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I'd like to use GTD, but work in an office away from home. I rarely take work home with me, but sometimes, for example, bring bills to be paid to work with me. I would especially like to hear from people who are currently using GTD in both domains.

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GTD doesn't distinguish between work and home tasks. They are tasks and projects that need to be done. – Brian Carlton Jun 22 '11 at 20:37
up vote 18 down vote accepted

You have two basic choices:

  1. Use the same system for home and work (e.g. a paper-based system, a PDA/smart phone, online software) and treat @Home and @Work as different contexts. This seems to be the way David Allen and others recommend, because then you only have the one system to maintain.

  2. Use a different system for home and work. This is what I prefer, because when at home I don't want to think about work, and I don't think my boss would appreciate me spending time reviewing personal stuff at work. Then when you have to do a personal errand at work, just put it on the work list anyway - no big deal.

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I use #2. I use OneNote at work and Evernote for all my personal projects. I do GTD in both places with a slightly different model. I like not having to cross-pollinate the two sets. – Todd Williamson Jun 23 '11 at 2:31

David Allen says repeatedly - though not as a first thing - that there is no difference between Home and Work for GTD. It is all project, context and actions.

The main difference, I think, is that most of the time you may rely on your coworkers to do the tasks you delegated to them. That's in their contract and they are paid for it. With a spouse, you signed a completely different contract, so joint projects are more 'interesting' if only one practices GTD.

Regarding your specific example, I just put 'pay bills' as @Work, even though it is associated with a home project.

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Yeah. This just comes to a grinding halt when (not if) you do your weekly review and have to decide if you do it at the office or at home. At the office you have the paper work for your job and at home you have the paper work for your private life. I just don't see making copies of anything and everything to synchronize job and private GTD processes. – xmjx Sep 17 '11 at 8:44

Even if work and home tasks are separate, your GTD system needs to track both.

I struggled with the same issue and ultimately discovered that using GTD only at work--doesn't work. In order to realize the benefits of getting your to do list out of your mind and into a system, that system needs to capture everything. This means whatever single system you use to maintain your context lists (electronic, paper, etc.) it needs to contain all your next actions and projects in every facet of your life.

This admonition is totally consistent with a work/life balance that keeps work almost exclusively at the office but makes time for "home" tasks like paying bills at work.

I use Remember the Milk. I have locations set up for @work and @home (@ is RTM notion for a location), and most new tasks are associated with one of those locations. Additionally, I use tags for items that require the internet #@web and #@call (# is RTM notation for a tag). (Bit of an aside, but a task can only be assigned multiple tags, but only to one location.)

My context lists are really smart lists based on search queries. My work list pulls up all tasks not intentionally deferred to a future date that are assigned the @work location, or that are tagged @web or @call.

(list:inbox AND (dueBefore:Now OR due:never)) AND (location:@Home OR tag:@call OR tag:@web)

A similar query builds my @home context list.

If your bills are personal tasks that you are definitely going to do at work then tag them to show up on your @work list; you've made the decision to perform the action there, your context lists should reflect that decision. If it's something you could do at home or work and you don't care which, then use a tag that shows up in both your work and home context lists (e.g. my @web tag).

This enables you to use a single tool to track both personal and work tasks, but to keep them in separate lists so you're only presented with tasks that your in the right physical place to perform.

Lastly, ubiquitous capture enables you to add a work task to your system from home, and vice versa. The ability to capture a task whenever it occurs to you and assign it to the right context frees your mind to concentrate because it knows your system will remind you of the action when you're in a position to actually do something about it.

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I actually have a similar situation, it's rare that work and home overlap, but they do on occasion.

The context idea is one way to separate home from work. So, paying bills would be an online task (at least for me), I can do that at work or home.

What I have done is created two separate lists of projects and next-actions, one personnel, and one work. While this "shouldn't" be necessary using GTD in it's pure form, I have found it helpful to me. I have two lists to review each week, but they're actually half as big anyway.

I suggest trying both, and see what works best for you.

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I definitely prefer a unified system -- and not just because I usually work from home. I need to know what's urgent and what's low priority across the board, since sometimes personal activities will preempt work, and vice versa.

The "Things" program for Mac, iPhone and iPad syncs across multiple devices; there are online-only solutions as well (Basecamp, Google Docs, ...). A digital system or portable paper planning system is the way to go if you want to keep your system with you at all times (but don't forget backups!).

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A thing a see a lot lately in the GTD forums is people playing with contexts and taking them a bit further. The rationale behind it is that most of us spend 90% of our time in front of a computer, so having a @computer context can be way too vague (here is a great post on the issue, with some nice examples: ).

David Allen himself has very 'personal' contexts, like @Internet separated from @Internet/Surf (for things to investigate in a relaxed mood)... Other people creates 'contexts' like @Computer/personal and @Computer/work... (Such divisions can be done by tagging, as suggested above)

I think the best is starting with the usual lists and then tweak and tweak to see what works better for you and your lifestyle.

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At least for me, GTD is more of a way of thinking, rather than rules set in stone.

You can easily just do both separatedly, e.g. doing your weekly review for work and for home tasks at a different time.

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