How Do You Compartmentalise Your Life?

How Do You Compartmentalise Your Life?Do you think the internet has reduced our concentration spans?  It deliver’s many forms of stimulation.  Jumping from one site to another.  We don’t keep our attention in one place for too long.  Yet there are times when we compartmentalise each and every task.  Concentrating; not allowing anything to interrupt us until the job is done.

Distractions are everywhere.  With our busy schedules we must exercise discipline over the mind.

Our lives revolve around two main environments.  Home and school or how we earn a living.  Yet it is far more complex.  When we divide our time into compartments we get a better look at all the responsibilities.

How Do You Compartmentalise Your Life?Home:  Relaxation, Entertainment, Rent or Mortgage, Bills, Repairs, Meals, Cleaning, Garden and/or Pool Maintenance

Family:  Mother, Father, Siblings, Children, Partner, Friends, Expectations, Customs and Rituals, Celebrations

Work:  Relationships, Deadlines, Pressures, Earnings, Meetings, Events

 Activities:  Expenses, Pleasures, Activity (E.g. Fishing or Scrapbooking)

This can be divided into smaller components.

Sibling: School, Homework, Friends, Activities, Illness, Appointments, Hobbies, Invitations.

Throughout the day we have various duties and responsibilities to attend to.  Our attention is determined by how we have arranged our life.  Each area gives us joy, pleasure, pressures, burdens and unhappiness.

Maintaining a single-mindedness becomes difficult when we are faced with a number of problems in different areas of our daily lives.

How to Compartmentalise?

We separate one component of our life from the others.  Concentrating on the immediate responsibility.

At work you have a deadline to meet.  For a certain period of time you zero in on your duties.  Leaving everything else you have to ponder behind.  This achieves your desired outcome.

Your day at work is over.  Although there are a hundred jobs competing for your attention.  What is the point of allowing work to mentally consume you when you are heading into another part of your life?  Either set aside time for some planning or switch work off completely.

Without this skill, life can get rather hectic and overwhelming at times.  Especially when things aren’t going according to plan.  Or we have over extended ourselves and have far too much on our plate.

Stress can turn a day into a living nightmare.  Losing focus and not reaching our daily expectations.  Creating possible delays. 

To overcome our dilemma’s we can exercise our ability to compartmentalise.

Think about when you have watched a program where someone has died.  Those closest to the recently departed all handle loss in different ways.  Some go back to work immediately.  Wanting to forget or escape the pain.  They refocus their energies elsewhere so as not to feel the depths of despair.

This useful skill assists us in challenging times.  Faking a smile and getting on with it.  Compartmentalising is how to take yourself outside of your sorrow.  It gives you a moment of relief.

Faking a smile and getting on with it. Compartmentalising is how to take yourself outside of your… Click To Tweet

Whether this is a healthy method of dealing with grief is not in question.  This is an example of how to compartmentalise under the most intense of pains.

Compartmentalising done different.

I come from an administration back ground.  I see my life’s categories separated into files.  All my tasks, commitments, activities and connections get filed away in alphabetical order.  Organised into filing cabinets

There are others who visualise a walk in wardrobe.  All their subjects get separated into shoe boxes.  These rectangular containers shuffle about when they are thinking and feeling.

An example.

  • Say you have split with your partner.
  • Divorce papers arrive in the mail.
  • The house is up for sale.
  • The Real Estate Agent is consistent in bringing people around for an inspection.
  • At work you are on tight time tables.
  • Your friends are concerned and keep ringing to ask you over for dinner.

Everywhere you turn there is some form of pressure; attached to a strong emotion.

It’s at this point we don’t want to group all these circumstances together.  Address each issue on its own.  One shoe box for divorce.  A file for real estate matters.

We all know the pain of splitting up with someone.  It can weigh us down for long periods of time.  Our heart falls to pieces.  This is when we must exercise discipline.  You have to force yourself to keep up with your daily routine.

Categorise your urgencies into separate compartments.  Concentrating on what is in front of you.  It relieves you of the enormous pressure of the separation.  You get away from it for a while.

How Do You Compartmentalise Your Life?The real estate phone for another inspection.  It benefits you to have the house clean and tidy.  This practice fetches a better price on the market.

These inspections are a chore, so you avoid them.  When you leave home, you place all the residential issues in a shoe box.  Not taking the drama to your next location.

