Separating the personal and the professional



Although it appears to me that David Allen advocates a system combining the personal and the professional (work, for him, is anything that is not where it should be, or the way it should be), I have decided to attempt to "leave work at work" and manage my professional and personal lives separately. I won't go into detail on why I've chosen to do this, but I wonder if others have ever tried to implement GTD principles in this fashion.

The fact that I can even attempt this relies on the nature of my job. I am a Systems Administrator for a large state university who works 85% of the time at my desk and 15% of the time in a central server facility adjacent to my office. I am currently using Outlook and the GTD Outlook plugin and am very happy with that system. When it's time to go home, I shut down my computer and leave it all behind until the next work day - I carry nothing away with me. I know this is imposible for many others to even consider due to the nature of what they do, but it seems to helping me be more focused at work, and more relaxed at home.

I haven't yet decided on a system for managing personal "work". I have used Palm OS devices in the past, but it's my desire not to carry one any longer (another recent decision). I have always felt that pen and paper suited me more naturally than any high-tech method of capturing and organizing thoughts and actions, so I am leaning toward a paper-based approach. I would welcome any suggestions on a simple, effective paper-based method of managing my personal life.

I do wonder if anyone has tried or is currently applying GTD principles in a similar fashion (separating professional/personal) and would welcome any input on the topic.



GTD w/paper

Max, you might want to take a look at David's article on how to set up a a paper planner in the Gear Tips & Tools section on this site.

His system can be set up with a "home-made" planner but if you want it all pre-printed etc. --the best is Time Design it's the best paper system to use with GTD. David used to be connected with them in some way and if you check out their online training course on the site --you'll see a lot of GTD principles there : )

Hope that helps



Separating professional/personal

Disclaimer: I haven't tried this myself (other than separate project lists for a while).

Since you like paper, I'd suggest:
1. Go to tools & tips and print out the section on setting up a paper organizer.

2. Decide how to capture random thoughts that occur when you aren't at work (driving to the store on Saturday, at dinner with friends, whatever...). This could be your portable binder (see above), a small spiral notebook, or index cards. (Logistically, it probably shouldn't be your folders if you go that route.)

The real key challenge will be that compartmentalizing, while offering clear advantages to you, also denies the reality that work thoughts do occur at home, and vice versa. You've probably already realized this, but one thing you'll need to figure out is how to integrate personal actions that have to be done during work hours into your work system, since you would be managing them from your personal system (e.g., call the doctor's office for appointment; they're open only 9-5 M-F). Another is how best to capture work-related ideas when you're at home (and vice versa), and then how to get that info from where you thought of it to where you need it. Probably the simplest way is to carry your personal GTD system with you always (including at work), and leave the work system at work when you leave. You could include one section in your personal GTD system for "work ideas" or some such, so you could quickly capture those kinds of thoughts in a place you trust will be available to you at work, and get back to relaxing at home.

I'm not sure how much I've helped, but start in the tools & tips section and go from there.

Good luck!


Work and personal

I have in my day-timer "@CALL" for personal stuff and "@CALL-WORK" for work-related things. I too have mostly separated my work and personal tasks, but while GTD worked so well for me personally I could never find a similar system that worked just in the office. So I'm reversing a long-standing habit by blending the two realms in my d-t, though I do have them on separate pages. That way, I can bleep over my WORK pages during my personal weekly review.

I use a digital voice recorder to capture loose thoughts on anything, and transcribe it either during weekly review or when I have time. it's a great tool that requires no writing.


RE: Separating the personal and the professional

I separate work and personal primarily because I use a Palm and my workplace doesn't allow me to use it in conjunction with my work computer (can you believe that?!?!).

I have found that I actually prefer keeping work and personal separate; I see them as my 2 primary contexts, with @Calls, @computer, etc as subcontexts for each. This works well for me because the separation makes my NAs more manageable and easier to track & I don't do personal things at work. Any work items I think of at home I put into a @Work context and these items get input into my work N/As. If I have work items I want to review at home, I put them on my Palm as NAs and on my work list as @Home.

Anything done outside the office is on my Palm, including things I must pick up for work. For example, my Palm has 3 @Out subcategories which prefix every @Out NA--"H"=anything related to Home; "O"= Out (anything not requiring something from hme or work; "W"= anything related to Work. For example, if I need file folders for work, I would put: "O: buy file folders." Once purchased, if I was not on my way to work, I would add the NA: "W: take file folders to work." This works for me because I've gotten into the habit of looking at my @Out category whenever I to somewhere.