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  • To Divide or Not to Divide: Professional v. Personal

    Ah, the age old question. I know David Allen doesn't regard keeping a dividing line as an important thing to do, but in regard to my system, I am reluctant to blend the two areas of life. I want to open this up to discussion in general, but I also have a question:

    I use Outlook (stock) and my Blackberry (also stock). I like to keep things as simple as possible, and it really does work well. Now I've run into an interesting situation that has me debating internally about what to do. I have a new job, and consequently, a new Outlook account at that job. My Outlook at home and my Outlook at work would normally communicate via Blackberry syncing on both ends (hardwired-not using Enterprise, yet). However, I don't have permission on my own computer at work to install Blackberry Sync and so my systems are not talking right now. I kind of like it, actually. When I pull up my next actions at work, all I see is work.

    Technical question: is there a way to keep personal and professional divided with this simple system, and yet use the tools I have in a universal way? In other words, does Outlook/BB have the functionality to isolate my lists (perhaps with some kind of tag), personal v. professional?

    Personal Preference Question: Should I blend or should I keep distinct? What do you think?
    Last edited by AaronJ16; 08-23-2010, 01:56 PM.

  • #2
    To me, it's a pretty natural distinction

    Work at work and personal at home. Of course, you may need to do some of each at the other place, but as a general rule I think they should be separated.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by AaronJ16 View Post
      \Personal Preference Question: Should I blend or should I keep distinct? What do you think?
      It's one life, keep it all in one place is my personal preference. Barring critical security inspired reasons to keep a compartmentalized system...

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      • #4
        I used to keep professional and personal separated but don't any longer. I found it to be a completely artificial division - I often work at home and do smaller personal things at work (e.g. during my lunch break, or make a quick phone call, etc). As Oogiem said, it's one life.

        I'm not using BB so cant' comment on that platform. I have to use Outlook/Exchange at work and have always used Outlook at home too. After switching to the iPhone last year, I started using a cloud-based GTD system (Toodledo) and earlier this year dumped personal Outlook at home and switched to GMail (which the iPhone handles really well).

        Having all of my personal stuff in the cloud is really handy at work and of course having all my work stuff available online while at home (Exchange remote login and GTD in the cloud) makes the "one life" concept work well.

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        • #5
          I have more than one life!

          Originally posted by PeterW View Post
          I used to keep professional and personal separated but don't any longer. I found it to be a completely artificial division - I often work at home and do smaller personal things at work (e.g. during my lunch break, or make a quick phone call, etc). As Oogiem said, it's one life.
          Fortunately I have more than one life!

          I draw clear lines between my lives - as an entrepreneur, blogger, family member, windsurfer & runner etc.

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          • #6
            I keep the projects list separate, but the Next Actions together. I find it helpful to keep the projects lists apart so that I don't have to run through 200 odd projects to find the dozen or so projects I might fancy doing on a Sunday morning. However since my @Home list is where most of my Home next actions go anyway, it doesn't seem logical for me to keep them in a separate system altogether.

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            • #7
              I'd call those roles

              Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
              Fortunately I have more than one life!

              I draw clear lines between my lives - as an entrepreneur, blogger, family member, windsurfer & runner etc.
              Those are roles to me, not separate lives. What gets done in those roles will affect every other one as well. I just can't separate the various facets of my life that way, it's all interconnected.

              I'm a better farmer of sheep because I'm a spinner of wool. I'm a better knitter because I also weave. I'm a better housekeeper because I organize my work using GTD and so on.

              I currently try to put my projects into folders organized by my roles or areas of focus but even that is starting to blur as so many projects relate to multiple areas. Even single next actions may be said to support multiple projects and areas at times.

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              • #8
                I think a lot of it may have to do with whether you work at home or not

                I work in a regular office, so that in itself leads to some degree of separation since there are definitely different systems anchored for me in both places, with only my cell phone, pieces of paper, thumb drives, or email to bridge the two places.

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                • #9
                  You cannot play with a child at the office because you're not paid to do it and it will not bring you more money. You can still earn money while at home but that will make your kid unhappy. So is there a sence to divide personal and professional?

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                  • #10
                    I cannot see such connections in my life (lives).

                    Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                    I'm a better farmer of sheep because I'm a spinner of wool. I'm a better knitter because I also weave. I'm a better housekeeper because I organize my work using GTD and so on.
                    I cannot see such connections in my life (lives). Faster run or better windsurfing technique does not help me in business development. Neither my blogging nor my family is connected with my company.

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                    • #11
                      Keep your "master" data in one place.

                      I think you should keep your appointments action reminders in one place. I lived with split systems for a while and it hampered me, especially at the weekly review. You can do it, but it makes GTD more difficult (IMO).

                      Like Stephen Covey suggests, keep one master calendar. If you can't synch your work calendars directly to it, you have to copy the data into it manually. The same thing applies to action list reminders.

                      Since you're using Outlook in both places, you might be able to export bits of your calendar to CSV files, e-mail the CSV files home, and import them there. That will cut down manual re-entry. If you can't, you'll have to manually update your lists either on your BB or the computer to which it syncs.

                      I know nobody wants to do double-duty entering things, but having it all in one place requires that sort of thing. Shared Outlook calendars existed before PDAs that could sync to them. What did people do? They took their mid-tech planners and copied the appointments by hand.

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                      • #12
                        This is a personal choice thing and not a black/white rule with GTD.

                        If you do decide to blend them, it's not so much that they relate to each other, it's more about having a comprehensive system that allows you to toggle between whatever you choose to focus on, easily.

                        For what it's worth, I have:

                        Computer
                        Computer - Personal
                        Projects - Work
                        Projects - Personal
                        Someday - Work
                        Someday- Personal

                        All other lists are blended personal/professional, which works fine for me. All kept in the same system though of Lotus Notes.

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