Separation


It’s funny: when you’re going through massive changes, it seems like a good time to make even more changes. In this case, I’m doing something I probably should have done a long time ago: separating my work life from my personal life.

As someone who works from home and is currently living in a single bedroom, there is no real separation between work and home. This has been the case on my mobile phone for as long as I’ve had one, since there really wasn’t much “personal” that didn’t somehow involve work. It just didn’t seem to make sense at the time.

That said, at least for the last few years, I did have a mobile phone service separate from work. However, I primarily had it to enable me to manage the prepaid plan for the family. I would be hard-pressed to remember the telephone number for it and, beyond some minimal testing I did with phones, it barely got any use.

Then I started going through a divorce. And I started dealing with a lawyer. My phone started representing a LOT more stress than it once did. I had already removed all the social media apps from my phone a year ago. It wasn’t enough to, say, mute all the notifications, which I largely did well before this. Definitely more was needed.

Given I was carrying a 4 year old iPhone where the battery is starting to go, it was time to consider a new phone. The need for an affordable price tag drove me towards a 3rd Generation iPhone SE. Given this phone contains the latest processor and wireless radios, it’s a decent investment and should be as future proof as a mobile phone can be. Also, I missed the smaller size of some of the older iPhones.

I had originally planned to move everything over from my previous iPhone and start using it as my primary phone. In fact, that’s what I did at first: I restored the backup from my previous iPhone to it and moved the SIM card over. The backup and restore took a bit, but I had everything more or less working on the new phone.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I needed far more than just a new phone. I needed a whole new identity separate from this thing called “work.” That means having different phone service.

I was reminded of the fact I actually had completely separate service when my soon-to-be ex contacted me telling me she had put my line that was previously in our family plan on it’s own and that I would need to take over paying for it. For a single line, the cost would be double what it was as part of the family plan. Had she thought to contact me first, I would have told her to just cancel the line outright, saving her the cost.

That said, the idea of obtaining separate mobile phone service seemed like a good idea, so I acquired a new line with a different carrier at a cost that was a lot closer to what that line would have cost had it remained on that family plan. Given that modern iPhones are dual SIM (the second being an eSIM) and I chose a service provider that supports eSIM, I could have easily put both services in the same phone. However, I need physical separation between the two.

What about all the stuff I cloned from one phone to the other? Given how Apple devices “share” things with each other, how can I make sure only my personal calls and messages ring on my personal device and not the others? Or more importantly: how can I make sure my work calls and messages don’t ring my personal device?

The simplest approach would have been to create another Apple ID and use on the personal device. I could then use something like Family Sharing to share purchases between the two. That said, I’m currently trying another way.

iMessage and Facetime both have options on a given device to be reachable from certain identities (phone numbers and email addresses). Setting both phones to respond only to unique identities helped there. There’s also a setting in the Phone app for Calls on Other Devices that I turned off as well.

That sounds easy enough at a high level. Deciding what was “work” and what was “personal” was a bit more complicated than it seems. Mainly because things like my “personal” email address have a professional element to it. It’s also on every spam list known to man, given my history in blogging. When you add in the fact that anything related to the divorce is going through that email address, it’s pretty clear anything associated with that email address falls into a completely different category.

That category? Out of sight, out of mind. That meant a couple of concrete things:

  • Removing the account from the default mail app on my phones
  • Logged off that email account from the main browser instances on my desktops and laptops

Of course, I can still access the email account from the Gmail app and any web browser. On the desktop/laptop computers, I’m only using it in an Incognito/Private browser now. On my phones, I’m only accessing it from the Gmail app, which I rarely use and have suppressed all notifications for. Which basically means I can still access it when needed, but it’s more hidden and there’s enough friction that I have to make a conscious effort to do it.

I can’t quite get full separation of the various segments of my life as the moment, giving my current living situation. That said, I’ve hopefully segmented off the more stressful parts of it to the extent I can.


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