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Published on June 8, 2020

How to Compartmentalize for Enhanced Productivity

How to Compartmentalize for Enhanced Productivity

Time does not stop for anyone. This, paired with the fast-paced world we live in today, is affecting the mental health of everyone. That is why you need to learn how to compartmentalize for your own good!

Stress and anxiety are more common than we could have ever managed. All of this is a result of jumbled thoughts.

You may wonder how one small thing can affect you so immensely.

The thing is, when your brain is unable to comprehend what’s going on inside your mind, you not only lose track of your thoughts, but this also wastes a lot of your time.

Compartmentalization is the solution that can put everything in order. From work to relationships to personal health, you can focus on the right things with the help of compartmentalization.

What is Compartmentalization?

Let’s start by looking at the term to understand what it means and does.

Compartmentalization is a psychological defense mechanism.[1]

Basically, your brain is already trained to compartmentalize. It the “fight” mechanism that your brain adopts in case of stress and anxiety.

Whenever two clashing emotions or thoughts come face to face, your brain pushes them away and puts them in two different places. Your mind keeps contradicting thoughts away to keep you at peace.

This is exactly what compartmentalization is.

However, it is suggested to use this mechanism before the clash actually arises.

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It often involves creating mental rooms that act as closed spaces. Individuals can do this regularly to avoid getting to a stage where the brain has to do it in defense.

In these rooms, you put together thoughts that fall under the same category.

For example, all your work-related tasks that need to be finished in the coming week can form one compartment. Your surprise party plans for your loved one should be in another room. Similarly, your fights with the neighbor should be in a separate space.

What this does is that it allows you to enter one room at a time to tackle the thoughts present there without getting distracted by other rooms. Your focus is ideally on one room at a time.

You can also arrange these rooms to your liking. So, the compartment with the negative thoughts that you don’t want to be bothered by is pushed to the furthest corner. The important thoughts or ones that cheer you up can be brought to the front lines.

In one line: compartmentalization refers to the act of organizing your mind.

What Will You Achieve with Compartmentalization?

Compartmentalization brings you a lot of benefits.

You Will Boost Your Mental Health

This method is a great way to boost your mental health and faculty. The nature of the process gets rid of unhealthy and negative vibes inside your mind. Once the mind is clear and peaceful, your life starts to get in order as well.

It is your route to get rid of underlying depression, too.

Basically, depression is one of the most common mental health issues in today’s world. However, it is still hard to identify. A lot of people experience depression without even realizing what they’re going through.[2]

Compartmentalization will help you understand what is really going on inside your mind. Even if you don’t identify depression, you’ll still be able to cope with it. Once the mind gets organized, negativity will automatically start to flow out.

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This peaceful state of mind will rid you of your mental health issues for the most part. However, if your scenario is more intense, do consult a professional.

You Will Be More Productive

Other than the emotional support, compartmentalization also improves your work productivity.

Look at it this way:

Assume that your room is a mess and all your belongings are thrown around recklessly. Your jeans lie in one corner of the room whereas the shirt that you want to wear is under the bed. You don’t even know where your bed is. It will automatically take you much longer to get dressed in such an environment. Moreover, you will also despise getting dressed due to the extra effort you have to put in every day.

On the other hand, if your room and closet are well-organized, you will not only enjoy the process, but it will also be significantly quicker.

With your thoughts in the right place, you can boost your productivity, improve your time-management, and also brainstorm in a better way. Mindfulness and longer focus spans will come your way with compartmentalization.

How to Compartmentalize for More Productivity

Now you’re aware of what compartmentalization is and what you can expect to achieve from it. All that’s left to do is learn how to compartmentalize in the right way.

Before we move on, you should know that this mechanism can be used for emotions, managing workload, tackling relationships, and much more. What you want to achieve is totally up to you.

However, the suggested process and tips are universal. You can alter them as per your aims, but for the most part, they will work in all scenarios.

1. Identify Your Thoughts

The first step to face your thoughts. This isn’t where you deal with them as such, but you only figure out which thoughts belong in which category.

As mentioned in a previous example, your work tasks can be one category.

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It is up to you to decide which thoughts to put together. You can go for a completely different style and compartmentalize based on deadlines instead of the nature of the thoughts.

