I have also worked in an environment where personal electronic devices are prohibited and where access to personal email accounts is blocked. This is how I learned to cope.
If your situation allows, I would recommend something similar to what I described here, about using GTD at work and home. The answer discusses some RTM-specific workflows, but the general principles about using @work and @home contexts lists are universal and could easily be adapted to text files in Dropbox or Google docs. I mention these non-email-based tools because although many companies block personal email sites, they often allow access to RTM or Google Docs. You'll have to check your company's policies.
In the worst case, where these sites are blocked or you have no internet access, GTD can still work. For example, before I adopted RTM I also used a physical notebook at work, which I used to capture next actions and manage context lists. Given my electronic isolation, this paper-based system had two primary benefits:
- I could carry it with me into areas without internet access or where electronic devices were prohibited.
- It stayed at work so I had the freedom to make confidential or proprietary notes that would be inappropriate to take home, but that I could properly secure at work.
It major downside was that because the notebook stayed at work I couldn't keep my personal and work actions in a single system. However, I think the downside of having two systems can be mitigated with the proper workflow.
- Use a physical notebook to capture all actions with an
@work context. All next actions
@work go into a single context list (or more if I worked in multiple buildings or areas that restrict what you're able to work on).
- Use the same notebook for project notes and future actions. For each project, pick two blank facing pages and mark the location with a post-it flag. The left page captures future actions and the right associated notes (with spillover notes on following pages if necessary). Upon completing an action, do a quick review of the associated project to populate new next actions.
If I could take the notebook home, then I'd use it for personal tasks and context lists too (e.g. @home, errands)--just to have everything in once place. But if I couldn't, then I'd use an electronic system for all non-work activity and synchronize the lists:
- If I think of a personal task while at work, I'd add it to a list
- At the end of the day, before I left I'd email myself the aggregate list of any non-work tasks that occurred to you at work. This should be an action put on your
@work list every day.
- When I got home or otherwise had access to my email I'd process those items and put then in the right context (and vice versa for work tasks that occur to me while not in the office.)
It's a little more bookkeeping than having one system, but that's just the price to be paid for such a heavily sequestered working environment. Furthermore, the biggest downside of a having two places to capture actions is not having handy a list of simple personal tasks (like paying bills) that you might want to do while at work, but if there's no internet access or personal devices allowed then you probably wouldn't be able to do those tasks anyway. Everything personal is going to have to wait until you clock out, so there's little harm in having those actions in a separate system you can't access at work.