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Divide Work and Personal?

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  • Divide Work and Personal?

    I'm starting an exciting new job, for which my new organization skills deserve some credit. I'll likely have a phone/PDA for work and am trying to decide whether to combine my work and personal to-dos, calendars, etc.

    In people's experiences, what are the pros and cons of separating or not separating:
    work/personal cell phone
    work/personal PDA
    work/personal calendar
    work/personal total organization system

    I currently have a strong GTD system for my personal life, but not much set up for work as I've been on a 9-month temporary retirement. Any and all advice would be appreciated.

  • #2
    I would definitely advise keeping a consolidated calendar if at all possible. Otherwise there's just too much potential for conflict between business commitments and personal commitments.

    If you'll get fired for making personal calls on your company cell phone, then obviously you need a second cell phone for personal use. On the other hand, if 90% of your cell phone calls are from your spouse, it might make sense to use the same phone for the occasional business call.

    For the rest, I would advise keeping everything in one system and using categories and/or contexts to distinguish between business and personal. That way all the information is there if you need it and you don't have to worry about synchronizing between the two. The exception would be information that you want to keep separate for personal privacy or corporate security reasons: don't bring the Social Security database home on your laptop, and don't put details of your doctor's appointments in the corporate calendar.



    • #3
      I agree with Katherine. The best approach is holistic (incorporating all the areas of life) and complete (covering all the details) ... or as close to this as possible. If you have two calendars, or project lists, or whatever, then it seems to me you are trying to separate things that your brain doesn't really separate. Stuff is stuff, no matter where it comes from. Although you may have many different collection 'buckets' (digital, home inbox, work inbox, etc) the stuff in those buckets should really end up on the same lists and calendar, ideally.

      In the Fast CDs, DA says something like, "You'll remember you need bread in a meeting at work. And you'll think of a great idea for a work project while you're out getting bread." Probably not verbatim, but the gist of the statement is that your life isn't as cleanly divided you might wish it to be. That's reason enough for me to keep it all in one place. The simpler and easier it is, the more likely I am to stick with it.


      • #4
        I keep my work and personal systems separate.

        The key lies in understanding that I can use my personal inboxes while at work, and vice versa. So, if I realize I need bread while I'm at work, I'll write it down in the Moleskine I take with me everywhere, which I process into my personal system at the end of the day. Similarly, if I'm at home and think of something to do at work, I'll send an e-mail to myself at work.

        By keeping them separate, I can focus more effectively on each context. I already have 28 projects at home and about 20 at work; keeping them separate decreases my cognitive load.

        The main obstacle to maintaining both, for me, is the tickler. Maintaining one tickler for both home and office strikes me as awkward to maintain.

        On the other hand, I've been forced to keep my systems separate because of work security restrictions; I've never tried combining them.


        • #5
          With my NA@phone context (which is on an index card) I often use a highlighter to emphasize a call or connect some calls together. Depending on what system you use, you could simply * or highlight business calls, and know that all the others are personal. No reason to separate those.