One great way to create categories is to keep work and emotions separate. Relationships generally fall under emotions, too, but you can always keep them separate.

So, for emotions, you can distinguish negative and positive thoughts. Or, you can categorize them based on their history. Emotions that are attached to your childhood can be separate from emotions that you experience as an adult.

When it comes to compartmentalizing, it is important that you also let go. Do not hoard memories and thoughts. It is generally hard to do in the case of emotions, but you will get the hang of it with experience.

It is easier in the case of practical things. Let’s say you have a long to-do list. Tackle every task one by one and ask yourself three questions each time.

  • Do I love this task?
  • Can I do a great job fulfilling this task?
  • Does this task bring me any good?

If the answer to any one of the questions is yes, you have to deal with the task. If all answers are no, let it go.

2. Stick to Your Goals

Everybody has an aim in life. You either want to be more successful, more famous, richer, more peaceful, or something along those lines.

Whatever your goals are, stick to them. Any thoughts that stray you from your route should be let go of.

Thoughts that go hand in hand with your goals should be compartmentalized accordingly. So, ones that will help you the most in reaching your goal the quickest should be the easiest to reach in your brain.

3. Confront All Compartments One by One

Things that you do not want to deal with should not be a part of your mental thoughts. However, if you cannot let them go based on the two points mentioned above, you must deal with them.

No matter how far away you bury the compartments of these thoughts, you will have to enter and sort these rooms out eventually.

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Do not force yourself to do so. Build your courage, gain some strength, and then enter these rooms. Do not leave them behind unless you’ve achieved peace with these thoughts.

These can be haunting emotions from the past or work tasks that you absolutely hate to do. Either way, confronting them is the only healthy solution.

4. Focus on One Compartment at a Time

While it is important to deal with all compartments, it is also important to maintain mindfulness.

Only focus on one compartment at one time. Put your complete attention on this one room so that you can do the best job dealing with the thoughts inside.

One of the major goals of compartmentalization is to keep thoughts organized. If you’re not going to practice focus, your mind will still feel as jumbled as it did before.

5. Prioritize Logic, Not Emotions

All the 4 steps mentioned above are only useful if you prioritize logic over your emotions.

If you look at things emotionally, you will never find the true answers. You will let go of important things just because you disliked them. Similarly, you may hold onto thoughts that you like but aren’t useful for your goal in the long term.

Therefore, take a practical approach for beneficial results.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, there is no hard and fast rule on how to compartmentalize. Take guidance from this post and put it to use how you deem best for yourself. Get the most out of compartmentalization to live a better life for yourself and for those around you!

More Tips on How to Compartmentalize

Featured photo credit: Gabrielle Henderson via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

Time is a great leveler isn’t it? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Even if you’re self-assured, the day may never feel quite long enough.

Why is it that some people can be so much more productive and achieve so much more in a typical day, while others struggle to achieve anything apart from feeling time crunched and overwhelmed?

Everyone I know and work with wants to make the best use of their time. They want to learn how to be more self-assured, happier, and work less—all while growing in their career.

How effectively we use our time—and how we actually work in our business—can make a huge difference to the amount we accomplish in a day or week. It can also make us more focused and more confident.

Do you want to have more thinking and creative time? Do you want to spend more time working on your business rather than working at or in your business? In this article, we’ll show you how.

Get More Done by Gaining Confidence

What if you had a strategy for making the best use of your time that brings you more joy and allows you to focus on the biggest activities and opportunities in your business? You may find the following outline below to be helpful:

1. Create an Exciting Vision

If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?

You want to be more productive and spend more time getting the right stuff done. Well, you need to create a compelling and exciting vision of your future.

What does this future look like? How will you feel when you get there?

Creating a new vision, especially one that is a lot bigger than where you are right now, has a way of igniting your passion. It may be something that feels hard to achieve, but every step you take towards that bigger vision will certainly build your confidence.

Create a vision board to feel more self-assured.

    Commitment to this vision, and accomplishing continual daily progress depends on your ability to look at any situation you’re faced with or currently in, feel self-assured, and see something bigger ahead.

    Also, when you know where you’re headed, you will instinctively start to see all the new opportunities and connections that will get you there.

