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Segregating work and personal systems

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  • Segregating work and personal systems

    In an ideal world my work laptop would be the central hub for my GTD system. I am trying to implement GTD but there is one issue that is keeping me from going all in. That is the problem associated with having personal data on my work laptop. If you dismiss the privacy concerns there are still real legal issues that arise by commingling my work and personal projects on my work laptop. Trying to maintain two systems is really hindering my adoption of the GTD lifestyle.

    How have you all dealt with this issue in your GTD systems?

  • #2
    I use an online (web-based) system so all of my data is in the cloud and not on the company's internal systems. Which means I can access it via the work computer or the home computer. It syncs with my iPhone and iPad so my data is available everywhere.

    Comment


    • #3
      Web-based systems are great but they raise a whole new set of legal concerns. My employer expressly forbids using things like Dropbox, Skydrive, etc... to store work documents. I'm sure they would frown upon using a web-based system for GTD.

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      • #4
        The company I work for wouldn't want internal documents stored on third-party servers either. I don't use my web-based system to do that. It's simply a task list and there is nothing in it that divulges sensitive information. Tasks can still be quite descriptive yet pose no risk of exposure.

        If that's not something you think you can do then I guess you're stuck with having two systems, which is not ideal.

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        • #5
          I agree the task lists aren't as sensitive. My main concern is that I have lots of digital project reference material and email which are often linked to tasks. I use Outlook and OneNote currently which makes linking and cross-referencing fairly painless. How do you handle your reference material? Does your web-based system allow you to link next actions with supporting documents?

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          • #6
            The company I work for has a very structured filing system so I always know where documents are located, whether they are soft copies or hard copies.

            I occasionally put a note on the task if the reference material isn't what I think is its logical location. For digital copies this will just be a path to a folder.

            Some web-based systems allow you to attach documents to tasks and I've tried that but in environments where documents are shared you can run into issues of version control.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by DavidH View Post
              How have you all dealt with this issue in your GTD systems?
              Quit working for someone else so I am in control of both work and personal life.
              However my solution isn't reasonable for most folks.

              My suggestion, treat work and personal like classified systems. Have capture for the other system in both places but process and handle them separately with 2 weekly reviews.

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              • #8
                Two systems

                In my case, I have two discrete systems. My work system is in the company-sanctioned Outlook, and my personal system is a hybrid of paper & Evernote. I've done paper for both, but it's just so much easier to drag emails into Tasks in Outlook than set up a bunch of email-based folders and write the task on a paper list... It really depends on your average turnaround time and level of work, I think. My work is predominantly administrative (at the day job) so quick turnaround and drag-and-drop work for me.

                My personal is another story, and has a number of different components that I won't go into here. I'm currently experimenting with a combination of paper/digital. I typically go back-and-forth between all paper, all digital, and a combination thereof. And I'm OK with that. If I'm in a particularly tactile frame of mind, there's nothing like paper. If I want portability and quick review, I go digital.

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                • #9
                  Without getting into a lot of down-stream issues, the ones that I faced on this very question boil down to 2 key issues.

                  1. Will your employer allow you to wire or wirelessly sync your smart phone into his computer system on which you have your work Outlook account? (I have just made a lot of assumptions, one of which is that you work for someone else and that you use a similar setup that I do, namely smart phone and Outlook.)

                  2. Are you willing to live with your employer's likely requirements that Outlook (and probably your smart phone) are subject to inspection or even confiscation at any time if he wants to exercise full control over his data that resides in the same places as your personal data?

                  In my case, the answer to both questions is a resounding "no," so I keep my systems as separate as I can. My work day is pretty much during the day on weekdays, so my smart phone calendar has very little on it for those hours. About the only time that I have to show duplicate appointments is when I have to leave work for a personal appointment (e.g.,doctor's visit). I need to show that on my work calendar so that I (and anyone looking at my work calendar) know that I have to be out of the office.