How Do You Compartmentalise Your Life?You have arranged to see a lawyer with regards to your pending divorce.  You’re seeking advice and representation.  You give the solicitor your undivided attention.  Keeping all the other pressing issues at bay.  Before you know it, your appointment is over.  You are now left with your ex-partner on your mind.

Compartmentalising allows us to separate circumstances, emotions, and behaviours.  Those which may excite us or be of a heavy burden.

We compartmentalise our emotions. 

How do you know you are a compartmentaliser?  When we’re in a conversation we feel a certain emotion.  It may be dismayed, annoyed or drained.  Yet when that subject is filed away the emotions attached to the situation go with it.

A friend has upset you.  As you express your views, your voice highlights how furious you are.  Another person arrives on the scene.  You change your tone of voice to accommodate the individual.  You may even change the subject completely.  This is compartmentalising your subject matter and sentiments.

Mums; when you have to pull your children into line.  You get your disciplined tone on.  The kids understand they are being reprimanded.  The phone rings you answer it in a totally different voice.  This is compartmentalising your emotions.

Our feelings shift depending on what’s on our mind.  You’re out having coffee and cake with friends.  It is light hearted and fun, you’re having a good time.

The conversation moves onto the subject of death.  While a few jokes maybe made from the aftermath of the laugh, the group starts to get serious.  Because death is an intense subject.

We slot subjects, behaviours and moods into categories.  We leave one feeling and box it up to look at another area of our life in order to remain focused.  It is important to ensure that we do this.

Dwelling on a particularly unpleasant situation can take us to dark places in our mind.  Ignoring other aspects of our lives for short periods of time, is more than acceptable.

An indicator that further assistance may be required is when:-

  • we contemplate matters for prolonged periods of time


  • can’t shift our mood.

We combine feelings and thoughts together.  The harming of animals can make us angry and repulsed.  Wondering what sort of a human is capable of such violence.  Yet the birth of a child brings out a totally different feeling in us.

You’re listening to a news report.

  • The weather says hot and humid. We err at the humidity.
  • Then you hear a child witnesses the attack of a relative who was murdered. We feel for the youngster.
  • The next report is of a poor man winning the lottery. You may question when it’s your turn.  You could feel happy for him.  The story did say he had been doing it tough.

Each news subject makes us feel for a moment and we move on.  This is when we are unattached to the situation.

Our state of mind is harder to shift when matters do affect our lives.  Bringing our attention back to the immediate minute.  Not living in the past or the future.  Focusing solely of what is in front of us.

We all know how to compartmentalise.  We do it on a regular basis.  Some occasions are easier than others.  This skill keep us on track.  Especially when life seems like chaos has rocked our world.

When the pressure is on and stress is upon us we will find it hard to concentrate.  We must be determined and disciplined (okay we have to force ourselves) to focus.

We needn’t worry, we know that our raw emotions and situations aren’t going anywhere.  We aren’t ignoring them or attempting to run away.  We relieve ourselves from the tension if only for a while.  Compartmentalising;  it can keep us sane.

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  1. Hi Rachel,

    You are so right about all that you mentioned, and it’s surely something I experience all day long, so one can well relate to it all 🙂

    I don’t think we as bloggers can function without compartmentalizing!! I’d never be able to get anything done for sure!! And being a full time mom, my compartments are all the more and all of them need attention, so your organizational skills, the time management skills, and following a proper routine and disciplined life – all have to work together to make things work.

    Yes, distractions are everywhere, and with each passing day, they only increase. I’d say, for bloggers too, as our friend’s circle increase, our reach increases, our visits to many other blogs increase, and at such times, if we don’t set limits and compartmentalize things, it can be very tough to do what’s required, isn’t it?

    You’re right about compartmentalizing our emotions too, as you put up a smiling face and carry on, no matter what you maybe going through – it’s a mask you wear if you are working, especially in the online world where people l lead busy lives. I guess very few would know the real you as you hardly have time to share your real emotions with people, they are all compartmentalized!

    Thanks for sharing all of this with us. Happy weekend! 🙂

    BTW – Good to see the CommentLuv plugin working again 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted…8 Ways to Create More Love in Your RelationshipMy Profile

    • Hey Harleena,

      Welcome back.

      You nailed it when you said time management and organsational skills come into the play when compartmentalising. Also discipline to ensure the routine is maintained. Without these skills we would get nothing done. I would be playing my favorite game and chatty with my favorite people all day long.