    Make a vision map to get you started on the path to better productivity. This doesn’t have to be fully actualized, but you should know at least what direction you are heading.

    2. Build a Strategic Plan

    Once you have your future vision mapped out, the next step is to build a strategic plan to get you there.

    Your future vision may be for 3 years or 5 years, or you may choose a longer time frame. Any timeframe over 3 years may feel like a long way away.

    You may wonder how you are ever going to feel confident and motivated on this bigger future years from now when you feel as though you have so much to accomplish today.

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    The first step is to decide on some specific goals for the next 12 months. Don’t list too many or you may begin to feel overwhelmed.

    The magic number for me and my clients is usually five annual goals.

    These are big goals that will create massive change in your business and life and bridge your current situation to your bigger future; accomplishing these goals one by one will help to increase your confidence on a daily basis.

    3. Get on Goal Planning

    Get yourself a piece of blank paper and a pen and divide the paper into 4 columns: A, B, C, and D.

    Ask yourself the question: What is great in my business and life right now? Write these things down in Column A. This might be a couple of things, five things, ten things, whatever feels right to you.

    Then ask yourself: What things are happening right now that I don’t want in my future? Write these things down in Column B.

    This is your opportunity to take a step back and look at the things that are simply not working. You may list people that are bringing you down or projects that you don’t want to work on any more. Maybe you’ll include a service offering that’s going nowhere. It could be the people you’re working with, or it could be your pricing.

    Now, let’s look at your personal strengths. Write down everything that you’re great at in Column C.

    These could be things that you’re doing right now and having success with. It could also be things you know you’re awesome at but you’re not spending enough time on.

    Column D is for your biggest opportunities. Is there a new service/product you could offer your ideal customers? Is there a new innovation you could bring to market? Just take some time out and really think and list these things in Column D.

    Once you’ve analyzed everything you’ve written down, take some time to really think about what goals you want to set for your business and life in the next 12 months.

    4. Set Outcomes to Build Confidence

    You now have your goals, and you’ll feel self-assured and raring to go. They are written down and you’re committed to achieving them. You feel self-assured and motivated.

    But how do you ensure that you stay on the correct course to achieve these goals?

    Managing and juggling day-to-day projects can get in the way. Dealing with problems can get in the way. Staying on top of orders, managing cash flow, and handling day-to-day stuff can move your ship off course.

    You want to be productive and achieve your goals, but you also need to ensure the day and week runs smoothly.

    One way to ensure this happens is to set 90 Day Outcome Goals; within those Outcome Goals, put some specific process goals that need to be undertaken.

    Let’s say you want to get 10 more speaking jobs in the next 90 days, and you know that you typically convert 50% of opportunities.

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    Therefore, your process goal needs to be to have 20 conversations in the next 90 Days to deliver the 10 new pieces of work. You will then work out who you can have those conversations with.

    It’s smart to overshoot, so you will more easily hit your target. This is a clear plan to work through because with every win, your confidence will grow.

    5. Completely Commit to Your Success

    If you are not truly committed to achieving your goals, then chances are that you won’t reach them.

    Motivation can only take you so far. It is the intentional commitment[1] and emotional investment in your future success that will move you forward.

    Think back to any time that you really committed to achieving something. There must have been a reason you actually achieved what you set out to achieve. What motivated you?

    Were you fully invested? Why did it matter? Did you have to be really courageous to achieve it?

    How did it feel when you achieved it? What difference did it make?

    When have you felt truly self-assured? When you are committed to something, then you are propelled into action. Your mindset is focused, and your body follows; you want to get it done.

    And, when you do get it done, your confidence goes through the roof. You feel a level of certainty in achieving the goal you set out to accomplish.

    6. Focus on Your Strengths

    To feel self-assured and build up the confidence needed to achieve our biggest goals, we need to focus on our strengths.

    What are you best at? What are your unique skills? You want to spend as much time as you can working in the areas that you’re great at.

    Multiply your strengths. These areas are where you add the biggest value. They often bring you the biggest amount of joy, and you feel more and more confident when you are using your unique skills.

    If you think there is a specific capability you need to learn or be better at, spend more focused time in that area.

    Many of us want to do it all. We want to be good at everything. We want to offer a lot of services. But, in reality, there are some very specific things we are great at; nobody is good at everything!

