Growth May 16, 2011 Last updated May 16th, 2011 659 Reads share

Stay Focused: Decide What Is Important

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For those of you who have been reading my blog posts for the last year, you will have noticed a reoccurring theme in a few of my posts, where I am looking at how one can become more effective in getting things done.

In my last post I introduced you to The Pomodoro Technique, in which one tries to structure their day, so that they can remain focused on completing the tasks that are most important to them.

The Pomodoro Technique is very good at helping you remain focused on tasks, however how does one decide which tasks they should actually be focusing on?  One of the ways in which I do this is by applying one of the elements from the David Allen Getting Things Done methodology, called the Horizons of Focus.

Horizons of Focus asks to look at your life from varying perspectives, starting at the ground level where you identify all the day to day tasks that have your attention, ending at the 50,000 feet level where you answer those big questions in life like “Why am I here” and “What are my values and beliefs”

Below are brief descriptions of the different Horizons of Focus

  • Runway  – Next Actions
    What tasks do you have on your radar that need to be done immediately.  e.g. reply to that email my boss sent, or buy birthday cake for my daughter’s birthday.
  • 10,000 feet – Projects
    All the things you have committed to finish that take more than one step to complete.  For example organise a birthday party for my daughter, create a new company website, fix bathroom shower.
  • 20,000 feet – Areas of Focus & Responsibility
    These are the agreements you have with yourself about your responsibilities, interests and focus areas e.g. being a parent, spouse, team manager, website content owner, keeping fit etc.  These should be reviewed monthly to ensure that the projects you working on are aligned with these roles.
  • 30,000 feet – Goals and Objectives
    What do you want to achieve in the next 12-18 months.  For example Sales volume increased by 30%, or I want to be able to run a marathon.
  • 40,000 feet – Vision
    Long term 3 to 5 year goals.  What would success look, sound or feel like that far down the road.  This is something that you should write down and review once a year to make sure.  Your Vision should always be supported by your 12-18 month goals and objectives.
  • 50,000 feet – Purpose and Principles
    What is the purpose of the life that you are living?  What are your driving principles and beliefs.

The idea is that by going through each of these elevations and really thinking about the answers given, you will in effect have a road map that can guide you through deciding what tasks you should be working at on a daily basis.

A great example of where this road map can help is on those occasions when you have two or more potential projects, but you don’t have the bandwidth to work on all of them.  I find it really useful to base my decisions on the content of my higher elevation levels.  So I ask myself, does this project help support my 12-18 month objectives and does taking this project in any way conflict with my driving principles and beliefs.

I’m keen to hear your thoughts on this approach.  Would you find this useful?  Have you come across it before?  Do you use something similar?

Frank Bradley

Frank Bradley

I live in Kilkenny, Ireland, and I'm married with one daughter. I was born in Derry, and came to Kilkenny via Manchester, England, and Dublin. My passion is all things Social Media, and for the last 2 years I have been working as a Social Media Evangelist for Oracle, where I have worked for the last 8 years. This role entails, promoting the use of Social Media internally for improved communication and collaboration. My other interests include sports, especially football (soccer), reading, video games, movies/tv, music and walking.

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