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  • Separating Personal and Work items in Outlook

    One topic that I don't feel is covered in the GTD and Outlook whitepaper is how to separate personal and work items in Outlook. Initially when I configured outlook I set up a category @Personal that I would use for personal items. So I was assigning multiple categories to some items. For example, an action to post new pictures on my personal website was a task marked as @Computer and @Personal. But as the number of actions grew and I had the tasks grouped by category the list became unmanageable because items were listed multiple times. It was very annoying during the weekly review.

    So, I have eliminated the @Personal category and for all personal actions I just check the "Private" checkbox on the Outlook task. Then in the Task view I have added the "Sensitivity" column which shows "Normal" for my work items or "Private" for my personal items. This allows me, during the work day, to do quick scans of my task list skipping the personal items.

    I know some people have said that they keep two independent systems but that seemed like too big of a headache for me and the way I currently have it implemented in Outlook really seems to be working for me.


    -Jeff

  • #2
    @home is not enough?

    The sense of the system, I agrre with you does not suggest to put the same note in more categories to avoid this multiple findings.

    I'm very new in the application of the system.
    Up to now I focused in the working activity as my bigger part of "headache" comes from there applyng all the system in outlook, in personal bloc notes ever with me, i used also an old time manager agenda that I recovered with the allen system.

    At home I stopped to read the email in copy I receive from the office - so I can manage the stuff there! - then I introduced in the folder of my thunderbird - I use it at home - @action, @waiting. At home my activity - unfortunately is less than outside so also the quantity of stuff is more manageable.

    Best regards from Italy

    PS: Did you read also 52 principles....?

    Comment


    • #3
      For me @Home is not enough because I have personal actions that are @calls, @computer, @internet, @errands, etc...

      No, I have not yet read the 52 principles book. I have been applying GTD for a few weeks now and I have seen a huge difference in my productivity and especially in my motivation.

      Comment


      • #4
        Not only!
        This evening i come back to my office and I saw my desk clean and organized while the one of my colleagues was full of papers!

        Yesterday a great impression also to my assistant because when she came in my office I opened my @agenda nad the task of her and I found all the list of the things i'd like to discuss with her!
        I don't know whick is your kind of activity but how do you do when you are outside the office. I'm thinking to all the list I entered in outlook. Do you print them?

        ...next friday my second weekly review!

        Ciao

        Claudio

        Comment


        • #5
          The only work vs. personal items I keep are separate lists for active projects & someday/maybes. I used to mark personal NA's private, but no longer do. It was just one extra thing to slow me down when entering new items and, for me, didn't provide any real benefit. I also don't have to sync any lists or calendars with a corporate server, which is one good reason for a private tag.

          For contexts like @calls & @internet where there may be significant overlap, I rely on intuition to make the right decision. Besides, sometimes a personal call can only be completed during normal business hours, so I want to see it. And I will often send out a work email, while on line at home.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by notmuch View Post
            I also don't have to sync any lists or calendars with a corporate server, which is one good reason for a private tag.
            What do you mean? Do you use only a personal laptop where do you have all your stuff?

            When you are errandings, or when you are working in some different places can you ever use the laptop?

            Do you have a paper support with you?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by clango View Post
              I don't know whick is your kind of activity but how do you do when you are outside the office. I'm thinking to all the list I entered in outlook. Do you print them?
              I am in the consulting group for a software company so I am traveling almost every week. I have a Blackberry 8700 that is synchronizes in real time with our corporate Outlook server so I have all my Email, Tasks, Calendar, Contacts, and Notes with me at all times and I can update them while on the road. The Blackberry also lets me filter my task list by category, so it is very practical.

              Ciao,

              -Jeff

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by clango View Post
                What do you mean? Do you use only a personal laptop where do you have all your stuff?

                When you are errandings, or when you are working in some different places can you ever use the laptop?

                Do you have a paper support with you?
                I keep everything on a company laptop and sync with a Palm. In a previous job, with a similar setup, I had to sync my Lotus Notes calender and I used the private flag to keep personal calender items off the company server.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I hear ya!

                  Jeff,
                  I understand completely. I have been using a Palm set up hooked up to my work machine until recently when my IT Dept. decided against the Palm. I have since been creating structure using Outlook 2003. I actually REALLY like the way that OUTLOOK can chop and organize my projects and actions. I have solved part of the problem by separating work and personal PROJECTS.. this helps in the weekly review and also is better at doing the monthly 10,000 - 20,000 ft. reviews I have been trying to implement. As for work/home life... I can see what you mean. Every time you glance over personal calls while at work you are wasting time and slowing down your system. I dont see a problem using your @Office/Work context for all of your various phone calls, etc. that you need to make from your office (especially if you are deskbound...) But you lose something if you are stuck in traffic with your mobile phone and miss the chance to possibly make a business call when you are in your car (assuming it would be on your office LIST)...