    Spending more time adding value in the areas where you excel can create breakthrough results and boost confidence.

    7. Embrace the Present

    Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about the future or worrying about the past that we forget the present moment[2].

    Are you spending most of your day reacting to things, or have you taken the time to think about what your perfect day looks like?

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    We all have the opportunity to create rather than react, to decide what we do with our day. All of our future success can be created in the present moment if we just take a step back and take action.

    Sometimes, doing it now is more important than doing it perfectly. There are hidden opportunities in every moment. We need to make sure we don’t miss them if we want to feel self-assured.

    8. Calm the Whirlwind

    The day-to-day life in business and life can be hard, which leads us to feel less self-assured.

    Your mind may be full to bursting with all of the things you feel you have to do. The phrase “I don’t have time” has almost become an instant reaction by so many people when new opportunities are presented.

    There is a whirlwind happening inside our minds.

    Appointments, notifications, tasks, phone calls, errands, cash flow, staffing issues, networking, marketing all can clutter up our timeline. The sheer volume of things we feel we should do creates procrastination, stopping us from pursuing the projects and people that matter.

    Many of us feel we have to do everything within our business.

    Rather than simplifying things and doing less, we do more. We work longer, which creates a lack of energy and focus. Because of this, we lose clarity on our biggest opportunities. If you feel this way, take some well-deserved time off.

    Look at where you’re spending your time. How much of your time is being spent moving your ideas forward?

    In the next 90 days, if you could delegate or outsource more daily tasks and spend more time focusing on where you add the biggest value, what difference would it make?

    Calm the whirlwind by slowing down and doing less.

    Focus on areas that you add the biggest amount of value. By doing this, your energy levels will increase, your confidence will grow and you will have more success.

    9. Take More Time off

    This may seem counterintuitive, but taking more time off to recharge and refocus can pay huge dividends.

    If you are constantly fighting fires and caught up in the myriad of different activities that you have to do each day, then how can you move your business forward?

    You may be being pulled in difference directions without any focused time on your biggest projects. If that’s the case, then it’s almost impossible to gain any real momentum in moving your business forward and hitting your goals.

    The best way to get off that treadmill is to take more creative time out of the business.

    Could you realistically take one day off per month to work on your business? If you could, what would you do with this time?

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    Just imagine no distractions, only focused time on the strategic development and growth of your business.

    Every day off per month could have a different focus: New product innovation; Thinking about your biggest clients; Improving operations.

    Add to this a quarterly review to check in with your goals progress, and this could have a dramatic effect on where you spend your valuable time.

    10. Celebrate Wins

    Sometimes you just want to get through the day, right?

    You have so much to do. There are so many things on your task list that you just complete what you can and then start another day. But what would happen if, at the end of each day, you took some time out to look at what you’ve accomplished?

    Celebrating success keeps you motivated and helps you become more self-assured. It is not just another day. It’s a day that included things that should be celebrated.

    If you’re struggling to feel motivated, try celebrating a couple of wins each day.

    Celebrating success combined with the gratitude you have for achieving those wins will boost your confidence and inspire you for the next day.

    11. Give Yourself More Space

    When was the last time you gave yourself time to think?

    Within the hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to give yourself a little bit of space and time to just think[3].

    Imagine giving yourself just an hour a day to just let your mind wander or think about a specific thing.

    If you think about it, we can all free up an hour a day for something without really losing any efficiency or really impacting our business.

    In fact, that hour could be transformational for your business and life.

    A new idea for a product could form, or an idea for adding value to your existing clients could materialize. Perhaps you could do a check in to your ideal future and your goals. You could decide that you want to take your business in a new direction.

    Try this: Just sit alone for an hour with a notebook and let it be your creative thinking time. See what happens.

    Final Thoughts

    Ultimately, being self-assured happens when you have a clear direction.

    This, coupled with having clear goals and working in your unique skill-set, gives you the biggest opportunity to be more productive and get more of the right things done.

    The old mantra that “less is more” is right on the money. By giving yourself more time to work on your goals, you will inevitably increase your confidence; at this point, your ideal future can be anything you want it to be.

    More on How to Be Self-Assured

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

    Reference

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