      It’s all about what we find a priority. I believe it requires assessment and adjustment all the time. Especially when we take on a new project or our visibility and circles increase. I am working on that as we speak. It takes a bit of juggling, testing, reviewing and juggling again. Isn’t it just a wonderful challenge and fine balancing act. As I came from an administrative background and enjoy a thorough professional approach – I struggled with all the dynamics of blogging to the point to stress. I got to grips with that quick smart. As there was no point to it.

      We all wear that mask, because it’s how we represent ourselves that counts. People who like themselves hold integrity, truth and honest as their accountant. They are always admirable qualities don’t you think?

      Yeah after some time playing around with my blog and speaking with the Commentluv guys – I finally got it up and running. I am too scared to add more plugin, because it is a great plugin and I don’t want to lose it again.

      Thanks for the visit and your comments.


  2. Hi, Rachel! 🙂

    Great topic and post!

    Compartmentalizing could be difficult at times because like you said, our “scripts”–how we were raised, how we formed our beliefs, etc.–sometimes dictate how we should react to a situation, or in some cases, how we carry on despite some other ugly event that has happened.

    I like how you raised the “fake it till you make it” attitude. Nice. This works pretty well when you’re with friends or in good company, I find.

    To me, compartmentalizing is a really great way to take care of oneself. It’s “observing” first, before you dive in. From almost all angles–hurting, mental focus, saving yourself from a headache–compartmentalizing does help you keep your sanity.

    It’s indeed a skill. And must be used “in moderation.” I mean–thoughts, emotions–these are powerful things. We should use this skill easy.
    Ethan Bridges recently posted…How to Live in the Moment and Achieve Goals at the Same TimeMy Profile

    • Hey Ethan,

      It’s your first time to my blog, so welcome.

      I agree compartmentalising can be difficult at times. However when we have pressing time lines it can be what relieves of our immediate pain. Achieving our goals. I always believe if we can keep going, even if at a slower pace when something in our life has whacked us for a six we are on the right track.

      The fake it until you make it attitude, relieves us of our issues. We get a choice of sharing our problems with our friends. Sometimes going to friends not wanting to talk about it, just to be rid of it for a while. Mind you our close friends can be pretty switched on. Knowing something is up.

      When we linger in our problems for too long we can get lost there and even lose our perspective. We do need a break from the hurt and heartache. Mind you it takes a whole lot of determination in those dark hours, generally when we don’t have to much strength to muster.

      Oh boy are our emotions powerful. They certainly can be packed with mental punches. I never believe we can escape our problems just box them up for a while. I don’t know about you but that to me is a huge relief.

      Thanks for your wonderful comments.


  3. Hi Rachel

    I totally agree with all you have said. I guess each one of us can very well relate to it.

    To work and manage things effectively. we need to compartmentalize. to get a better look at things we need to do, compartmentalization is very important. apart from being involved in work and at home, we need time for ourselves also. This is one compartment which I can never miss out on. Whenever I am stressed out, I just need to spend time with myself torelax.

    Time management is very important. I remember two months back when I started blogging – how things became haphazard. It was really difficult to divide time between my teaching, my writing and then blogging. But now with some time management I have done it!

    You are so true about compartmentalization of emotions. Even if we are upset, we have to pretend to be happy. Well thats life.

    Thanks for the wonderful post!
    Sonal Talwar recently posted…How healthy is your cup of Tea?My Profile

    • Hey Sonal,

      Welcome back.

      You make a great point. Relaxation is very important. I used to ignore it when things got busy. Not having time for it. I could not get behind. However it truly does make us more productive. When I started focusing on this area and looking at my work progress and then taking time off – it was extraordinary. So now it gets routinely put into my weekly routine.

      I was not aware it was only two months you had been blogging for. You look like you have been doing it for years. That’s great. Your professional side certainly looks as if it is manageable. Your are right, time management and compartmentalising are a great combination in making progress and getting things done.

      Thanks for your wonderful comments.


  4. Hi Rachel

    So this is what we call it. I have never really looked deep into it till today.

    You are so right about Compartmentalizing. I believe that it is necessary because there is so much that requires our attention.

    You reveal an interesting fact of how we are able to handle our emotions to difference situations.

    Thanks for sharing and Thumbs up to this awesome post. Take Care

    I practice this a lot and I know how it feels. Activities can be overwhelming for me at times and I had to discipline myself to focus.

    • Hey Ikechi,

      I am working on overwhelming (or studying it should I say). I don’t know about you but blogging can do this to me.

