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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Compartmentalize for Enhanced Productivity

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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 9, 2021

The Ultimate List of Deep Focus Music for Productive Work

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The Ultimate List of Deep Focus Music for Productive Work

Everyone has their favorite habits for boosting productivity. Your desk setup, morning routine, and diet all play a role. But there’s one thing that everyone agrees can make a difference: focus music.

Soothing beats can keep distractions at bay, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Whether you’re trying to drown out mowers or simply get into a groove, put on a pair of headphones. Music can make all the difference in your focus.

With that said, not all music is equally conducive to productivity. You need to be careful about what you listen to. Getting work done calls for very different sounds than getting a workout in.

If you need a little more help to get rid of distractions, check out Lifehack’s free guide End Distraction And Find Your Focus. In this guide you’ll learn the simple techniques to stay focused and boost productivity. Grab your free guide here.

This article will walk you through selecting the best music for productivity, as well as a list of tunes to help you get started.

How to Pick the Best Focus Music For Yourself

With so many genres and artists out there, there’s a lot of music to choose from. Before you press play, keep the following guidelines in mind:

1. Stick With Instrumental

Songs without words in them make it easier to focus. Lyrics can distract you from what you’re trying to accomplish because you might get the words mixed up with what you’re trying to read. If you’re writing something, you might find yourself typing the lyrics instead.

Intelligence and instrumental music are correlated, perhaps because instrumental music is less intrusive.[1] Instrumental music tends to fade into the background, giving you a rhythm without pulling your mind away from the task at hand.

Stay away from instrumental versions of songs you recognize. It’s easy to fill in the blanks with the lyrics if you’ve already committed them to memory.

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However, some exceptions can be made. Creatives who produce videos or audio might prefer tracks that get their creative juices going, lyrics and all. However, if you find lyrics to be distracting, switch back to instrumental tunes.

2. Take It Easy

Not all instrumental music is calm and relaxing. Focus music should be, however. So, beware of instrumental songs that are too loud and stimulating. High volumes and tempos can work you up when you need to stay calm.

Again, some roles can make exceptions. Physical laborers can use more rambunctious tunes to keep them energized. While calm tunes work best for those in desk-based roles, don’t go too extreme. Something that’s too soothing might make you feel tired, and yawning all day isn’t exactly the path to productivity.

3. Pick Music You Enjoy

At the end of the day, the best focus music is what you enjoy. If you hate classical music, don’t put together a classical playlist just because you stumbled on a study about its benefits.[2] Your dislike of the music will take away the productivity you’d otherwise get out of listening to it.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. If you’ve never worked while listening to jazz before, why not? Save songs you like for later listening. Over time, you’ll build a playlist of tried-and-true focus music.

4. Update Your Setup

Before jamming out to your productivity tunes, make sure you have the right equipment. Invest in a music streaming service so you don’t have to listen to ads. Purchase noise-canceling headphones to avoid distracting your co-workers.

Focus music is all about ambience. Anything that interrupts your flow—whether that’s poor sound quality or glitchy streaming—needs to go.

Expect to spend at least $100 on headphones or speakers. For the streaming service itself, Spotify Premium is the standard at $9.99 per month. Slacker, Apple Music, and YouTube Music are also popular.

Building Your Perfect Playlist of Focus Music (With Recommendations)

Now that you know what to look for in focus music and how to listen, it’s time to build your playlist. Get started with these smooth, instrumental genres, artists, and songs.

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1. Chillhop Music

This YouTube channel has almost 3 million subscribers. Its music videos run 24/7 and feature driving yet relaxing beats.

Most songs on this channel fall into a category called “lofi hip hop,” a type of electronic R&B. Unlike traditional hip hop, lofi hip hop songs follow a slow, steady pattern that induces focus and relaxation.

Chillhop playlists can also be streamed on Spotify, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp. Popular artists include nymano, No Signal, and Sleepy Fish.

2. Andy McKee

Andy McKee is an acoustic guitarist who became famous after “Drifting,” one of his early songs, went viral on YouTube. “Drifting” exemplifies the creative, quiet guitar techniques found in the rest of McKee’s music.

Today, McKee has six albums of primarily acoustic guitar. One of McKee’s most popular pieces, “Rylynn,” is a perfect example of his soothing yet upbeat sound.

3. John Butler Trio

The band John Butler Trio became popular after releasing “Ocean,” a 2012 hit with more than 50 million listens on YouTube.[3] Heavy on acoustic guitar, “Ocean” is an intricate ballad that ebbs and flows like the ocean itself.

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Known for flowing changes in key and mood, the John Butler Trio proves that fast songs can stand in as great focus music. The group’s long songs—“Ocean” is 12 minutes long—are less disruptive for long projects. Two other favorites by John Butler Trio are “Betterman” and “Spring to Come.”

4. Classical Radio on Pandora

Classical music has long been a staple for music lovers looking to get work done. Pandora’s classical station features a great mix, from Beethoven to modern artists like Maria Callas and Jorge Bolet.

Pandora has radio stations for every genre imaginable. You can generate playlists based on genre, artist, or even a specific song.

Other music apps offer similar playlists and radio stations you can turn to for your classical music fix. From piano-heavy tunes to violin concertos, you’ll find plenty to perk up your ears.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack

Movie soundtracks are full of amazing focus music. One of my favorites is the Pirates of the Caribbean series, which is lively and adventurous but not in your face.

If you like what you hear, Hans Zimmer, the mastermind behind the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, has worked on a huge array of films. Zimmer also put together the soundtracks for The Dark Knight, Interstellar, and Inception.

One thing to watch out for with cinematic music is associations. As iconic as the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack is, if you’re thinking about Jack Sparrow instead of balancing spreadsheets, you should probably switch to a new song.

6. Legend of Zelda Soundtrack

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Another hotspot for instrumental music is video games. If you’re not sure where to start, check out selections from The Legend of Zelda.

Anyone who’s played The Legend of Zelda games will immediately recognize what they hear. The soundtrack is light, airy, and full of awe. Keyboards, harps, and flutes feature prominently.

Although you could spend hours listening to The Legend of Zelda music, don’t forget about fan-produced songs in this genre. The video-gaming community is robust, and instrumental re-creations of your favorite games’ soundtracks can be found all over the internet.

7. Nature Sounds and White Noise

This genre may be too relaxing for some, but others prefer less structured focus music. Sounds like thunder, wind, and rushing water can transport you to a quiet, idyllic place to get work done.

One type of white noise to avoid is city-related sounds. Even without lyrics, honking horns or chattering crowds can be distracting.

An advantage of this type of focus music is that it can be set on a loop. If you find a track you like, go ahead and put it on repeat. When it starts over, you won’t even notice.

Ready, Set, Play

The best part about focus music is that nothing is off-limits. Some people work better listening to Tom Petty tunes than instrumental music, and that’s okay. What’s important is that it’s motivating without being distracting.

To unlock your next tier of productivity, spend a couple of hours clicking around on your favorite streaming music site. You’ll get more done, and best of all, you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

More Tips to Improve Your Focus

Featured photo credit: Lala Azizli via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] New York Post: Smarter people listen to instrumental music: study
[2] Forbes: Does Classical Music Help Our Productivity?
[3] YouTube: Ocean – John Butler – 2012 Studio Version

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