Work vs Personal Systems

Jake K

I think one of the biggest reasons I'm having trouble adopting GTD is because I have to have two completely separate systems... one for work and one for personal stuff. I've tried to add my work outlook calendar to my personal google calendar and vice versa, but it seems that my organization has blocked this ability. I use the same program for my major lists - OneNote - but they are under separate accounts. I can't access my personal OneNote account from my work laptop because that is blocked as well, so I end up having to use my personal computer for personal GTD stuff and my work computer for my work GTD stuff. It's tough! Any tips/suggestions/work-arounds for me to try??

Dave Edwards

Jake -

You raise a good point. One system or two?

I have always preferred to have one system that incorporates the different buckets of my life. Right now that includes (a) Consulting (b) Teaching (c) Writing Projects and (d) Personal.

My lists and tasks are kept in Nirvana where I have tags for each of those areas. I keep all of my notes/project support in Evernote. I have one notebook for each of the above areas, but all within one account.

This approach has always allowed me to be nimble in my work and thinking. I’ve never been good at compartmentalizing. Even when I worked for someone else in a pretty normal 9-5 job, I would always have work related ideas when on personal time…and Vice versa. One system allows me to move quickly between these areas of responsibility.

The same applies to my calendar. One calendar, although I do color code events related to my different areas.

My approach may not work for you, or anyone else, but I wanted you to,see an alternative. Good luck.



I find that my business iPhone allows more flexible merging of the work and personal accounts. For example, the iPhone calendar can show multiple accounts at the same time. Only useful if you have the tools and if you’re comfortable with that.


On my work computer I don't have the rights to install software so I am not able to install the software of the list manager I use, which is Todoist. Instead I approach Todoist through the webbrowser. I have multiple webbrowsers installed and one of those I only use for Todoist and nothing else. I have pinned it to my taskbar (I'm on Windows) and can easily open it with win+3 and add stuff on the fly. This way I can still have all my tasks in one system.

I know that OneNote also can be approached through the webbrowser so perhaps that is a work-around for your situation.


Just have one system in the cloud somewhere, provided you can access that from work.

E.g. use your personal OneNote for everything. Just make sure that you don't put sensible data out there were you shouldn't. The same with calendar. Have one "real" calendar in the cloud and update that one manually with work stuff as needed. Thus your work Outlook just becomes another inbox.

Another solution would be a memory stick. Can you plug one in at work? If yes, just have a files based system on that stick. We had one poster years ago who did that. His system was just a bunch of Excel files and a Word document.

The best thing is the old thing. Go with a paper system. A DIY binder, a leather thing that subtly says "I am thy boss" and "I use a pen, peasant."

Jokes aside, printing out your lists and calendars is a very satisfying thing. You cross-off done NAs, you toss with verve, you print out fresh and new. Or you could go completely pen/paper.

Jake K

Thank you all for the suggestions!!! Unfortunately I have a deep aversion to OneNote online. The interface and having to open a totally separate tab for a different notebook makes me cringe. However I was able to merge my work with my personal calendar on phone, as well as access notebooks from both OneNote accounts on my phone. So that may be the ticket is to just get used to using my phone more, OR use a different program like todoist or Nirvana that you mentioned. For as much as I love writing things down and brainstorming with pencil and paper, I have tried to carry around a small notebook and pencil with me but can't seem to get that to stick. Having to carry that around everywhere is a pain to me when I have a phone that I carry everywhere and a laptop that I take everywhere while at work.


OneNote online isn't for me, totally. But I could merge my personal calendar and work schedules to do my homework for me and use a small notebook for writing and brainstorming. Maybe there's a point in using a different program: todoist, for example.

We're not allowed to access personal accounts from work laptops. OneNote Class Notebook is the best solution for me so far.
Any other personal calendar tools that can be synced on Android and PC?


I also struggle with this. As a Things 3 user, I just set up my iPad next to my work PC and manage my tasks from there. I rely on Mail to Things to send work emails from Outlook to my Things Inbox and then process and organize those tasks. I’ll do my weekly reviews on Things on my MacBook over the weekend and roll with the iPad during the week. It isn’t perfect but it’s the setup that I’ve managed to maintain most consistently.


Iam a self employed with a headstone workshop in Germany. I have one system. My projects are all in Omnifocus, placed in folders. For my day to day work I do this by contexts. works perfect. and I have all tasks in one place. my references sleep in Evernote. also tagged. this works like a charm. my Scansnap x500 does the rest. it scan directly to Evernote.


Learning and practicing, and then practicing more
Like many others I've usually relied on web-based systems. RememberTheMilk was my goto for many many years. Recently my wife's employer has started blocking access to gsuite to help reduce security issues (i.e. phishing attacks) and if that trend continues I could see web-based software being less usable.

If I have to, I'll use whatever tools my employer gives me to maintain my project list, but I much prefer a single list -- that way everything gets reviewed regularly. Otherwise I default to tending my work list and letting my personal list languish.

@Jake K how did you settle on OneNote as your system?


When I was working, I, too, had to keep my personal and work systems as separate as I could, for a number of reasons.

My work day was pretty much during day shift on weekdays, so my personal Android smart phone calendar had very little on it for those hours. About the only time that I wanted to show duplicate appointments was when I had to leave work for a personal appointment, e.g., a doctor's visit. I needed to show that on my Outlook work calendar so that I (and anyone looking at my work calendar) would know that I will be out of the office at that time.

The only other "work thing" that I can think of that was on my smart phone was an encrypted set of passwords to my various work accounts (along with all of my personal ones) in an Android app.

For backup purposes, I regularly synced my personal data in various apps on my Android phone with my personal PC laptop. My work information was backed up automatically by whatever IT processes that my employer had in place on the network.

In spite of all of this "separateness," there was almost no duplication of information. In situations like this, I always like to cite the old saying: "A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two is never sure." So, each data record resided in only one place (that was backed up somewhere, via sync'ing or otherwise), but the whole set of data happened to reside in 2 places, namely work and personal devices.

I hope this helps.