      We are all masters of compartmentalising in some categories and need a little more determination when things we are not used to arise. Big smile at ‘I had to discipline myself to focus’ – doesn’t it get hard sometimes? I struggle every now and again. Say a day of writing and I get side tracked, when I reflect on it – I know my focus will be much better the following day because I get a little cranky with myself.

      Those dam emotions – the things would could achieve with ease, if they were just not so intense at times. Thanks for your comments.


  5. Hi, Rachel

    Excellence post again!

    Each of us is wanted in every area of our life: home, work, spouse, kids, bosses, parents, etc. If we don’t concentrate or focus for a little while, we will put ourselves into chaotic situations. Every thing will spiral into many places. You are right that we need to compartmentalize the events in order for us to function well in our daily life.

    We must also compartmentalize our emotions. It is dead wrong to bring my sadness of lost into the friend’s birthday party. In my opinion, it is a sign of maturity to be able to compartmentalize our emotion for the sake of others and ourselves.

    Thanks for the post! Have shared!

    Happy Holidays!

    Stella Chiu

    • Hey Stella,

      Always wonderful to see, especially before a busy Christmas.

      I agree everything can spiral out of control, losing focus. Our minds flittering here, there and everywhere rather than remaining on anyone subject. I always see it like the day starts off bad. You stub your toe, food is spilt on your top. One of the kids can’t find there sports clothes, you run late in getting to work. When you get there it like the pressures of the morning can be left as you enter the workplace. Changing the mind set and focusing in on your work load.

      I love your example – being the kill joy of a party and bringing everyone down is being selfish. Don’t go if that is the case. It is a sign of maturity that you fake a smile that is a fact, but it can also be the best medicine. We can surprised in these times as we may just enjoy it even if for only a moment.

      Thanks for comment. Have a wonderful Christmas.


  6. Hi Rachel,

    I’m so glad I came across your blog, and this post. 🙂 I loved your examples of visualization you used for compartmentalizing. Because I’m visually impaired, and hence not a visual person at all by nature, I see these compartments a little differently. Each one is its own tiny room. Each room has its own atmosphere, and I try to figure out how each one makes me feel. If one of these rooms is larger than the rest, and taking up too much of my mental space, then I need to prioritize it and figure out why it’s so large.

    Also, as you said, sometimes the emotional compartments are the hardest. The ones that take discipline should be on the top of the priority list, but those emotions can take over and keep us from doing what we need to do. There’s the matter of others trying to compartmentalize for us as well. Say you have to get something done, but a family member or a friend is wanting/needing your attention. It’s not always knowing when to work, when to play, when to spend time with others, and how to juggle all of that. Each compartment to me is like a piece of my brain house, where the rooms constantly switch and move. Don’t know if you’re a Harry Potter fan, but it sort of reminds me of Hogwarts. 🙂 It’s a tricky castle, and people get lost in it all the time. We have to learn where to go, and when to be there, and how to handle everything when we get to that certain compartment in our lives.

    This was a fascinating topic. Thank you for putting it at the forefront of my thoughts today.

    Be blessed,
    Rylie Robinson recently posted…What Singing Has Taught Me About Being a Successful Public SpeakerMy Profile

    • Hey Rylie,

      It’s your first time to my blog so welcome.

      I enjoyed how you saw your compartments, especially the atmosphere (great way of putting it). I generally see it more of a stress or a pressure. When you say atmosphere it allows for more room to maneuver. Although the atmosphere can be felt and sometimes that is the exact thing we are putting aside in order to focus.

      The emotional compartments are the toughest I agree. We all have experienced some form of pain. I know certain pain exhausts me. So when I need to exercise determination and I am tired before I start, it can be the hardest thing to do. I just do it slower. However once I head in that direction I need to focus on, it can be such a relief.

      As for the family, friends and obligations. Giving them prior warning that you have something that you want to face, asking them to respect this period and offer another time, can first floor them (because this is out of character). So we not only practice determination, assertion but time management. It is not easy. We want to keep everyone happy, but the number one priority is you. As you see your biggest room needs the attention, that room would also include you in it.

      I love the Harry Potter idea, I am visualising a castle in my head as I type this. That tricky castle may take the edge off some of those major issues.

      Thanks for the visit, I really enjoy new connections and it was a joy visualising your perspective.


    • Hey Muhammad,

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Yes I am fooling around with my blog (not as scared of it as I once was), thanks for saying so.


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