Mindfulness, Work-Life Balance, & Boundaries

Did you know that people have different preferences in the boundaries they set at work? Read on to see what that means for work-life balance and how mindfulness can help!

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We’ve talked a lot about mindfulness and work-life balance in the past. But what about putting these two concepts together? Today, we not only talk about mindfulness and work-life balance, but we also discuss how things differ depending on the boundaries you like to create. Are you an integrator or a segmenter? And how does that impact your balance? Read on to learn more!

Work-Life Balance and Boundaries

What do you think of when you hear the term work-life balance? Do you think about being able to do all the things you want to do in your personal life? Do you think about clear boundaries between your work and your home life? As we’ve talked about before, wellness and work-life balance are not one size fits all. For some people, work-life balance means strict boundaries. For others, it means more fluidity.

In the research, there’s a concept called segmentation preference, which gets at this boundary idea. Some people have a high preference for segmentation. They are often referred to as segmenters. Segmenters like a strict boundary between work and life. They do not want to think about personal, life-related things while they are working and vice versa. They don’t want to be disrupted by home responsibilities while at work and hate to be interrupted with work issues while ‘off the clock’. Segmenters prefer to have a strict end time for work and don’t want to get back into work until the next day.

Segmenters like strict boundaries between work and their personal lives.

On the other side of the spectrum, integrators have a low preference for segmentation. Integrators like to keep a fluid boundary between work and life. They enjoy being able to do some personal tasks during the work day and will make up the hours later. For example, and integrator might get on a few calls in the morning, then do laundry and go to the grocery store, followed by more work later into the day. They don’t mind being interrupted with something from their personal life while they are working and vice versa.

The important thing about work-life balance and boundaries is the match between the person and the environment. In other words, if you are a segmenter but can’t create strict boundaries in your job, you’ll be less happy and well. And, if you are an integrator but have to stick to strict work hours, you will also be less happy and well. Finding that match will help you feel good about your balance between work and life.

What About Mindfulness?

So where does mindfulness come into play? New research shows that employees that practice mindfulness are more satisfied with their work life balance. This was true of everyone that participated in a mindfulness intervention. Interestingly, however, integrators got an extra benefit from the mindfulness intervention. Apparently, learning mindfulness helps integrators learn to psychologically detach from work. Thus, while good for everyone, if you are an integrator that struggles to put work aside at night, mindfulness might be particularly important for you!

Mindfulness is great for everyone!

What To Do

There’s a lot to take away from today’s article. First, are you an integrator or a segmenter? Spend some time figuring out where you fall on that spectrum. Some of you may be in the middle and some of you might be solidly integrators or segmenters. Then, reflect on your work environment. Is it conducive to your style? If not, what can you do to make it work better? If you’re a leader, consider how you can create flexibility for both styles to work effectively together.

Finally, consider starting a mindfulness practice, especially if you are an integrator. We know there are so many benefits, in addition to helping you feel better about your balance.

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