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Personal vs. Professional Systems

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  • Personal vs. Professional Systems

    I have been a long time GTD/David Allen follower and have had the methodology fully implemented with varying levels of focus/success over the past few years. I am refining my systems and working toward Black Belt and would appreciate the forum's insight on the following system:

    Does anyone use two separate sets of lists for their professional life vs. personal life? I am an attorney and work in the office four days per week. The other three days, I focus on growth, physical goals, business and spiritual pursuits. So far, I have been able to attain a great balance.

    I currently use one set of Professional GTD lists with client-related projects, goals for my firm, calls and emails, etc. When I am at home, I do not want to be constantly reviewing action items that pertain to my cases or my practice. So, I also use a set of Personal GTD lists with person goals, aspirations, calls, projects, etc. Keeping these two sets of lists distinct serves two purposes. First, it allows me to totally detach from work when I am not at work and second, it allows me to compartmentalize my life to attain the appropriate level of balance. The most important thing about this setup is that I have one ubiquitous capture system that is processed frequently to filter items onto the correct set of lists. In addition, the weekly review is the point where I manage the entire system as a whole so nothing falls between the cracks. This works well for me and I just wanted to know if anyone else uses anything similar and what your thoughts and ideas were on this topic.


  • #2
    I do the exact same thing. I've tried combining my lists, but it just never works for me.


    • #3
      I keep two sets of lists, but I keep them all in one system.

      In other words, I have a "Projects (Business)" list, and a separate "Projects (Personal)" list; and I carry both of them with me all the time. That way, if I really need to reference my "business" list while I'm at home (or more likely, if I need to take care of something personal while I'm at work), I can do it.


      • #4
        One System = Less Stress

        I keep mine in one system, as, if I'm at work and think of something for home (or vis-a-versa), I don't want to go hunting for my other system -- as that is a stress generator and stress is what we are trying to cut down on.

        Categories, as jknecht suggested, is the way to keep them separated and out of site during the right time.

        Also, GTD "context categories" (my term -- can't remember off the top of my head what the official jargon is) like @home vs. @office is a similar way and could help.

        All in all, I'm a firm believer of "one system."


        • #5
          One System for Me, too. Everything goes in it, whether Professional or Personal.


          • #6
            One system works for me and I keep my actions in perspective using the proper context (@office, @home, etc.). I like the organization of having all action lists in one system to refer to as needed.

            Bottom line - if it works for you, it works!


            • #7
              Do not implement your GTD system using your company's hardware/software.

              If you are an employee you shouldn't implement your GTD system using your company's hardware/software because it will be immediately destroyed when they fire you.


              • #8
                I keep two separate systems, one for home and one for work.

                :shrug: Works fairly well for me, though as I posted on the ReadyForAnything list, I recently realized the two need to blend more.


                • #9
                  Take a holistic view regardless of lists

                  The biggest 'a-ha' for me in implementing GTD and one of the biggest impacts it has had is me not trying to keep my personal and professional lives separate. So now I look at things holistically, making decisions about how I spend my time and energy armed with ALL the information I need. I manage my personal and professional commitments via my Next Action list contexts - @home, @office etc. The Weekly Review is the key for me in maintaining both the control I need and also the perspective. The latter is something that I previously paid scant regard to and I now realise that is just as important as being in control.



                  • #10
                    I'm a two list person. I discovered many years ago that for my sanity, I should not take work home unless I'm desperate.

                    If there is a work item to be done at home, I identify that specific item and it gets listed on the blackboard in the kitchen until it is done.

                    If there is a home item to be done at work e.g. a phone call in working hours, or to go shopping at lunch time, I put an NA into my work list just for that item (and very often send myself an e-mail as well).



                    • #11
                      I also have two electronic system but one collection mechanism (combo of 3x5 cards and Moleskine).

                      I have my work system on my IBM ThinkPad X61 Tablet PC and my personal system on my Mac Book Pro. I can process between both systems using one physical work space and move back forth either physically or virtually.

                      I do tend to keep my 30,000, 40,000, and 50,000 feet items integrated on my Tablet PC based MindMap but I can move those over to the Mac if need.

                      Interesting topic.



                      • #12
                        Sometimes you just have to keep separate systems.

                        I would love to keep one single system that contains all of my personal and professional commitments, but despite much brainstorming and concept testing I've concluded that it's just not possible.

                        I use Outlook both at home and at the office, but I cannot synchronize my personal PDA to my Outlook account at work. I can access my Outlook account from any company issued or walkup computer within my office, but not from my home computer. There's simply no way for me to synch the least not without violating company policy.

                        I have been able to successfully maintain two separate systems despite the overhead of having to do two separate (but smaller) weekly reviews. If you can avoid doing this, I would recommend doing so, but it is possible to make it work.

                        Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                        If you are an employee you shouldn't implement your GTD system using your company's hardware/software because it will be immediately destroyed when they fire you.
                        For this reason I only put information into my Outlook system at work that is solely related to my job and requires company resources to work on them. For example, my @Computer list represents things that I can only do on a company workstation. That way, if my job dies, my system at work can die peacefully with it and the rest of my system is intact.

                        If I think of something at work that belongs in my personal reminder system, I do not enter it into my work system. I will e-mail it to myself at home, record it in my personal Palm Notepad, or make a voice memo in my personal MP3 player. Later, when I'm processing my inboxes at home, I'll add these reminders into my system.


                        • #13
                          I'm a newbie and was glad to see this post. I have a zillion items on my work lists and a zillion on personal lists. I have an NA work and an NA personal list and together in review they are inputs to THE NA list. I have a someday/maybe work and someday/maybe personal and both are really long so am thinking I may need to do sub-categories on them.

                          Don't know if this will work long-term but can't see combining the two as just too many items. It seems easier to just make them separate lists.


                          • #14

                            I agree with a number of the other posts. I have had better success keeping everything on one system - but seperating Work Projects and Home Projects. So for example my contexts are Projects and Projects (Home). This has served me well for a number of years - but at the end of the day its what works best for you!



                            • #15
                              Single system - it's the contexts that keep things separate for me. I do group my projects as either business or personal to enhance the feeling of separation. Perhaps I can do this in part b/c my trusted system is on my notebook computer - I don't have the corporate restrictions some do.

                              - Jon