How to manage corporate outlook calendar and personal calendar

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by rodxmas, May 14, 2018.

  1. Mila

    Mila Registered

    Jun 12, 2018
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    Productivity Freak
    Sofia, Bulgaria
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    First of all, full disclosure, the tool is Flow-e and I am a part of the team. But my intention is not promotional, but rather to understand what exactly the business and people are missing from a good GTD tool.

    We get a lot a feedback, but most people are following the GTD method but adjusted to their understanding of GTD and it is super confusing.

    For example, I use the principles of Personal Kanban and GTD. And it works flawless ( I manage 10 emails, 5 of them are every-day-active).

    Unfortunately, the tool currently doesn't offer a unified view as in your case (because ppl want it, but we don't know how crucial it is for a good GTD tool).

    For example, I have 2-3 different workflows, depending on the email and what I use it about. I can show some, of course, if anyone is interested.

    For me, a good GTD tool should be a centralized hub for email, standalone tasks, and calender+meeting/events. I am kinda Agile/Lean productivity freak.

    p.s thanks, that's my hobby and probably another area of passion:)) What a surprise to meet another supplements-lover. I always say that if a SWAT squat broke into my house by accident, they would arrest me for the possession of too many supplements and powders (of course, all of them legitimate). We can chat about supps too. :)

    - Mila
  2. AFG

    AFG Registered

    Sep 12, 2018
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    @rodxmas (and all interested):

    Indeed! Managing work/personal separation is IMHO a really important issue, not well supported by tools. Not just for calendar, but also email, and indeed lots of files.

    ---+ BRIEF - What I would appreciate advice on

    Below I describe what I do now to separate work from personal stuff.

    I wish there was a better way. E.g. using labels or tags, rather than replicating the directory tree (for GTD and all else) for work versus personal.

    I welcome people telling me about their better way.

    ---+ BRIEF - What I do (not ideal)

    I prefer to use personally owned, BYOD devices - iPhone and PC. I dislike carrying two of each type of device - both a work laptop and a personal laptop, both a work phone and a personal phone. So I like to be able to access certain company data, mainly my calendar, a=on my personal device(s).

    But if you have company data on your BYOD device, the company has a legitimate reason to ask for certain access rights, like remote wipe if device lost or stolen, or if you leave the company. The problem is that modern OSes do not support fine grain security.

    ---++ Calendar

    Work uses Outlook/Exchange calendar. Personal - my family - I use Google calendar.

    I "merge" my calendars by attaching my personal iPhone calendar app to both Exchange and Google calendar servers.

    Unfortunately, this means that time blocked out on my personal Google calendar is not necessarily blocked out on my work Exchange calendar. For stuff outside normal working hours that's usually okay. If I have a doctor appointment during the workday, I copy, or at least block out. E.g. I may say "Dr" on my work Exchange calendar, but give full name and details on my personal Google calendar.

    Unfortunately, this means that company IT has certain admin rights on my phone (because iPhone connects using ActiveSync). Now, I am totally fine on company IT being able to enforce certain minimum settings of password length, and being able to remotely erase my phone if lost or stolen. I am NOT fine on company IT being able to monitor everything I do on my iPhone. While IT assures me that they are not doing that, I do not know how to verify if that is true. I wish that the permissions framework (on iPhone, Android, Linux, Windows) made it easy to see exactly what rights company IT has

    Because I can't be certain that company IT is not monitoring my device, I would never put anything truly sensitive in my iPhone calendar. E.g. I would not create a calendar item for a job interview with another company.

    ---++ Email

    Many email programs allow you to overlay several different accounts, e.g. to have a combined Inbox.

    Actually, I prefer not to use combined Inboxes. Once, by accident, I responded to a public mailing list thinking it was company intranet. Nothing bad, but it shows that accidents can happen.

    Therefore, on my iPhone I use different email apps. Personal mail using the iPhone, company email using Microsoft's for iPhone. Similarly on my PC, Gmail vs Outlook for company email.

    Same issue about company IT being able to see all of your personal stuff.

