I wouldn’t have been able to tell you whether I identify as an integrator or a segmenter, but I immediately saw myself as a segmenter the morning that I read this article by Melody Wilding. Managing my work and life so that there’s more living in my life hasn’t been an issue for me for a very-long time because I segment like a champ.
That evening, with my DH away and the cats soundly asleep, I decided to binge watch HGTV and get a jump on the next morning’s email. And that’s when it hit me. I’m a champion segmenter right up until I make the choice to behave like an integrater. My business. My life. My way. Right?
What makes me a great segmenter is my staunch resolve to having a personal life that isn’t mucked up by arbitrary client urgencies. Having outward-facing office hours are key to my strategy, and are, I’m sure, what keep my life sane. And maybe they’re the key for you, too.
In case you aren’t sure what I mean, outward-facing hours are the hours the world believes me to be available. They’re like the hours at your local grocery—the doors don’t open until a certain time, and they close at a certain time, and in between, well, no one can get in. It doesn’t matter how hard someone bangs on the door sobbing about having forgotten the cupcake mix for the second-grade bake sale the next morning, the doors are locked and ain’t nobody around to help Mama (or Daddy!) out with the dire situation.
For the bulk of the world, my outward-facing hours are Mon-Thurs 9a-3p. My private coaching clients have slightly different expectations of me (I’m available a bit earlier and later for them). But my inward-facing hours (when I’m willing to work—behind the scenes) are Mon-Thurs, 8a-6p. With precious-few exceptions, I do all my work during those hours.
And when I choose to do something different, I make sure to use tools to allow me to send later, schedule a post, or leave something in draft until an appropriate time.
The integrators I work with love the freedom of working when and where they want, but they don’t love the expectations that they often create and have to manage. It’s hard for most people to say to a client, “Look, I work when I want, but you can only reach me during these specific hours.”
And it’s natural for a client, seeing an email from you at 10pm, to think you’re “there” and to write back with a question. It’s also natural for that person to be a bit unhappy when you don’t answer.
On the whole, being a segmenter, or behaving like one, is probably the best path I know to having what I call “work-life integration,” and Melody calls “work/life fit.”
But if you can merge the two by smartly using your devices and tools without ever sacrificing yourself and your life, and doing so allows you to be more you, I say why not? Perhaps the key is to only work outside your hours on things that you can do in the shadows, like the kinds of things I mentioned above that I do. Some other things you could do (off the top of my head) are research, creating graphics and social posts, plan a client’s next launch or event, brainstorm, or anything that can stay with you until work hours. Get ahead on those things, but only ask questions or deliver what you’ve promised during the hours that clients expect you to be available; your outward-facing hours.
In that way, your clients have completely aligned expectations, and you have the work/life integration that suits you to a tee.