The Six Levels of Perspective to Manage Your AttentionAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
"There is nothing as useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not have been done at all." ~ Peter F. Drucker
The last few articles have looked at how you can effectively manage your affairs through five steps that allow you to regain and maintain control of your life:
- You start by capturing everything that has your attention.
- You use a simple mental process to clarify exactly what each of your unfinished items mean and decide what you’re going to do with them.
- Then you organize the results of that process by putting reminders on the appropriate lists.
- Periodically, you reflect on the contents of your roadmap to give them the necessary perspective.
- And finally, you get things done, you act, you execute the actions that make the most sense to do at any given moment.
You will agree that this approach is logical, natural and just plain common sense.
But something else is needed because, as we have already established, you need a certain degree of perspective to know what you need to pay more attention to at any given moment. It would be absurd to be doing many things properly when it’s not the right time to do them.
What are you paying attention to? The perspective levels of the GTD methodology answer this question and help you manage your attention over time.
The horizons of focus allow you to apply six levels of perspective at different distances, so you can zoom out on the scale when you need a more general overview of where your life is going, and zoom in when you need to concentrate on more specific issues. The higher levels help you think clearly and the lower levels help you take action.
The levels of perspective contain information that allows you to understand in each moment what things are important to you. If you reflect on and periodically update this information, you will be able not only to have your life under control, but to direct it.
Let’s look at the six levels of perspective, going from the most generic to the most specific.
Purpose is at the top of the scale and encompasses the whole of your life. It answers the question “What am I here for?”.
It’s quite a momentous question and you may not yet be ready to give a really specific answer, but try to spend some time thinking about your current life and what could be the life goal of the person you are right now. It’s quite normal to have doubts, but write it down somewhere and revisit it from time to time. Over time, your purpose will become clearer.
The vision level involves imagining what you would like your life to be like in a few years. Answer the question, “If everything were to be ideal, what would my life be like a few years from now?”. Don’t go too far into the future, imagine your life three, four or five years from now.
Write about what would happen if you were successful in everything you want to do. Visualize it. Add pictures, quotes, and any information that represents success to you and is motivating. Who will you be? Where will you be? Who will you be with? What will you be doing?
Defining your vision is very important because, consciously or unconsciously, it will help you make decisions when difficult situations arise, and establish priorities.
Once you are clear about your purpose and have envisioned what your near future should look like, inspiration will strike. Suddenly, you will realize that you should do certain things and, for that vision to become a reality, some of those things should not take too long.
Goals are those achievements you intend to accomplish in the upcoming year and, of course, they should be aligned with your life purpose and vision for the future. These goals will help you decide where to focus your attention and energy.
When defining your goals, try to give them a time frame, even if it is generic: one month, six months, one year, more than one year. You can define your goals with phrases like: “I would like to (what) in (when)”.
Areas of Focus
Areas of Focus help you help you keep track of all those aspects of your life that you are committed to taking responsibility for.
These responsibilities change over the years, sometimes even within months if there are major changes in your life or new experiences (a new job, a new city, a new relationship, the birth of a child, the illness of a family member, etc.).
Thinking about what these areas of responsibility are, taking them on and keeping them up to date will help you take charge of your life with clarity and peace of mind.
As a starting point, take a look at the most common areas of focus shown in this article.
Projects and actions
Throughout the five steps that define the GTD daily workflow we have seen what the two lower levels of perspective consist of. They are the projects and actions that are generated as a result of the clarify step.
Actions define the physical and visible things you have to do and projects appear when you need more than one action to achieve the desired result.
The project list and action lists (calendar, next action list and waiting for list) currently have all the information that makes up your life at the execution level. You should already have material there and you will continue to incorporate things every day.
If you have done a good job on the higher levels of perspective (purpose, vision, goals and areas of focus), you will be able to determine with confidence what projects and actions you should carry out on a daily basis.
If you choose to reflect and take notes on these six levels of focus, especially the higher ones, you will gain a deeper perspective on your life and will tend to choose to engage in activities related to the issues that are truly important to you.
Review these insights from time to time, especially when you feel that your life is not progressing as you would like it to or when you have to make important decisions.
FacileThings provides you with the possibility to work and define your perspective levels, and to connect the actions and projects of your daily work with your life purpose, your vision of the future, your goals and your areas of responsibility.