Compartmentalisation

Psychology defines compartmentalization as a defense mechanism, or a coping strategy, which doesn’t impart a very good connotation. Put simply, it’s how our minds deal with conflicting internal standpoints simultaneously.

Compartmentalizing is something that doesn’t usually come easily to people. You can see this in the way people will bring problems from home to work, let that affect their performance and vice versa. For some not so strange reason, I seem to have the opposite problem. My life is compartmentalized in so many segments that I find it difficult to allow them to mesh together. Maybe that’s also the reason I challenged myself last year to allow a disintegration in the boundaries, to mesh in all the different parts and build a new collage of the different parts.

Compartmentalizing is good, as long as you can handle it. To compartmentalize is to shove something in a box in your mind. It isolates the issue, allowing you breathing space, to get back to it with a cool head, a certain sense of detachment if you will, that allows you to approach it in a new way. In my own experience, this detachment has allowed me more flexibility and find more solutions, it’s probably the reason that I can come up with a Plan A, B, C and D to most any situation.

Compartmentalization however doesn’t work if you are trying to run away from issue, to avoid dealing with them. You do not get to shove things in a box in your mind and pretend like you have forgotten them. The issues don’t leave, resolve and in the back of your mind, you know that they exist. In extreme cases, this denial can lead to disassociate disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The reason I do it is automatic but it’s a skill like every other that we acquire. Being able to compartmentalise can help you to achieve more, be more effective and efficient. It allows me to do a 40 hour week, my two volunteer work, one full time evening masters. There is no end to how much more you can handle. Anyone can train themselves to be anything, us humans have unlimited potential, if we focus on expanding our potential.

And that applies to humans too 😉

This is not a new phenomena infact a vast majority of us do practice it daily. For example, you might go home, see your kid smile at you and completely forget the stress you carried over from work.It’s what people talk about when they say that they want more work-life balance. It’s what allows multi-taskers to be effective. Leaders to stay on top of all the varied things that go on under them in an organization, team or league. It is our unconcious mind protecting us automatically from being overwhelmed. 

If you would like to use the process of compartmentalization in a concscious and effective way, then I suggest the following steps:

1. To effectively compartmentalize, isolate the issue. Don’t confuse one thing with another. Be very clear on what you are isolating.

2. Once the issue/problem/riddle is isolated, focus on it. Really focus on it. Place that issue on the table in front of you like a rubics cube and look at it from all angles. BUT do this only for short periods of time.

3. Once you have analysed a problem, you can then start working on a solution. A little bit at a time.

4. Once the problems been handled, close the compartment. The problem existed, you handled it. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t file it away somewhere in the back of your mind in order to return to it over and over again. You have already given it your full attention. You have already solved the issue at hand to your best possible ability. Now close it and be done with it.

5. Learn to say “no”. Get comfortable saying “no”. Prioritize your time and your attention. While there are unlimited supplies of problems, both at home and at work, you as a human however only have a limited supply of energy and time to devote to them. So learn to get comfortable saying “no” to things that have no business in your life. And once you have said no, move on. These do not have to be filed or compartmentalized in order to be handled at a later time. It’s like cleaning your PC when it gets virus infected. You purge and reboot 🙂

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Posted on February 7, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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