What does it mean to “compartmentalize”? Is it a good thing?

Isn’t it just lovely to be stress-free at the moment and able to concentrate fully on whatever life throws at you? One method of reaching a point where you feel more in charge of your life is to be able to compartmentalize. It enables you to segment the jobs, commitments, and ideas you have into distinct areas, so they don’t conflict for your attention constantly or overlap. Then, you may group all of your ongoing jobs and projects into different virtual boxes, allowing you to focus solely on one at a time.

Compartmentalizing is beneficial for stress management because it can ease tension and anxiety. It’s a strategy that’s frequently employed to prevent mental discomfort and assist with the divergent viewpoints of individuals who are in our daily lives.

What does it mean to "compartmentalize"? Is it a good thing?

In this article, the answers to the following questions will be discussed:

  • What Is Compartmentalization?
  • Is it a good thing to compartmentalize?
  • What are the 10 common ways of practicing compartmentalization?


What Is Compartmentalization?

It is a psychological defense mechanism to compartmentalize. In essence, the brain is already conditioned to create compartments. Your brain switches to the “fight” mode while under stress or anxiety. It pushes opposing feelings or thoughts apart and deposits them in separate locations whenever they collide. Your mind blocks out opposing ideas to keep you calm. This is exactly what compartmentalization entails.

To compartmentalize is to have the capacity to block out all other distractions and work only on the task at hand. Nothing can get through your defenses. Compartmentalization is a psychological defense strategy our brains employ to block out harsh experiences. We block off any recollections of the horrific experience. If left unaddressed, this could result in major mental health issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

However, compartmentalization can be used productively to increase our productivity and let us concentrate on the things that matter to us. The well-known leadership consultant, Robin Sharma, refers to it as his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. He accomplishes the task he wants to focus on during this time by blocking out all distractions, turning off his phone, and finding a quiet spot where no one will bother him. Which makes him prides himself on being almost unreachable and allows nothing to get in the way of his work.

Some refer to it as “deep work.” Turning everything off and listening to my favorite music podcast, The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music), helps me concentrate when I need to work on a particular project. It functions and enables me to produce a ton of content.

Read more: Effective ways to build up your brain and increase your focus level

Is it a good thing to compartmentalize?

The biggest benefit of compartmentalization is that it enables you to completely concentrate on the work at hand, regardless of everything else that is going on in your life, such as a difficult period in your relationships, a failing business, or a recent argument with a coworker. You can enter a mental chamber, close the door, and focus your complete attention on whatever it is you want to focus on because your mind perceives things as distinct rooms with closable doors. Your thoughts don’t stray.

Being in this mood can significantly increase your productivity. You find that you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do and that you produce a lot more high-quality work. Because of the advantages it will give you, learning this talent is worthwhile.

What are the 10 common ways of practicing compartmentalization?

There are several methods and tactics for practicing compartmentalizing, both mentally and practically, through the way your life is set up. Then, you can establish guidelines, routines, and strategies to lower stress and gain greater control. The following are the 10 common ways of practicing compartimentalization:

  • Start by visualizing
  • Focus on one task at a time (monotask)
  • Write down things.
  • Simplify each project you are working on individually.
  • Concentrate on a task you alone can handle.
  • Create Time Barriers
  • Set some ground rules for yourself.
  • Get rid of distractions from your emails.
  • Do not focus on what is urgent but on what’s important.
  • Make sure that whatever you do is aligned with your goals.

Start by visualizing

You can begin compartmentalizing by beginning to imagine your journey toward a long-term objective or vision. One strategy is to picture yourself traveling in a car while focusing on what will help you reach your objectives and avoiding what won’t. Let me explain better: Move whatever problems or stress you are experiencing into a different vehicle or residence that is not currently on your journey or has not yet begun.

For example, even though it is still several weeks away, you are already anxious about a big presentation at work. You shouldn’t be thinking about it just yet, so put it in a house much farther up the road. Tell yourself it’s okay to have it there and that you will deal with it when you’re ready, as you concentrate intently on the house. Then you continue on your journey.

Continue on this journey, putting each dominating notion into a different vehicle or residence, until you feel like you have a home for all of your primary concerns or ideas. “Say no to and remove anything from your journey that you do not want.” The more you employ this strategy, the more in control and at ease you’ll feel in no time.

