There is a common misconception among many in the analog planner user community that states “it’s not possible to use one notebook to manage both your personal and professional pursuits.”
I wrote about this once before in another post, but today I’ll explain how I use one notebook to manage both and why you don’t need to, except in some very isolated circumstances.
Why the Misconceptions Exist
On some of the online communities dedicated to other analog planning systems that I frequent, I’ve read statements that relay the concern of some users about mixing business and personal pursuits in one notebook.
Some are concerned that if they combined their personal and professional notebooks into one, they’ll run the risk of revealing proprietary or confidential information.
Others are concerned that if they lose their notebook, the sensitive information contained in the notebook could fall into the wrong hands and confidential information could be compromised.
While they raise important issues related to the security of confidential information, I think this is overstated for most of us.
I’ve worked in medicine, education, and within both public and private companies, and I’ve never had an issue with compromising confidential information when it has come to combining the use of management tools into a single notebook, like Zen-Journal, to manage my professional and personal pursuits.
Complying with employer policies regarding the treatment of confidential information was never an issue. Unless my employer specifically prohibited the use of a personal notebook (something I never experienced), I was free to conduct my role in any way that simultaneously safeguarded private information.
Furthermore, I’ve known colleagues who’ve had laptops, cell phones, and iPads stolen from airports, hotels, and vehicles while on business trips. I am unaware of any incident that resulted from these losses that impacted company business in any way.
Unless you work for a government entity that deals with national security, I can’t think of a situation whereby managing your personal and professional life within a common notebook would present a conflict of interest.
The Solution to the Problem is to use Zen-Journal as it is intended—as a Life and Task Management System—and not as an Employer Database
If you use your notebook, whether it’s a Zen-Journal or some other system’s notebook, as it was designed, you shouldn’t have an issue with revealing proprietary or confidential information. In Zen-Journal there isn’t a contact list, a traditional calendar of appointments (like a monthly spread), or a series of specific collections that might pertain to confidential information.
How I Use My Zen-Journal for Both Business and Personal Life Management
The first principle that I think makes using a single Zen-Journal possible for me, despite working with confidential and proprietary information, is to recognize that Zen-Journal doesn’t have to be used for keeping this type of information. That’s why we have digital devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets that all are designed with inherent security protections.
The following are four examples of professional areas in which I’ve worked in my career and used only one notebook to plan my various pursuits.
Example 1 – College / University Setting
For about ten years, I held positions within colleges and universities that required me to review confidential student and staff information on a daily basis.
Most of this type of information was kept in campus information technology systems, i.e., computer databases for student grades, HR databases for staff performance reviews, and financial reporting systems.
I never had an experience whereby I needed to transcribe this information into my planner/Zen-Journal. There was always a university data system by which I kept official records, notes on student development and performance, as well as financial transactions.
My personal/professional notebook was always in my possession and traveled home with me at the end of the day and back to the campus the following morning.
The information in my Zen-Journal-style planner at the time contained notes from meetings and phone calls, ideas for later development, and journal entries concerning both professional and personal writing.
There was never a conflict.
Example 2 – Public Company Employer Setting
In my role as a Sr. Proposal Manager for an internationally known heavy civil construction company, I used my notebook to record notes from meetings and phone calls as most people do. When I was writing proposal drafts, I used a laptop that was usually in its docking station.
At the end of the day, the laptop and company iPhone traveled home with me, as did my notebook. I often worked from home in the evenings or on weekends or during early morning hours. Without my laptop, iPhone, and notebook handy, I couldn’t have performed my job as expected by my employer.
There came a time when I tired of lugging around two cell phones, one personal and one for business, so I gave up my company phone and used my personal iPhone for both professional and personal reasons. There was never an issue with this.
Even now, I work for another global company, this time a privately held firm, and I even use my own MacBook Pro, iPad, Zen-Journal, and iPhone for both company and personal business.
No one has an issue with this.
Example 3 – Physician and Surgeon
My first career was in medicine. As a resident physician in a teaching hospital, I had a lot of patients to care for. On the hospital wards, patient charts were located at the nursing station. Sometimes, the information that would later be filed in the chart, was dictated into a telephone recording system. I was also responsible for writing handwritten notes for each patient each time I visited the bedside, noted a change in lab results or diagnostic testing, and upon admission and discharge.
None of that information ever needed to be in my notebook. However, notes from Grand Rounds presentations, lectures, and other entries were routinely recorded into my notebook. There was no other way to collect and manage that information. Having access to this information during down times was essential to my development as a clinician.
These days, residents routinely use iPads and other digital devices that are networked into the hospital medical records and diagnostic databases. They are also used to play Angry Birds on occasion. 🙄
I never experienced a conflict in this area.
Example 4 – Private Consulting for Large Corporations
I use my Zen-Journal for everything and for about five years, I worked as a consultant to large construction companies helping them manage their technical proposal processes. I also continued to write books and, as you know, this blog about mindful living and planning with Zen-Journal.
Everything that I did during those years had their origins in my notebook. I used it for personal pursuits as well as professional.
It worked out just fine having one notebook.
I hope that this brief glimpse into how I use my Zen-Journal for both personal and professional pursuits helps you to reevaluate a combined approach.
As always, I appreciate your well-reasoned feedback.