                  The only other "work thing" that I can think of that is on my smart phone is an encrypted set of passwords to my various work accounts (along with all of my personal ones) in an Android app.

                  In spite of all of this "separateness," there is almost no duplication. I always cite the old saying: "A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two is never sure." So, each data record resides in only one place (that is backed up somewhere, via sync'ing or otherwise), but the whole set of data happens to reside in 2 places, namely work and personal devices.

                  I hope this helps.

                  Joe

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                  • #10
                    I have two separate systems on my home and work laptops. The only common thing that ties it altogether is my NA lists which are on my iPhone, and have both work and home in the same list system.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DavidH View Post
                      I agree the task lists aren't as sensitive. My main concern is that I have lots of digital project reference material and email which are often linked to tasks. I use Outlook and OneNote currently which makes linking and cross-referencing fairly painless. How do you handle your reference material? Does your web-based system allow you to link next actions with supporting documents?
                      I use my brain to connect the dots that my system remembers for me. In my opinion it's not necessary to take the effort to "link" actions and projects within the system. It adds overhead and isn't nearly as fast as my brain. I also find value in having my brain connect the dots during reviews because it refreshes my thinking about my commitments.

                      A system with the ability to link actions and projects and reference materials together is far more cool than it is useful. The best GTD system is the simplest one. If you're set on having linking ability within your system then you're stuck maintaining two systems. If you're ok with just managing reminders of your outcomes and actions then you can consolidate your reminders into one system (preferred).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I pretty much have two distinct systems, although "system" may be a strong word for my work environment. In my main personal system (Google Tasks and calendar, and Evernote), I have a single context "Work", which is almost empty. I only use it for things I need to do at work that are not part of my normal responsibilities.

                        For work, I'm either working, or not. As a developer, I need my desktop and network access to do anything, so I'm either at my desk, or logged in remotely via VPN. I have a list of projects with actions managed in Onenote, and Outlook\Exchange for contacts and appointments. Project documents are stored on a network drive, accessible from where ever I work. I do sync my Outlook appointments to a separate, dedicated, Google Calendar that I include in my own personal calendar, to I get a complete view of my schedule.

                        It is simple to separate for me, as I'm generally doing work assigned and prioritized by someone else. Anything not in my assigned pipeline is personal, and goes in my system.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I, too, have two...

                          I work with confidential patient data constantly in my job as a statistical analyst in healthcare research, so my work systems are very tightly controlled. I cannot synch outside devices or programs with my work Lotus Notes GTD system, nor can I keep work email, documents or data in "the cloud". Since my only access to my work system outside of the office is through a laptop VPN connection, it is not practical to have my home system and my work system together.

                          At home, I have my GTD system running on Lotus notes for work, and I use Toodledo+ Google calendar for my home GTD system with access from laptop, Android Phone, and Nexus 7.

                          If I need to get input from one system to another (reminders of a phone call I need make during business hours, for example), I just email a reminder to the other system. In addition, as part of my weekly review, I "manually synch" my Lotus Notes and Google calendars by adding work appointments to my "At Work" Google calendar. That way, I have my upcoming work calendar on my phone during meetings. It would be nicer to be able to synch the calendar automatically, but it only takes a few minutes each week.

                          ~M

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                          • #14
                            Let me summarize.

                            Originally posted by DavidH View Post
                            How have you all dealt with this issue in your GTD systems?
                            Let me summarize:

                            If you are freelancer/farmer/business owner you can easily merge personal and work related information into one GTD system because the whole infrastructure and data is yours.

                            If you are employee the IT infrastructure and data is your employer's property. Due to legal and security reasons (both your and your employer's security) it is better to keep separate work and personal GTD systems.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              As most have commented, I also have two separate systems and it works very well for me. I will say though that having to separate my work and personal items means that the weekly review has become VERY important to me so that I don't lose sight of anything. I see my work stuff all the time since I work fulltime so it can be VERY easy for me to lose sight of the personal items if I'm not good about my weekly reviews.

                              Hope this helps!

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