to experience "mind like water".
    Thanks again for documenting your journey for us...:)

  3. For implementing GTD you can use this this application:

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  4. @Rick:
    Sorry that I didn't see your response when you posted it. I'm so very pleased that my blog has inspired you and hope that you have managed to create a GTD system that works for you!
    All the best