Project People vs. Area People: Are You Running a Sprint Or a Marathon? - Forte Labs - Deepstash
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Projects and areas

The most effective way to organise work and life is by projects and areas of responsibility.

A project is an endeavour that has

  1. a desired outcome that you can mark off as complete,
  2. a timeframe by which you'd like it done.

An area of responsibility has 

  1. a standard to be maintained that
  2. is continuous over time.

In essence, a project ends while areas continue indefinitely.


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Every project has a corresponding area that it falls within

Every project has a corresponding area that it falls within

  • Running a marathon is a project. Health is an area.
  • Publishing a book is a project. Writing is an area.
  • A vacation to Thailand is a project. Travel is an area.

In the above examples, the projects have completion dates. The projects finish when the desired outcome is achieved. But just because a project is over doesn't mean you can forget about that area of your life.


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Every area of responsibility has a standard to be maintained

There is no end date or final outcome with the area of responsibility. Your performance may increase or decrease over time, but the standard continues indefinitely and requires a certain level of attention.

Areas have no finish line you can reach that allows you to "complete" managing your health or "achieve" writing once and for all.


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Projects and areas are interdependent

Projects and areas are interdependent

At a deep level, projects and areas depend on each other.

A project is like a rocket taking off. It starts with an explosion of energy toward an objective. Your areas are like the stable infrastructure that enables that rocket to take off.

By keeping your areas of responsibility healthy and thriving, you are building up reserves of strength that can be spent in an explosive burst of energy toward a goal that matters to you.


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Project people vs Area people

Project people vs Area people

“Project people” are good at sprints. Give them a clear goal and a path to get there, and they'll chase after it.

The weakness of sprinters: Once they've reached their goal, they will lose interest, only to change direction and run after the next goal.

“Area people” excel at marathons. Send them on a long journey with some supplies, and they will keep at it for as long as it takes.

The weakness of marathoners: They have trouble generating a lot of power on short notice. They have difficulty changing direction when an opportunity requires quick, decisive action.


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Project person: improving your ability to sustain your areas

  • Adopt a morning or evening routine
  • Set limits to your working hours
  • Take regular breaks and walks in nature
  • Journal and write out your internal anxieties and thoughts
  • Create a mindful habit
  • Set your intentions each day, week, month, or year
  • Evaluate your schedule for a balance of intense work and healthy, mindful activities


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Area person: improving your ability to execute projects

  • Set a deadline with consequences
  • Use “timeboxing” to concentrate your energy output
  • Promise someone that you’ll deliver by a certain time
  • Schedule a meeting or presentation during which you’ll show your work
  • Reduce the scope of the project and drop features as the deadline approaches
  • Break the project down into smaller pieces and set milestones for each one to be finished by
  • Design your working environment to promote focus by removing distractions and notifications


22 reads

The explosive power of projects

When you launch a new project, you have to set aside many of your usual habits, routines, and boundaries you usually rely on. You must let go and focus every bit of energy on a single outcome. For example, when you’re about to close a big sales contract with an important client, that isn't the time to rigidly stick to your gym routine.

When you temporarily let go of control in this way, a considerable amount of extra energy becomes available to you.


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“Efficiency is doing better that what is already being done.” Peter Drucker


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