Climbing the GTD ladder

GTD as a productivity methodology seems very tactical down to earth you have your action lists, contexts, projects and your project files. There is a lot of focus put on this area, after all it’s a bottom up approach system. This means that you sort out the chaos of your day to day activities and then look at the higher perspectives.

Where does it lead? Is the direction right?

So having a good grip on day to day stuff is really just a beginning. Once the mess around you sorted you will look further and new things will pop up. Do I take on project A or project B but project D looks exciting too. That means you need to make choices. At the same time having everything neatly organised for the sake of if isn’t really the point. It’s actually quite absurd. So why then? This is one of the BIG questions?

Where am i going?
What do i want from life?
Is the direction right?

GTD levels

Finding satisfying answers isn’t quick and easy process and it’s usually effect of long self reflection and deep thinking. As you go through a process of figuring these answers GTD can help you with leveraging your discoveries and integrating them in to your life. GTD offers the latitude model with two levels focused on the tactical aspects and other three dedicated to more strategic views.

  • 30k feet is about 1-2 year goals and defining what you want to become true in the space of 12-24 months. This relatively short time frame allows for being quite specific and action/project orientated.
  • 40k feet is about 3-5 year goals which although specific are usually beyond the have or do aspects and touch more on experiences, quality or life.
  • 50k feet focuses on life purpose, perhaps the most difficult one to know fully, it’s centered around values, contribution, meaning.

The content of these latitudes takes time to develop which means that they are less likely to change from day to day. Once you’ve decided what they are then they should form part of regular review. Some like to look at these levels on weekly basis others prefer monthly or quarterly. The frequency depends on you and how often do you want to ensure you’re on course.

Why you need to know the answers

So you’ve established your higher levels but what are other benefits that just knowing the direction. Where else clarity around your vision comes handy?

  • dealing with opportunities – every now and then we’re presented with opportunities,moving to another country, taking up a new job etc. These are big decisions and not easy to make. Yet once they are done in the context of 30-50k feet views they come much easier. It’s easier to see whether things fit into what we want, whether this step or that opportunity brings us closer.
  • too much going on – trying to tackle too many projects at once isn’t a pleasant thing. At some point you need to choose where your time goes. The easiest way to do it simply to know which of the projects will actually take you closer to your goals and choose those.

  • no effects – you put effort into some projects but can’t see any results. It seems that you’re spinning your wheels. This is perfect opportunity to review the higher altitudes. Look where you want to get, what are you aiming at and the see what needs to change. There may be projects that need to be dropped and other that need to started. This is very much like checking you’re map while walking a trail.

To sum this up figuring out your goals and lives purpose is like closing a loop. Whether you look at projects that you want focus on or those that should be abandoned, clarity on top will make the decisions easier. The better the decision you make the closer you will be to achieving desired vision.

Why now?

To be honest, I haven’t been looking at the higher levels often enough eventhough I created my yearly strategy. Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting different prompts to change that. First my mentor (really starting too see the benefits) got me to think about 5 year vision, that spurred further thinking about the direction of this blog and then I wasn’t happy with the results of my efforts on various fronts. As consequence I’ve looked at my project list, I’ve assigned myself specific actions to take time and think about higher levels. The process isn’t finished and I expected it will take a while but so far I like what I see. The image is getting sharper and the direction is getting clearer.