There’s a thought that everyone should have a clear “work/life balance” — one part of your life is work, one is personal, and never the two shall cross. While that may be necessary for some of us, for most I think it can be a nice blending of the two.
I see three areas where a blending can be good: Your schedule, your contacts, and your notes.
I read some about this in the great book Off Balance, but my business partner Ali exemplifies it best by following what she calls “scheduled variety” — intentionally letting work and personal schedules blend together a bit to get the best of both.
Rather than saying that “work is 9-5”, you might catch up on a few emails at 8, work may “start” at 9, then you have lunch with your spouse, work for three more hours, catch a 4:00 yoga class, and polish up a proposal before bed. Your company may or may not allow this, but it’s a great way to stay energized if you’re allowed to.
All of your contacts
For a while, I tried to keep a separate list of “personal” and “business” contacts. It’s easy enough to do, because most people have separate email accounts and contacts tend to go with those. However, I found that I was duplicating a lot of people on both lists, which made it harder to keep things accurate. Ultimately, I blended them into a single contacts list (that syncs to both accounts) and things are much easier.
Not only do I no longer have to figure out if someone is a “personal” or “business” contact, removing the duplicates made it much easier to keep their info accurate.
One set of notes
While all of us have official internal work notes for company-wide things like client info, we also tend to have our own work notes — ideas we have, short to-do lists, and many other things. I find that people often try to separate those away from their “personal” notes, but I again vote for blending them.
I follow a lot of productivity groups online, and often see questions about how best to split up personal and business notes. This could be using Evernote, Notion, Roam Research or anything; the tool doesn’t really matter. People try to split them up and find that it’s messy, but they’re often missing the bigger point — those notes should be in one bucket.
In my case, I keep my notes in Roam Research and they’re my notes — the personal me, the business me, the spiritual me, etc. Anything about me goes in one place. There are a couple of clear advantages:
- Less meta work. You don’t have to think about which area something is for, you can just put it in your notes and move on.
- With many systems (like Roam), you may find things tie together in interesting ways. One of my favorite examples relates to some notes I took about the book Essentialism; I heard some great tips for improving my life, while at a business event at my church. I have no idea which bucket it would go into if I had tried to split that out. As a consequence, I’ve been able to use ideas from that talk (and book) in all three aspects of my life.
Blending might not work for everyone, and a big part of that will depend on your company and your role. If you can, though, try to blend it all and reap the benefits.