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This post contains a list of Areas of Focus examples below, scroll down if that’s what you came here for. I will also discuss how to decide on your Areas of Focus and why you should also have sub areas of focus.
If you’re setting up a new GTD system, you probably have a few questions about the Areas of Focus list. It’s not a standard productivity tool used outside of GTD, although Tony Robbins recommends something similar in The Time of your Life.
What are the Areas of Focus?
In GTD the Areas of Focus list is the 20,000 feet horizon of focus. It lies above projects (10,000 feet) and below goals (30,000 feet.) Unlike projects and goals though, areas of focus are not something you can check off as complete. Instead they are the areas of your life.
Think of the areas of focus as the source of all your projects and goals, they are the parts of your life you have a responsibility to maintain. Think of them as the categories of your life under which all your projects and tasks can be placed.
Most people have to maintain their health, their finances, their relationships with family etc. So many areas of focus are common to all of us. However everyone also has parts of their lives that others don’t share, so your areas of focus list will be individual to you. If you need help figuring yours out, look at the examples below.
How to Know if Something is an Area of Focus or a Goal/Project?
The thing that differentiates an Area of Focus and a Goal/Project is the finish line. A project can be checked off as complete once you have gone through a certain number of action steps. A Goal is essentially a project with a longer time frame, it too can be checked off as complete. You might have a goal to climb Kilimanjaro in the next 5 years, once you’ve done it you can check it off. Similarly, a project to publish a book by the end of the year can be completed and checked off of your projects list.
An area of focus on the other hand is not something that can checked off as complete. It is instead something that needs to be maintained across time.
It creates projects/goals
An Area of Focus is actually the source of your projects and goals. ‘Climbing’ may be an Area of Focus in your life from which the project ‘climb Kilimanjaro’ came. Just as the project ‘publishing a book by the end of the year’ could have come from an Area of Focus ‘Writing.’
It is a large part of your life
You might still be wondering if something should be classed as an area of focus or not, especially if you find you already have a long list (over 15 items.)
Ask yourself this question, “Is this a large part of my life?” I play football occasionally but I wouldn’t call it an Area of Focus. I have an interest in baking, but again I wouldn’t call it an Area of Focus for me. Why? Because it’s not something that I feel I need to maintain, it’s just not that important to me, it’s not a large part of my life.
Areas of Focus Examples
This is not an exhaustive list but should give you a good idea of what an area of focus is.
- Social Life
- Home Management
- Musical Instrument
- Foreign Language
- Sport(Football, Tennis etc.)
- Martial Arts(Kung Fu, Jiu Jitsu etc.)
- Customer Service
- Quality Assurance
- Product Placement
- Product Development
- Public Relations
- Client Communication
- Event Planning
- Financial Reporting
- Social Media Presence
Sub Areas of Focus
Below the areas of focus there may also be sub areas that you need to maintain. Having both a list of your Areas of Focus and your sub areas can be useful if you are using it as a trigger list.
Creating an embedded list would be the quickest way to make such a list but as you add more and more items it becomes less readable. Using a mind-map can help here. It is a much more visual way of presenting the information, the divisions and sub-areas are easily distinguishable.
Above you can see David Allen’s Areas of Focus mind-map, along with sub areas to get a good idea how this might work.