Read more: Common ways to stay focused and be more productive

Focus on one task at a time (monotask)

Although, it may seem apparent, there is a big difference between knowing that you should concentrate on one task at a time and really doing it. Multitasking is ineffective and reduces productivity and focus. Choose one task. No matter how big or tiny, start the timer as a modest pledge to yourself that you won’t be interrupted during this period. Give that task your undivided attention till the timer goes off.

Use an app, a stopwatch, or a Google timer. As long as it has an alarm once finished, it doesn’t matter. The ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task is known as “deep work” and is something that can be practiced. Cal Newport calls it “deep work” in his book “Deep Work.” You’ll get better at this skill the more you use it.

Write down things:

Even if you are completely concentrated and skilled in compartmentalization techniques, thoughts and ideas will still enter your consciousness. Keep a little notebook with you at all times to jot down your thoughts so they don’t come to mind again.

To avoid taking your attention away from what you’re working on, only a few words are required. Once you’ve identified this notion, you can continue doing what you’re doing. By addressing the thought with the action of taking notes, you are able to stop it from repeating in your thoughts.

Read more: How mindfulness can increase your focus and boost your productivity

Simplify each project you are working on individually:

Some requests or initiatives, whether at work or at home, might occasionally seem overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to begin when the request is significant or complicated. Stress is brought on by this sense of being overwhelmed, and you inevitably begin to doubt yourself. You’re wondering how you’ll ever manage to do this with everything else going on in your life. How would you address this? You make everything simpler. Not that the request has suddenly become easy and simple, but by compartmentalizing it, you may divide it into smaller, more manageable jobs.

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If a project has several tasks, divide it up into several parts or sections and give these areas names. After that, choose a section and do each task one at a time. Break complicated or difficult jobs into smaller ones until you can do them. Pay attention to one thing at a time. Why stress over your chores when you’ll never finish them all at once? You get closer to finishing them all each time you do an assignment.

Concentrate on a task you alone can handle:

The activities of individuals around you or distracting thoughts can frequently cause you to lose focus, both physically and psychologically. Being able to compartmentalize allows you to concentrate on what you can manage at that particular time and prevents others from distracting or moving you into a difficult situation.

Remind yourself that you have power over how you will respond to any outside stimuli, such as an unpleasant pedestrian, an angry motorist, or a coworker’s comment. Being grateful in these circumstances is one way to aid in moving on. It sounds odd, but allow me to explain.

You slam on the breaks and get trapped at a red light because an unpleasant pedestrian crossed the street at the wrong time. Saying “thank you” now will help me focus better on the journey ahead rather than letting the stress fester. It might have even averted a more serious incident from occurring later on in your journey. Saying “thank you” and finding the good in the circumstance alone will significantly lower your stress levels and help the situation pass.

Create Time Barriers:

Setting time limits has many benefits for stress management, workload management, and productivity management. Setting aside time for yourself when there are no distractions from work, social media, or other activities that could increase stress is essential for handling life in general. Everyone will be able to do this at different times of the day, but setting aside 6 to 7 a.m. every morning for exercise, reading, or meditation is a great way to begin the day. Two actions are needed to do this:

To avoid wasting your me-time, schedule your week each week and note in your journal what you plan to do during this time. Next, let folks close to you know when you’re doing this and why. Be honest about the cause so that they can assist you in ensuring that these time slots remain open.

Read more: Reasons why you can’t concentrate and how you can stay focused

Set some ground rules for yourself:

Examine your actions that can lead to tension, loss of concentration, or placing yourself in unfavorable situations. Then make rules to either stop you from acting in this way or to assist you in identifying the circumstances that cause you to act in this way. It may sound like returning to school, but consider these examples:

Since you’re most productive during specific times of the day, you only work on a specific type of task during those times. Or you only play with your kids between the hours of 9 and 11 on Saturday mornings, avoiding email and household chores because the two don’t go well together. Making these guidelines for yourself helps them become habits, which eliminates the need for reminders.

Get rid of distractions from your emails:

Being able to compartmentalize can be hampered by having constant access to work emails. Because they cause stress and prevent you from completely resting and concentrating on your personal life after work. The only surefire solution is to avoid performing ad hoc checks on your inbox once work is done. Even though you might think that checking your email in the evenings will make your life easier, the later you check, the harder it will be for you to unplug, enjoy the evening, and get a good night’s sleep.

Create a time limit for when you will last check your email for the day, ideally when you are still at work. To put an end to emails till the following day, you must make sure you still have a few hours in the evening. For you to avoid the temptation to check your mailbox, you can also disable Create a time limit for when you will last check your email for the day, ideally when you are still at work.

