The Complicated Business of Personal Lives

The ubiquity of corporate organizational tools has led to our work and personal lives looking very similar. Is this a bad thing?

The Complicated Business of Personal Lives

A popular meme that dates back to the late Cretaceous (pre-2020), is: "Tired of looking At BAD SCREEN." Can't wait for good sight to return home.

In this instance, the 'bad screen' is the computer at work that one uses to do mundane tasks like filling out spreadsheets, scheduling meetings and responding to emails.

The personal computer is called the "good screen". It's where one can do fun things such as scheduling meet-ups with friends at bars or restaurants, filling out spreadsheets (for bachelorette parties logistics; potluck meals), and checking emails (about bachelorette parties logistics; about how no one signed up to bring a dish to the potluck).

The idea behind the meme is that work and life are often not very different. Our personal lives have been influenced by the corporate tools we use at our work. This is understandable because a corporation is not a family, no matter how enthusiastic H.R. Reps may argue that a corporation is not a family. However, a person's personal life can still be considered if they have goals to achieve, tasks to complete and gossip to share over coffee.

These tools are often used in both spheres because it is difficult for creatures who have just learned to walk on their own two feet in the grand scheme, of the history of the planet, to keep track of multiple organizational systems.

While all of this is understandable, it can feel unromantic and sterile, much like an email from your dentist's office on Valentine's Day. What point does professionalizing your personal life take away any spontaneity or spirit? What happens when a healthy organization goes too far? How can people who send an unwelcome Calendly link ruin relationships built on mutual respect and trust?

Scheduling fun

Kenzi Enright, a digital strategist at Milwaukee's 29-year-old, posted a photo to Twitter last December showing her father's weekly agenda for a bar meet-up. The topics included 'World Cup' and 'China & Russia'. There was still time for 'General Discussion. The post was viral and Ms. Enright explained on Twitter that her father calls these get-togethers "board meetings" and that he texts other 'board members beforehand to ask if any topics are available.

Laura Vanderkam (44), a time management specialist who lives outside Philadelphia, said that Mr. Enright’s planning "demonstrates a level social and emotional intelligence from which a lot more social group would benefit."

Ms. Vanderkam said that too often people don't make enough effort to plan their time. She said that there are many unsavory things at work. "But people are trying to achieve something, so they are more deliberate about how much time they spend at work."

It can be difficult to plan for your downtime after a long day of work. It may seem tempting to think that unstructured time can be used to deepen our relationships, recharge our batteries or just relax in the sun-dappled fields of languorous indulence. But Ms. Vanderkam says this is not usually the case.

She said, "What happens when people don’t treat their time with intent is that they feel it didn’t happen." You won't automatically choose the most relaxing or rejuvenating activity in a distracted world. You will do what is available to you.

This is how four hours of evening free can disappear like a dove in an illusion cage. But the cage is Twitter scrolling, and 'Below Deck Mediterranean reruns.

Ms. Vanderkam stated that this does not mean that one should plan for every minute of their free time. "There is a big difference between planning nothing and planning every ten minutes.

Social plans and weekend schedules don't have to be detailed, color-coded military operations. She suggested that you write down two to three things you want to do on Saturdays, and then think ahead about what you would like to share with other board members. This will ensure that you make the most out of your time.

The Myth of Spontaneity

Jayne Drost Johnson (39), started J.D.J. in 2018 as a contemporary art program that featured galleries in Garrison, N.Y., and TriBeCa. She wanted to be able to both grow her career and have more time with her child. "I thought, I don’t want to miss her growing-up because I’m always stuck at the gallery on Saturday.

Google Calendar. Ms. Johnson relied heavily on Google Calendar for her recalibration -- for herself, the galleries, and for her family. She stated that she tries to keep everything on her calendar. "Sometimes it's work-related projects and other times it's like today's the day for weeding the garden.

Ms. Johnson's schedule is jam-packed -- there are shipping deadlines and exhibitions, tennis reminders, meetings with friends, appointments with clients, dinners, and reminders -- so it is hard to imagine that she has a primary priority of having lots of free time. She argued that spontaneity is often impossible to achieve without planning.

Johnson stated, "I believe there's probably an misconception that the more you plan the better you will get from something." She said that some of her favourite days are those that she didn't plan. She's learned that these days are only fully appreciated when you have created the space and the things to enjoy them.

Jessica Stern, a New York University Langone Health clinical psychologist, stated that corporate tools can also be beneficial in interpersonal relationships. She recommends couples meet monthly to discuss administrative issues like finances and communication styles. She also suggests that couples plan sex.

"People often say that sex should be spontaneous. Dr. Stern stated this. If you and your partner don't have the time to get to know each other, it's sexy to say, "I want you to be my top priority."

When using work tools to communicate with friends and family, it is important to ensure that friends and loved one aren't repelled by them. Dr. Stern stated that you might be the type of person who organizes Google invites or Google Docs to plan a trip or karaoke nights. It might be appreciated by your friends, or it might make them feel overwhelmed.

Ms. Herrera started to share Google Calendar events with her husband. However, she only used a secondary Gmail account so the events wouldn't appear on her main calendar.

She said, "When I look at our date nights, I see my doctors appointments and our Roomba schedules, it takes away the fun." It puts all of it in the same category: chores.

Brains are bad offices

According to scientific consensus, our brain's working memories -- a short-term memory that allows us retain information while focusing on another task -- can only hold four items at a time. This means that your brain can only remember four things at once. If you don't think of another thing, it will take you two seconds to realize.

David Allen, a productivity expert who developed the Getting Things Done work/life management system used a more colourful term than 'lousy'. Your head is not meant to be used for planning, managing, reminding or prioritizing. All that you need to do is externalize it.

Even if you are a good steward of your time and keep a detailed Google Calendar, never miss an e-mail, and try to externalize all thoughts that cross your grey, wrinkley brain, the truth of the matter is that time is finite and you will fail at trying to do everything professionally and personally.

Mr. Allen stated, "You'll discover that you can do everything but not all," "So, you have to be comfortable with your choices about what you will do and not do.

That is to say, one must find peace with that, perhaps by making time in the calendar to reflect on the beauty and futility life.