                  So I am suggesting being creative with your context lists in order to "point and shoot" with your actions in the heat of daily battle. I currently break up @Web, @Mac, and @Computer... This sounds terribly redundant, but it makes sense the way that I use my system. Also, separating your Work and Personal Project Lists.

                  I would appreciate some comments, disagreements, revisions, etc. with this.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Also....

                    FOOTNOTE: In order to handle the work/Personal Palm issue, I use Outlook to process and organize my daily actions/projects. I then print out what doesnt get done (usually less than one page) and manually add them later when i get to my home computer.. This adds some bumps to my system.. but I am still improving....

                    -erik

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      From another thread:

                      There was a related discussion here:

                      http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5820

                      I don't separate personal vs work-related NAs when they share a common context (category.) Whatever actions I can perform in a given context are the actions I choose from. It is usually fairly obvious which NAs in each category are personal in nature, and I will usually choose work related NAs during business hours and defer personal NAs until off hours. I am, however, fortunate enough to be able to take care of personal items whenever I need to, as well as work from home when the need arises (and I'm not otherwise engaged with my family.) That's when it pays to keep things in one category based on context - it's just a matter of viewing the same list with different priorities, taking into account whether I'm 'working' or not.

                      I understand the need for many people to leave work at work and get away from it all on their personal time, but GTD (along with a fairly supportive work environment) helps me stay on top of things to a degree that I don't feel the need to make that distinction. As others have said, I think it depends how you define your contexts, and how you prioritize NAs when you are in those contexts.

                      D.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by gtderik View Post
                        I currently break up @Web, @Mac, and @Computer... This sounds terribly redundant, but it makes sense the way that I use my system.
                        This is very similar to my categorizations. I travel almost every week so I am often in hotels, airport lounges, etc. So, the categories I have for tasks in Outlook are:
                        • @Blackberry (There are lots of tasks that I can do just with my Blackberry)
                        • @Calls (Could be seen as redundant with @Blackberry, but for me most calls need a fairly quiet environment where I could send a quick email or something while in a crowded noisy area)
                        • @Computer (For drafting presentations, building spreadsheets, etc. I only use a laptop so this category could be treated offline while on a flight for example)
                        • @Errands
                        • @Home
                        • @Internet (Doesn't necessarily need to be on my computer. This could be, and frequently is, an internet station in an airport lounge)
                        • @Intranet (When I have to be connected to the corporate network, either in one of our offices or on my laptop with VPN)
                        • @Office
                        • @Waiting For
                        • Checklists
                        • Projects
                        • Someday/Maybe
                        Last edited by Jeff Kelley; 01-11-2007, 01:04 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Basically my technique just adds this column in outlook and allows me to separate work from personal while doing a quick scan.
                          It doesn't take up much room on the screen and I feel it makes me more efficient. It does of course require me to check the "Private" checkbox for personal items, but that only takes a couple seconds. Everyone needs to find what works for them, this method for me is a nice fine tuning.

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                          • #14
                            Whatever works...

                            Jeff, Yes. I agree! GTD is subjective as anything else... Everyone needs to find ways to tweak their system so that its customized and easy for them... Back to your original comment about separating Personal and Business, what do you feel like is your solution to this? I am curious since I am in the same boat... More contexts? Less contexts? etc..

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                            • #15
                              I actually have three current project lists.
                              I am a project manager so I have one list of these major projects and add to the bottom other deliverables I have for my boss. This is a list that my boss and I can use when reviewing my projects. Example: Deliver xyz software into production 3/14.
                              I have a list of work-related projects that are GTD-type projects that I don't necessarily want to review with my boss. Example: Make sure none of my projects have critical dates that conflict with company freeze dates.
                              I have a list of personal-related projects. Example: Clean garage so that two cars can be parked in garage.
                              I find it useful to keep these separate both mentally and visually.

                              Also, most contexts between personal and work are separate. The one that has the most crossover is @Phone. This is because there are personal calls that can only be made during the day. If I had them on a separate personal list, I would not remember to look at it during the work day. However, if I had a lot of calls that were personal and could be made in the evening, I would create a separate list for these. I also combine my @Errands list even though I rarely have a work @Errand that is outside of the office building. This list tends to be short so I don't see a need to separate it.

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