GTD Journey: Connecting it all with a Dashboard 🚩
After I re-read the book “Making it all Work” by David Allen last year I started to think more about the Higher Horizons.
Basically, in the GTD framework, we can have different levels of control over what we are doing. They are called Horizons of Focus.
In summary, they are:
- Ground: Calendar/actions
- Horizon 1: Projects
- Horizon 2: Areas of focus and accountability
- Horizon 3: One to two-year goals and objectives
- Horizon 4: Three-to five-year vision
- Horizon 5: Purpose and principles
You can read the full definitions here.
The Ground level is what is going on right now, right in front of us: meetings and appointments we have on our calendar and our next actions.
Horizon 1 represents our Projects, the things we want to accomplish that will require more than one action. A project requires various next actions until it can be completed. It can be short: completing 3 next actions renders the project complete in a week, or long: multiple next actions that complete the project within a year or so.
So usually a Task Manager and a Calendar app will cover the Ground and Horizon 1 Levels.
Horizons 2 to 5 are what I'm calling the Higher Horizons here. It works as a framework to align all of our actions and projects with our larger goals.
There are many ways to build this framework and the choices are highly personal. Some people like to have mind maps, connected notes, bullet point lists, outliner apps, or a combination of those.
I decided to create a spreadsheet where I could organize this information in one place. And also, I wanted it to be useful for my planning routines. So what I did was a blend of planning and higher horizons perspectives.
I'll try to explain how I set it up below.
My GTD Dashboard 🚩
I set up an Excel spreadsheet to help me organize the “Higher Horizons”. But I also added some planning tabs that help me link the higher horizons with my planning process. I keep one file per year.
I have the following tabs:
In summary, the tabs contain:
- My GTD System: an overview of my tools and routines with some links.
- YEAR PLANNING: high-level planning I do every December to think about the incoming year.
- MONTHLY PLANNING: Divided into quarters, it's an overview of my plans for the incoming month/quarter.
- HORIZON 01 – PROJECTS: A projects log list.
- HORIZON 02 – AREAS OF FOCUS: a summary of my areas of focus and the distribution of projects. The detailed information about each of the areas is kept in a separate mind map file.
- HORIZONS 03-04 : Goals and Vision: I fill this out at the beginning of the year when I reflect on each area of focus and decide what I want to focus on next.
- END OF YEAR REVIEW: a checklist for a reflection exercise and ideas for the next year.
For Horizon 05: Purpose and principles, I actually have a text document, that can be accessed from a link I added to the spreadsheet in the “My GTD System” tab.
I also have a link to another text document called “Big Picture”. As part of my end-of-the-month review, I do a write-up with the highlights of the month. This is a Word document and is not part of the spreadsheet.