    If you really have a lot of such should-not-be-seen-by-company-IT stuff, you should have a separate email account, and only ever access it on a machine that you do not ever give company admin access to. I.e. not ever on a machine that you run something like Cisco VPN, or ActiveSync to access an Exchange server. Both email and calendar.

    ---++ Personal Files

    Proprietary company info goes into company cloud file storage.

    Public info - like, an academic paper published by a university - into personal cloud file storage.

    Cloud storage so that, e.g. if company IT decides to remote wipe your machine, you have a greater chance of retaining personal data.

    Of course, company IT may have monitored all of your traffic, and may proceed to erase all of your personal cloud storage...

    ---++ GTD stuff

    Obviously, project support info - like company proprietary technology, like shopping for a mental health professional, or your taxes - should be strongly separated.

    I think that it might be okay to merge work and personal next action lists for GTD. Maybe. So long as the actual description of the actions is not sensitive.

    It is a hassle to have to separate work and personal. I wish that SW had better support.


    ---++ Anecdotal examples of work/personal separation

    I have personal experience: a while back I changed jobs from Intel to their biggest competitor AMD. Of course I did not put that on my calendar. Further, I was so paranoid about getting sucked into a lawsuit that I over-deleted, deleting a lot of my personal files from undergrad and grad school, and much of my personal email from the good old days before Exchange. I still regret deleting that stuff. MORAL: keep work and personal stuff separate, so that it is easy to separate when you have to.

    (TECH OPINION: separate filesystems/directory tree good. Might be even better to have personal and company proprietary data encrypted with different keys, so that in case data is accidentally intermixed, it can be rendered inaccessible by losing the key. Of course, then you have to ensure that the data is correctly tagged, encrypted with the appropriate key. DIFT (Dynamic Information Flow Tracking) can do that - propagate security labels around with the data. Most of us are not using such secure systems. I have worked on them. Can be a hassle, but also can actually be nice to use. Would be useful to protect your personal information from malware.)

    Counter-anecdote: a former boss of mine, at a reunion of a major project, gave a talk where he showed some email from those good old days. There was an audible hush in the room, since that boss had left the company many years earlier, and per company policy was not supposed to have carried any files with him. MORAL: powerful people often ignore the rules.

    Related Anecdote: at the time, my employer, Intel, had a 3 year email retention policy. Any email older than 3 years was supposed to be deleted. I am reasonably certain that if Intel had been able to retrieve some of my email that was deleted, it could have proven that it had "first to invent" priority on some patents that later cost it >100 million $ in lawsuits. But they did not file those patents, deleted the email, and then had to pay a university the penalty.

    ---++ BYOD

    I sympathize with Hillary Clinton on this - carrying around two devices is a hassle.

    ---++ Virtual Machines

    I worked on virtual machines at Intel.

    One of the things that I hoped to see, was "virtual BYOD":

    Separate guest environments for work and personal. Running on a trusted, certified (by secure boot) hypervisor. Company IT is given the ability to monitor/admin/delete everything in the company guest virtual machine, but has no access to the personal guest virtual machine.

    Unfortunately, I am aware of no such trusted, certified, hypervisor. Anybody want to build one?

    Lacking that, security conscious company IT should insist on running in the base virtual machimne layer, and thereby having access to all of the personal stuff.

    Company IT with poor security might allow the company guest virtual machine to run as a child of the user personal virtual machine.

    ---++ Linux

    Activesync, used to access Exchange servers, gives company IT certain admin rights on the devices you connect from. Minimal password security, remote wipe. Sometimes much more.

    Many "enterprise" VPNs also do this.

    Ironically, many Linux users connect to corporate IT using systems like IMAP that do not provide such remote admin privileges.
  3. AFG

    AFG Registered

    Sep 12, 2018
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    @JohnIsmyname: as mentioned elsewhere, I do not want to connect Outlook to more than one mailbox - reducing risk of accidentally forwarding mail outside company.

    But... could you not use an Outlook "Saved Search" to do this. Or perhaps saved searches cannot span multiple mailboxes.
  4. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

    Dec 29, 2017
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    Hello AFG; I am not aware of a way to do this in Outlook. The closest thing would be File > New Search Folder but this cannot span multiple mailboxes.

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