1.27.2016

Compartmentalization vs. Integration

http://blogs-images.forbes.com/ryanblair/files/2012/06/brain1.jpg
I've been musing a lot lately about this notion of compartmentalizing your life versus integrating your life.  What do I mean?  A lot of different things. 

To begin with, you can think about two kinds of people in terms of their work schedules.  One has a bright light between work time/space and the rest of their lives, with the commute to and from being serving as the demarcation between the two, and not a whole lot of bleed from one to another (i.e. not spending any work time on non-work stuff and vice versa).  This largely characterizes me.  Although at times I need to deal with non-work stuff at work and increasingly I do work outside of work hours, it is not my preference.

Another type of work schedule has very little if any distinction between work time/space and non-work time/space.  Their life is one seamless blur of work and non-work elements, with little sense of work having to be done at certain hours or in certain places.  People that work from home, people that work for start-ups, or people in full-time ministry often fall into this category. They have supreme flexibility to handle whatever it is they need to handle, work or non-work, whenever and wherever they need to.  Which can be either really necessary or really headache-inducing (or both). 

I don't think I could hack this for very long stretches of time.  I strive to compartmentalize, so that I can focus on work matters when and where I am able to, and otherwise be free to handle non-work matters outside of that time/space.  Again, it doesn't describe how I actually live my life, but it does describe how I would prefer to.

And yet, in another sense, I am fairly strongly integrated rather than compartmentalized, in that I do not distinguish between work and non-work matters in terms of what I am interested in and how I socialize with others.  The proliferation of Facebook has been such that an increasing number of my Facebook friends are actually work-related colleagues.  And, far from being weirded out by this breaking down of barriers between knowing someone in a work sense and getting to see some facets of their personal lives, I am finding it to be an absolute joy.  For this blurring of work and non-work elements helps me in a work sense by adding texture to my professional relationships, and in some instances it is helping turn work colleagues into personal friends in a really wonderful way.

So non-work considerations have crept into my work relationships.  And the opposite is true, too.  I am completely comfortable with and quite enjoy talking about work with my friends and family.  This may seem obvious, but it is not always true of everyone.  Among my extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins, there is exactly zero talk about our professional livelihoods.  When we gather, we talk about health and vacations and kids and sport, but there is not so much as a quick word of congrats about a recent promotion or a brief anecdote about an office-related snafu.

As a consultant, I am tempted to draw a two-by-two grid, showing these two axes of compartmentalization versus integration, and ask others where they think they fall on this grid.  But I won't nerd you out in that way today.  Still, I find it interesting to be high compartmentalization in one sense, and high integration in another.  And you?
Post a Comment