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Separate systems for Work and Rest of Life

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  • Separate systems for Work and Rest of Life

    I've been GtD'ing for a while now and I've tried different tools along the way and my current Total Life System is based on Lotus Notes / mNotes for synching and a Palm Life Drive. It carries everything, Action Context lists, Work email, Project List etc etc. The Notes calendar has a mix of personal and work NA's and the folders also have work / personal projects.

    Lately I've been thinking that I really, really, really, (yes 3 x reallys not a typo) want to have a very distinct hard edge between Work and Rest of Life to the point where the Palm could sit in my work bag both after hours and from Friday night until Monday morning.

    I dont carry the Palm with me on the weekend, its too bulky, so I rely on a mobile phone and a DavidCo NoteTaker wallet as my ubiquitous capture device and printed lists.

    I am looking at a separate low tech paper system for Rest of life just as another way of reinforcing that I am doing "stuff" for ---> ~* ME *~ <----

    Some of the practical considerations I have gone through are
    Separating context lists into the two separate systems, pretty easy
    since they are already organized into Contexts
    Errands / Out and about - already contain a mix of work / rol.

    I will probably trial it and see how it feels, I am sure there are other things going to pop up that I havent thought. Worst case is that I go back to the current way of working.

    I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has two separate systems running, or who has tips or suggestions about managing Work and Rest of life within one system.

  • #2
    There was a similar thread a couple of weeks ago. You may want to search it up.

    DA recommends a single system, but I personally use two. I think it is a very natural way to do it if you have a clear division between your personal/professional life. Not everyone has such a clear division.

    I keep my work lists on my work PC and my personal lists on my Palm. Work reference files at work and personal reference files at home.

    I think that having two separate systems is sort of like taking the context idea in GTD a little farther.

    The only thing that requires some thought is the calendar issue. It can be confusing to maintain multiple calendars so I use my palm calendar for everything.

    Comment


    • #3
      I try to keep mine separate. Areas that tend to overlap or crossover are:
      @ Phone - right now I have six personal calls on my work @Phone list because they can only be done during work hours. I've been doing one every couple of days. Maybe i need to take my lunch hour and a conference room and knock them out.
      @ Errand - Most of my errands get done either on my way home or at lunchtime. I need to keep my errand information with my work GTD or they won't get looked at until I get home which is too late.

      Then I just need to capture items that are for work that I identify when I'm home and vice versa and have a way to shift them into the inbox of the other side. An example of a failure to do that, I have in my work system an @Agenda item for my daughter. It's been on my list all week. I just realized as I looked at it for the fifth day, that it needs to be in my home system. Duh.

      Oh, the calendar. My work calendar is in Outlook, and I put all personal items on it as well. I carry a Blackberry, so I almost always have access to my calendar. Personal or business items that impact other family members also go on a wall calendar at home. So if I have a business trip or dinner that intrudes into family time, it goes on the family calendar and Outlook. If I have a business lunch or a doctor's appointment during the day, it goes in Outlook only. If I've scheduled a doctor's appoint for someone else, or my daughter has a field trip or concert, it goes on both calendars. There are not that many items that need to go on both calendars so it's relatively easy to keep them in synch.

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      • #4
        I have found that everything (NA's, project list, checklists, wf's, sdmb's) can be kept separate except the calendar. There is only one time, in this dimension anyway.

        I guess the ultimate life goal is to merge the 40,000+ ft work and personal goals??

        Originally posted by w_i_t_n_a View Post
        I am looking at a separate low tech paper system for Rest of life just as another way of reinforcing that I am doing "stuff" for ---> ~* ME *~ <----
        Rest of life stuff also sometimes involves doing stuff for others, but I know what you mean.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by w_i_t_n_a View Post
          Lately I've been thinking that I really, really, really, (yes 3 x reallys not a typo) want to have a very distinct hard edge between Work and Rest of Life to the point where the Palm could sit in my work bag both after hours and from Friday night until Monday morning.
          IMHO, it sounds to me like your system's not really the issue: you don't want to be reminded of work in any way during non-work hours. I don't want to speculate on why that may be, but I think you owe it to yourself to make sure you understand what your feelings imply, and act consciously on that understanding. Perhaps you have done that, and you have decided to focus on your palm as a symbol?

