Four different pictures of a woman wearing a hat

How compartmentalization can make your life better?

I ascend (stepping onto my Soapbox).

A frequent outcome of my casual conversations is a comment or word that lingers in my mind days later. It usually sparks my curiosity because it has some relatable context. The word that emerged during a memorable conversation was “Compartmentalization.” Watch Shellie Soapbox Random Thoughts Podcast, Episode 4 for my perspective and/or continue reading below.

The word of the day: Compartmentalization

“Men are better at compartmentalization than women.” During a conversation with five women and men, a person boldly stated. The gross generalization was their explanation for men being able to have multiple intimate relationships simultaneously. “They manage each separately without concern about how one might impact the other and can behave differently in each,” they added. Another person agreed and stated, “This also applies to their work and home relationships.” As you can imagine, that set off a long and entertaining debate.

I walked away curious about the concept, especially the ability to manage every area of life separately. I appreciated the explanations from my acquaintances, but I wanted to learn more about compartmentalization.

The Harvard Business Review article Break Through Your Mental Bureaucracy notes that psychologists define compartmentalization as a defense mechanism to avoid the anxiety arising from the clash of contradictory values or emotions.

Applying this newly found term to my life

The categories in my life are not a clash of contradictory values or emotions. However, it can get difficult being all things to many people at once. How can I compartmentalize so I can meet all my life’s demands? Not meet perfection but feed each of the following categories adequately:

  • God and my local church
  • Family
  • Work
  • Online classes
  • Friends
  • Me (alone time)

Break Through Your Mental Bureaucracy author Ron Ashkenas states, “We all deal with the world by putting information and behaviors into different compartments. But loosening the boundaries between those compartments can often be a powerful way to get things done.”

Yes, compartmentalization is a thing. I’m figuring out how to apply and use it for positive outcomes.

What do you think?

Do you have any experience effectively categorizing and managing areas of your life? Comment below or send an email to Remember: Please be respectful.

I descend (stepping off my Soapbox).



Shellie Soapbox Podcast & Blog series

Sharing my random thoughts and perspectives through blogs and podcasts. Ice cream lover.