I've always been an employed worker, working for the public or private sectors in construction. I don't have any experience running a business or being self-employed, so what I will discuss below reflects my full-time job experiences.
We all have ONE life: we experience the world around us all the time regardless of what we are doing: reviewing a spreadsheet at work or reading a book at home. All these experiences affect our lives no matter what. But we can identify our areas of focus: they are the multiple different facets of our lives. They are like the hats we use on our day to day: professional career, family, self-development, health, friends, finances, etc.
So, I've always thought that managing actions and projects of all these different facets should be together in one tool or system. If I'm doing the weekly review, I should be looking at them all at the same time, for example.
But recently I've identified that I needed to create some separation between my work and personal lives.
I noticed that I was not able to rest at the end of the workday or over the weekend. I was constantly feeling anxious about my work tasks, I had difficulty clarifying my stuff and I was feeling overwhelmed. While doing regular therapy/counselling for a year, I realized I needed to do focus on three things:
Daily planning: plan my day at work to have a more structured routine.
Cut off from work at the end of the day, creating a smoother transition from work to personal activities in the evenings.
Create a separation for my weekends: work-week shutdown.
Phase 1: Daily Review: Plan the Day!
I started with a regular Daily Review in the morning to plan the day. I have this as a recurring all day event on my calendar.
After some trial and error, I was happy using Cal Newport's Time Block Planner to help me do this planning. That does not mean I abandoned GTD: I added this tool to my GTD toolset. It helped me create a more structured routine for organizing my day, and since it is linked to blocks of time, I became more aware of my capacity to tackle my next action lists.
Phase 2: Shutdown Routine
Then, after a few weeks practicing Time Blocking regularly, I started to think about the end of the day routine. It's another daily review but focused on shutting down the day. I was inspired by Cal Newport's shutdown routine and that was a total game changer for me. This practice fuelled my time blocking, which in turn optimized the way I organize my tasks and projects.
I could actually have a restful evening at home with my partner, because I knew whatever I had to do at work was clarified and organized and ready for me when I got to work. But I still felt jittery over the weekends, and I wondered what was wrong: enter the weekly review!
Phase 3: Separate Weekly Reviews
Because I was enjoying this work versus personal mindset separation, I realized that I also needed a work shutdown routine at the end of the work week.
I usually schedule my weekly review on Sundays, but I was feeling this huge resistance to do it, mainly because I didn't want to look at my work projects on a Sunday morning! Then I would avoid it altogether, skipping even my personal review. A light bulb appeared in my mind last October: what if I do a work weekly review on Fridays?
Tah-dah! I tried it and it worked!
My journey towards a more balanced and productive work-life dynamic led me to think differently about my routines. Separating these 2 main areas of focus (personal x work) does not mean they are not integrated. I have thoughts or ideas about work when I'm doing the dishes, but I know I can capture them in my inbox for them to be sorted out when I'm at work. And vice-versa, I capture personal thoughts at work that I will process later. That's one of the core principles of GTD!
After practicing GTD for years, I've never had this ah-hah moment about the weekly review: why not have 2 separate reviews? It seems trivial now I that I think about it, but I guess I was stuck with a fixed mindset.
The three tweaks I mentioned brought me more clarity, making my evening more relaxed any workdays smoother, marking a significant shift in my mindset and productivity.
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By Noisy Deadlines
Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.