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Separating Home and Work?

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  • Separating Home and Work?

    Apologies in advance if this has already been discussed, but my search didn't turn up anything: I've recently noticed a huge disconnect between my system at work versus at home. At work, I'm clicking along pretty well, but no amount of discipline is actually making me conduct a weekly review at home, or move forward on personal projects. I've tried everything - scheduling it on my calendar, doing it over a couple of days (30 min here and there), but I cannot make myself do it. My Palm never comes out at home to actually look at what's listed @Home, unless I need a phone number. Even though these projects are personal, it's still bugging me that they're not getting done. I have tried bringing home materials into work and just doing one review, but that causes another slew of problems (not in the right place to do the appropriate filing or perform the two-minute actions, my boss doesn't really like me handling too much personal stuff in the office, etc.) Doing it at home just feels too much, like, well, work. How have you all handled this? Am I just being a slacker when it comes to my personal life? Sorry for the rambling and the length of this post. Thanks in advance for input.

  • #2
    Re: Separating Home and Work?

    I'm not sure this will help, but I'll share what I do at home because it's been pretty successful. Sorry it's so long, but I don't know which parts of what I do might give you an idea of what you could do.

    First of all I don't use a PDA. I use paper at home and at work as well even though I'm a software engineer. So there might be some things I do differently because of the paper aspect.

    One problem with home is that many of the tasks are recurrent, so writing them down can be tedious, however they are not necessarily mandatory, so using a calendar to list them can undermine the calendar. I managed this by setting up a tickler file at home. I have days 1-30, months 1-12 and also weeks 1-13 which repeat quarterly. I have tasks such as make kids' lunches, clean the kitchen, water plants, etc. written on large index cards which come out of the tickler file at the beginning of the day or the night before and are placed back in the tickler file at the appropriate day of the future, which would be tomorrow for daily tasks. I use the tickler files for the normal things as well, such as directions to events and invitations to kid birthday parties. Weeks 1-13 folders are used to manage repetitive housekeeping tasks that can be done at longer intervals. I find it helpful for managing tasks such as cleaning out the hall closet, getting rid of old clothes, etc. I just stack the cards on the counter and leaf through them when I'm in housekeeping mode, ideally once in the morning, once at night and on weekends. With this system I can put things off in a way that doesn't let them fall through the cracks. If I put off a quarterly task for too long, I put the card back in the file for the corresponding week of the next quarter. I can only do so much after all, and it's not that important if the hall closet goes to hell for example. I view the index cards as an addendum to my housework context list.

    This tickler file system is in a narrow file folder holder on a counter in the kitchen. I have my project files next to it in a separate holder. These contain things like bills to pay, pending internet purchases, etc.

    Another thing I did is have my home GTD lists completely separate from the ones at work. It took me 1/2 day to organize my work office. I am still working on the home situation. The major part of the work was done in about a week, about an hour at a time. I had an inbox that was so stuffed I had to cram things in sideways, plus piles of other stuff all over the place. Now almost everything is assimilated into the GTD system. I have a looseleaf notebook with all the lists--projects, someday/maybe and the context lists. My context lists are: phone calls, errands, housework, computer work, and paperwork. Bills are handled separately. I have a short list for things my husband has to do and a pending list.

    There is absolutely nothing about my job in my home system, and absolutely nothing about home at work, except the little notebook in my back pocket that I use to capture ideas. I have another inbox in my sewing room because I have a huge backlog of unfinished sewing/knitting/quilting projects with attendant paperwork, magazines, etc. My craft projects are listed in the same notebook as my home projects, but in a different section. The context lists for craft projects are somewhat different as well. They are specific to the nature of the craft and are in a different section of my main notebook.

    My kids have an inbox too, which I handle because they're little. My husband is a medical student so he exists in another universe. I pretty much run the whole show myself and even open his mail, which he doesn't mind. In fact I daresay he's grateful.

    Don't underestimate the magnitude of the housekeeping task. It's enormous especially for people such as myself who have complete responsibility. I have to take care of all the physical housekeeping, laundry, periodic home maintenance, social calendar, finances including all the bills and taxes, children's affairs including enrolling them for school, landscaping, car maintenance, vacations, etc. I hire out some of the work but it's still me who has to hire it out. I used to think it wasn't fair which made the problem even worse. Now I realize that it's just the way the cookie crumbles, and I'm married to someone who's going to be a fine doctor, which is wonderful. The only thing I don't do is cook, so we eat junk or eat out.

    The GTD system really delivers what it promises in managing all this. When I set it up in June or so, I had an enormous backlog of unfulfilled commitments. I've whittled it away substantially, but what's left is moving off the lists very slowly. For example I haven't sent in the papers to claim the dental insurance payments for a year. Part of the reason is that I leave things for the future when I can, and spend my limited free time in the present working on quilts or playing the flute or going out with my friends. But most of the important things are managed properly.

    Cris

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    • #3
      My home and my job are like two separate universes. At home I have dozens of recurring responsibilities, hundreds of open loops, and multiple job requirements. I have to hire people, pay them, make important decisions and take care of two children and a husband. The paperwork occupies the equivalent of many file cabinets.

      At work I come in at the beginning of the week, print out the open software errors assigned to me, and proceed to fix or reassign the one with the highest priority. Then I do the same with the next one. I have a project list handwritten on the top few lines of the first page of a steno pad. I have a next action list that occupies 3/4 page of a yellow pad. I only use half a drawer of my two-drawer file cabinet. I may as well be that barista at Starbucks with a few extra digits in my paycheck.

      The book was written for people whose life is the inverse of mine. I don't think I could have the same system at work and home even if I tried. I'll entertain the notion though--I've been known to be wrong before.

      Cris

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      • #4
        Thanks for the input. I think it is just emotional avoidance - I feel like I'm "working" at home, which is something I always swore I would never do. Also, and this seems mundane but there might be something to it, I walked into my home office over the weekend and realized that I hate it. I hate the furniture, the way we've got it set up, everything. I just don't like going in there.

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        • #5
          Mark Forster is a coach in Britain who has a newsletter and some useful info. He has a good article on procrastination called "I'LL JUST GET THE FILE OUT":

          http://www.markforster.net/index.php?view=23

          Scott

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          • #6
            I know...I feel a bit bad about wasting everyone's time, but it probably wouldn't have occurred to me until others said some things to jog my brain! I know have a new project: "Redecorate/Regorganize Home Office"!

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            • #7
              I know...I feel a bit bad about wasting everyone's time, but it probably wouldn't have occurred to me until others said some things to jog my brain! I know have a new project: "Redecorate/Regorganize Home Office"!

              Comment

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