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How to Compartmentalize

With all the things going on in our world today sometimes it can be hard to find time for a break. Our minds are being constantly stimulated, more so now at this time of year. If you are not cognizant of your own needs for stability you can run the risk of burnout or sheer mental exhaustion. One way to keep yourself from being overwhelmed this season is to develop your compartmentalization skills.

To compartmentalize means to divide something up into different categories. Think of it like a house with different rooms in it, only in this case, the house would be your mind, and the different rooms would be the things that you allow yourself to give attention to.

Think of your life like a busy street that you are walking down. Ultimately, you decide whether or not you pay attention to the cars passing buy, the shops around you, or the people you could potentially bump into. You could also choose to solely focus on getting to your destination. So is the case with compartmentalizing; You are choosing to give the totality of your focus to the various moments of your life that matter.

This is an important skill to have on a myriad of levels. It shows you what you consider valuable in your life, it helps with problem solving, it can improve your interpersonal relationships, makes you more productive, and it helps you live in alignment. I know it can be a struggle to separate work from home these days, especially because for a lot of us work is home, however, with this skill, and these techniques, you can begin to improve your quality of life where ever you are.

1. Know your Triggers

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What gets you upset? What makes you uncomfortable? Are there things that you are actively concerned about? Often times these things can be reoccurring, they can stem from a certain place or environment, or they can pop up in a real time situation. Your triggers are the first thing you need to identify because they cause distress.

Your goal in trying to progress through your day should be not tripping over any obstacles. That is not to say that obstacles will not appear, but rather, when they do you have the ability to overcome them. Now, let’s be real for a moment, sometimes overcoming a road block means going the other way – and that’s okay, you do not have to scale every mountain; The purpose here is about being intentional in the ones that you do.

2. Prioritize

Are your priorities in order? After handling your trigger(s) the next thing that you should be looking to do is the thing that will progress your day to the next point. Your priorities should be things that matter to you and have a clear and distinct order of importance.

Your priorities reflect what you value, and what you value is reflected in where and how you spend your time. Time of course, is your most important commodity. So essentially, you should be giving your time to things that matter most in descending order.

Another valuable thing to do is to develop a routine around your priorities. Most of us have a core group of activities that we do consistently throughout the week. Building a regimen around those essential activities helps you to transition through your day smoothly. It also becomes a fail safe for you to be able to revert to the next part of your ‘routine’ to help you continue through your day. 

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3. Be Adaptable

One thing to always keep in the back of your mind is the fact that life happens. Sometimes things will take place that are out of your control. When that happens keep a cool head about you. Remember the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Being able to meet the needs of the moment is a survival skill. You have to be able to identify direction. Do you know where you are going? If you know your purpose, then the way you get there is not as important. Living in alignment is about doing what meets your present need, the way you do that is through adapting. Being able to address the needs of your life and adapt to them will make you more effective and impactful.

4. Be intentional

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The idea here is that you want to do things on purpose with purpose. Intentionality is an essence. It is a concern about your passion. A compassion about your plight and the plight of others. It should cause you to want to act in a way that will make a situation better.

The purpose for intentionality is understanding. People do not pay attention to what they do not value. What is important to you? Discovering whether or not you are intentional in a certain activity will reveal what is valuable to you. Once you have learned what matters to you the next step is to do that activity with diligence and excellence.

You want to be present. Doing something with purpose means doing it for a reason. The goal of compartmentalization is to help you get through your day while reducing the probability for unhealthy stress. There has to be a need and perceived solution. That perceived solution can change, remember, the vehicle does not matter. The function of what you do however, should be to get you to an end destination.

Do not do stuff just to do it. Not only is compartmentalization unhelpful in that lifestyle, but also there are only two directions you can go in life: forward or nowhere. Actively choosing not to progress is counter intuitive to the design of life – and to progress you must be going towards something, not meandering.

5. Keep your Eye on the Prize

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What are your goals? A goal is something you hope for- A reason to get out of bed in the morning. The value in having goals is that they help you direct your life. The Bible says that without vision the people perish. You must be able to see the mountain top, the car, the millions of dollars, the new home, the beautiful family, whatever it is. And it does not have to be that deep, sometimes your goal could be just to make it back to your bed in one piece by the end of the day. That is okay too.

A goal just gives you something to strive for. I think people do not strive for enough in their life. Or, they allow their dreams to die, settling for what they already have. You are a spiritual being having a physical experience meaning, that your desires would not have been put in you if they were not meant to be fulfilled through you. When you have a prize big enough on display, you cannot help but to notice it every day. A true goal/passion will play through your head like a movie on constant rerun. You should be infatuated with the promise on your life. In doing so you motivate yourself to be better today than you were the day before.

Compartmentalization is a great skill to develop in your life. It keeps you on track, helps you navigate your world, and it helps you navigate yourself. The idea behind this skill is that you are giving yourself over to what needs you in the moment. This does not mean you become distracted and wishy washy, quite the opposite; When you compartmentalize you become more effective because you choose with intention what you give your attention to. You allow your priorities to inform the narrative of your day.

Through identifying and confronting the road blocks in your life, having your priorities in order, being able to adapt to whatever life may throw at you; Doing things on purpose with purpose, and keeping your eye on the prize; you can develop your own compartmentalization skills.

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