Should I Be Keeping Personal Tasks In My Business’ Project Management Tool?

I’ve always tried to keep all of my task lists in the same place. The general idea, in my mind, is that the more spread out I get, the less likely I am to get anything done.

Recently, though, I’ve been seriously considering setting up a separate system for managing my personal productivity and my professional productivity. While this may seem to be heresy based on many of the productivity books I’ve read, it doesn’t seem that unusual. After all, if I had a job where I left the house every day, I’d be using my employer’s approach to project management to handle my professional work, and whatever made me happy for home.

Such an approach doesn’t seem to have killed anyone yet or anything like that.

My problem is growing out of my own professional situation. I routinely work with clients, as well as bring in people to help me with my projects. I use Basecamp to manage all my work and it just makes sense to give everyone working with me at least limited access.

But I’ve got my personal stuff in that same place. There are a couple of people who have blanket permission to access everything and I’ve just asked them to ignore my home to-do lists. Just the same, I feel a little creepy about living my life that way. I’m not exactly enthusiastic that a virtual assistant knows that I need to make an appointment with my doctor for toe fungus (I don’t actually have toe fungus, I promise — but you get the idea of how gross that could be for everyone involved).

As a professional, I don’t think I should be keeping my personal tasks in my business’ project management tool. There should be a wall. After all, if I allowed that sort of overlap for business expenses, the IRS would be giving me a pretty dramatic talking to. The right thing, at least in my case seems to be getting my personal task lists a new home.

I’m struggling with that point. I already know which pieces of software I like and all that — that isn’t a problem. The problem is creating a habit to check two different places for to-dos, preferably in a way that guarantees that I get stuff of both lists done. Since I already have a fairly habit-centric way of getting things done, I’m always reluctant to mess with it. There’s the added problem that I don’t actually set aside time in my day for handling tasks that are specifically personal. If a task is in my to-do list, I don’t worry about labels. I just try to get it done.

The way I handle my own productivity is a work in progress. I know from experience that I make a major tweak to the system every six months of so and, in a way, this is just the newest tweak. But for me, it’s more than that — it’s a big question that can impact the way I run my business and how I appear to the people I work with.

Image by Flickr user Perhaps too Pink

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4 Responses to “ Should I Be Keeping Personal Tasks In My Business’ Project Management Tool? ”

  1. Barry Harley says:

    Interesting problem. I too have the same issue. I run a small graphic design studio, plus I work full time for an architectural firm. After reading the book “How to Make Things Happen” I came up with my own Frankenstein system. For my design studio I use Basecamp and Things. Things keeps everything business and personal while Basecamp just has a duplicate of each projects to-dos etc. For the full time job I use Things. I do not sync my mobile devices with my full-time job. Not a perfect system but my situation is different.

  2. Deb Lee says:

    “The way I handle my own productivity is a work in progress.”

    A very true statement for most of us. What works for you today might not work for you next month. Circumstances change. You change.

    That said, I usually tell clients that they should separate their business paperwork from their personal stuff. It makes finding what you want easier and the lines don’t get blurred (general rule of thumb). It sounds like you’re doing the same with your projects…though it will mean having two places to check.

    To use your example, if not having your foot fungus open for all to see carries more weight than having to check to different places (or two different log ins, etc.), then it wins. Because it will work for you right now. Until something changes.

  3. Deborah Fike says:

    For me, I use an actual project management tool for professional tasks, and Google Calendar for personal ones. I find that I don’t get the personal stuff done as well if I don’t lock it down to a date and get reminded all the time, so Google Calendar works well for me on that point.

    It would be nice to create a private list in some of these larger tools, where you could keep everything all in one place. The ethics of using your business’s tool for personal use, though, is always a tricky subject.

  4. PM Hut says:


    I hope one day there will be a tool that encapsulates all the tools that a Project Manager uses on a daily basis. Until then, we are all forced to use multiple tools to manage our projects…

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