          Comment


          • #6
            I tried it for awhile with separate systems for Life/Job and for my wife's business for which I do bookkeeping and take care of a lot of back office stuff. At first it made sense, but after awhile, I found myself not being able to deal with 2 separate systems of triggers and a lot of stuff started falling through the cracks.

            I know there's a lot of US cultural stuff about keeping work and life separate, but over time I've decided that trying to maintain that separation introduced complexity and reduced my ability to get things done.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for the thoughtful replies.
              McO - you are right the system is not the issue. GtD works fine for me and the tech combo does the job nicely. And you are right about not wanting to be reminded of work, the key being unless I choose to want to do some work at home. If I do then everything I need is in the Palm. Its simply that I want to be able to switch off and concentrate on the other things in my life when I leave the office and if my ROL system has no Work stuff in it and is more portable and also different from the Palm it will help,

              Tree - Its is the work with and for others that I am doing out of work that I want to 'turn up' for without work distractions. I'd agree with joining work and life goals if work was meaningful and useful rather than a financial means to an end which my current job is.

              Web - Yep I thought about the same issue with @Calls and @Errands or @OutnAbout as mine is called I am happy for work and ROL stuff cohabitate on these lists. As for the Calendar I am goign to run two and see how it goes for a month or so. If it gets too awkward Ill merge them into one and print a weekend calendar befoe I leave work n friday for a low tech week end solution. If a personal NA has to be done during the day at work I will simply drop it on the Palm when Im doing my Home based Weekly review.

              Barry - Im glad to hear it works! I think the work/rest of life divison is a choice thing and its the right choice for me right now. Ill search for the other thread Ive been off the board for a while and didnt search before I launched this thread.

              As I said at the start thanks for your thoughtful responses. I'll update this thread as I go with 'status' reports. The low tech paper based systemn I am playing with is from the US http://www.weekdate.com it looks funky!! which is always a bonus as I am drawn to using stuff that is functional and quirky

              Comment


              • #8
                I've heard the "one system for work and home" thing touted a lot. But almost inevitably, the person doing the touting is self-employed (D.A. being no exception).

                If you are self-employed, frequently on call, or otherwise have very permeable boundaries between "at work" and "not at work", then I think a single system makes more sense.

                Me, with my desk job where the permeability is more limited, I find that having separate systems to be better. I might check the work lists at home or the home lists at work, but I need to be able to focus exclusively on one or the other most of the time.


                Edited To Add-- thanks for pointing out the weekdate site-- It looks interesting. I'll need to look at it more closely later when I'm not, um, permeating work/not work boundaries to do so. OK, I'm getting back to work now
                Last edited by LJM; 06-08-2007, 11:42 AM.

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                • #9
                  Thanks LJM you are right and I guess there is a part of me that would be open to having an all in one system if I was working for myself as you have pointed out.

                  But I work for a large corporation and I need to recharge each week and having the two systems for Work and ROL should help me disconnect! I already give 50+ hours so I figure balancing is in order

                  As the other people who have responded point out there are some issues running two systems but if I was to do a cost benefit analysis I think the extra time and effort will be worth it. I feel thats the beauty of GtD
                  you can play around, use the basic concpets but still end up with something that works for you.

                  Although I am reminded of one of my favourite sayings - " A man with one watch knows exactly what time it is. A man with two watches is never quite sure"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Try 4HWW.

                    Originally posted by w_i_t_n_a View Post
                    I already give 50+ hours so I figure balancing is in order
                    Read Tim Ferriss' "The 4-Hour Workweek" book (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/).
                    It may change your life.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by LJM View Post
                      I've heard the "one system for work and home" thing touted a lot. But almost inevitably, the person doing the touting is self-employed (D.A. being no exception).

                      If you are self-employed, frequently on call, or otherwise have very permeable boundaries between "at work" and "not at work", then I think a single system makes more sense.
                      I'm not self-employed, and my work/personal boundaries are fairly well-defined, yet I am a proponent of one system.

                      I do have separate lists for my projects (Projects-Work, Projects-Personal), but that's the only separation I maintain. There is surprisingly little overlap in the 'next action' lists; the lists with the most overlap are @Phone, @Agenda, and @Online. And let's be honest here, a lot of personal stuff happens during work hours anyway (ever try to get your car serviced in the evening?). For any 'next action' list where there is sufficient overlap to cause problems, I can annotate the next action by prefixing with [W] (for Work) or [P] (for Personal), or I can just create a separate context list.