To put an end to emails till the following day, you must make sure you still have a few hours in the evening. To avoid the temptation to check your mailbox, you can also disable notifications on your mobile device. These are easy to turn on and off with a few clicks. If you’re unable to disable notifications, try leaving your phone in a different room each night to avoid temptation. notifications on your mobile device. These are easy to turn on and off with a few clicks. If you’re unable to disable notifications, try leaving your phone in a different room each night to avoid temptation.

Read more: Common Ways to Avoid Distraction and Stay Focused on a Task

Do not focus on what is urgent but on what’s important:

Whether you love your job or despise it, work sometimes interferes with other areas of your life, including those at home and while traveling. There are always demands coming your way, even while you’re working, so it’s crucial to know the difference between urgent and significant tasks when it comes to stress management. For instance, emails almost always contain a call for a response in the form of information, action, or an answer. Because we are used to constantly replying to emails promptly, they are frequently considered urgent.

Even if only a few emails are important, most of them seem urgent most of the time. Decide what is important over urgent, and then focus on the emails that are important first because they will have the biggest impact. When you receive a request, whether it be an email or another kind of time-consuming message, consider if you really need to react right now. Is it more important than what I’m doing right now? Can it wait? You might also imagine yourself in the requester’s position and ask yourself whether it will really matter if they don’t hear back right away.

Make sure that whatever you do is aligned with your goals.

You may arrange everything into compartments and take yourself on a journey in your mind using the visualization approach, just as you do with actual acts. Every activity you want to do should be in line with a personal, professional, or relational objective that you have set for yourself. You’re compartmentalizing the physical environment in this way to maintain your attention and composure. By compartmentalizing your goals, you can ensure that you are concentrating on the things that will benefit you the most and move you closer to achieving them. With this strategy in place, you may now refuse the temptation to work on anything that doesn’t support your objectives.


What does it mean if a person compartmentalizes?

People compartmentalize their thoughts, feelings, or experiences in order to protect themselves from the discomfort of contradiction.

Is it healthy to compartmentalize emotions?

Compartmentalizing enables a person to see what is causing them stress and to let other, unconnected aspects of their life exist on their own merits. But can those who are emotionally intelligent go a step farther and take chances unrelated to what is worrying them?

What does compartmentalization mean in relationships?

“Compartmentalize” is a verb that means to separate into distinct groups, according to Webster’s. It’s common for a man to compartmentalize his relationships when a woman complains that he is emotionally distant or not moving toward commitment.

What is compartmentalization in psychology?

The anxiety that results from the collision of opposing ideals or emotions is what psychologists refer to as compartmentalization. For instance, a manager can consider himself to be loving and sympathetic at home but a strong guy with a hard exterior at work.

What causes people to compartmentalize?

The mental act of compartmentalizing involves keeping things apart to prevent unwanted feelings. Our minds employ it as a subconscious psychological defensive mechanism to deal with opposing internal opinions.

How do you emotionally compartmentalize?

  • Know your emotions.
  • Group them.
  • Stop being falsely negative.
  • Keep boundaries.

Can you compartmentalize trauma?

For trauma patients, compartmentalizing is a typical coping strategy. Trauma was isolated from my sensations and emotions by the mind. When the last straw comes, they split apart like oil and vinegar. It worked, as they say in trauma and addiction counseling.

Do sociopaths compartmentalize?

David is aware that the characteristics of sociopathy don’t lend themselves to solid, long-term partnerships, so he compartmentalizes his connections and alters his behavior depending on the audience.

What does it mean to compartmentalize my life?

Psychology defines compartmentalization as a defensive strategy in which someone hides their feelings and thoughts. This frequently serves to defend or justify a person’s level of engagement in particular behaviors, even though it is not necessarily done consciously.

Do narcissists compartmentalize?

Narcissists are experts at compartmentalizing their thoughts so they can work with laser focus and avoid getting sidetracked by other people’s problems, such as a sick child or family problems. Although it might accomplish the task, that chilly compartmentalization is bad for concerns of the heart.

Do most men compartmentalize?

Because the male brain is typically more adept at lateralizing and compartmentalizing, he tends to be more task-focused. According to Gurian, the female brain tends to perceive and feel more than the male brain because it has more [nerve] connections, continuously crosses messages, and takes in more information.

That is all for this article, where the answers to the following questions are being discussed:

  • What Is Compartmentalization?
  • Is it a good thing to compartmentalize?
  • What are the 10 common ways of practicing compartmentalization?

I hope you learn a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share it with others. Thanks for reading, see you around!