                      The reality is that there is an awful lot of stuff that crosses the Work/Personal boundary (company picnics, dinner/drinks with colleagues, benefits enrollment, expense reimbursements, vacations & holidays, etc.), and maintaining two separate systems complicates the tracking of these items.

                      And seriously, adding a context is a lot easier than having to maintain two separate complete systems.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Two Systems update v1.1

                        Well my WeekDate arrived safely in Australia courtesy of US post, looks great BUT its bigger than the Palm Lifedrive it was to replace, its about the size of a large cheque (check) book..lol back to the drawing board!! My wife now has it and it fits nicely in her handbag

                        I found this "funky" little site http://www.diyplanner.com/templates/official/hpda
                        I'll have a closer look at the FREE templates some of which are GtD specific. Somehow having a system held together with a rubber band or bulldog clip that fits in your back pocket kind of appeals to me.

                        Thanks for the additional replies. The one calendar with separate lists looks like the way I am going to go. I updated my calendar on Friday and printed it off for the weekend. I made a few commitments that needed to go into Lotus Notes Calendar but I just wrote them on the paper calendar and processed them when I got to work this morning. (Before you ask it was a Public Holiday here yesterday - Queens birthday)

                        The context lists are already nicely split so for the time being System v1.1 will operate like this.
                        Friday afternoon last thing
                        #1 - Print updated calendar (it will be current because I WILL have done a weekly review)
                        #2 - Print @Calls @OutnAbout (my version of errands) and @Home context lists
                        I can print all these to A5 paper stock so I have 4 pieces of paper which fold and fit nicely into a pocket with plenty of blank space for "on the fly capture".
                        Monday First thing
                        Process the above into my one system at work.

                        Ill update this post as the journey continues........

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jknecht View Post
                          The reality is that there is an awful lot of stuff that crosses the Work/Personal boundary
                          True, which is why I will occationally check the work system at home and vice-versa-- if there is something very important and urgent that I need to get done cross-system, I'll actually put it in the "other" system so that I don't forget it.

                          Originally posted by jknecht View Post
                          maintaining two separate systems complicates the tracking of these items.

                          And seriously, adding a context is a lot easier than having to maintain two separate complete systems.
                          I suppose it depends on ones situation, and how complicated one's systems are to maintain.

                          The basic requirements of my work and non-work systems are very different, as are the situations where I would want to use them. The ideal system in each case is very different. Trying to force-fit one into the ideal system for the other, or trying to force-fit both into a "compromise" system fitted to neither, would negate any efficiency gained by having a single system.

                          Actually, I really haven't noticed any "complexity" in maintaining two systems, as they both flow naturally into the situations/contexts in which I use them.

                          As with everything else, YMMV

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                          • #14
                            #2 - Two Systems update v1.1

                            Pleased to report v1.1 is working just fine. I resisted them temptation to play with other systems and tinker and I have just been working with what I have got and keeping it simple.

                            The lists printed on A5 stock are very portable, still remind me of 'stuff' that I either had to do on the weekend which is calendared or the other 'stuff' on my context lists. The paper also gives me plenty of room to capture on the fly AND lets me leave the Palm Life Drive at home.

                            The lists go back to work with me on Monday and the one system gets updated.

                            So I guess from my original post I didnt actually end up with two separate systems after all but thats ok its all part of the GtD journey. Thanks to those who read and replied.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi-- Sorry to revive this older thread, but I just wanted to report my experience.

                              After reading this thread I realized that I had refined my GTD technique quite a bit since I had felt the need to separate my "home" and "work" systems-- and that those refinements may well have also solved the problems that caused me to separate the systems in the first place.

                              So, while I still think that whether or not to keep separate systems depends on one's own situation, I am no longer convinced that I fit that category. I've tried re-combining the systems (with two work-specific contexts: @Work and @Work--Low Energy; work and home share a @People context and @Waiting context.), and for the past couple of days it's worked very well-- I think I'm going to keep it this way for a while and see what happens.

                              So thanks everybody for the thoughts and discussion on the matter.

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