Compartmentalise: Leave stress at the door

Compartmentalise: Leave stress at the door

As the name would suggest, compartmentalisation is the practice of dividing down your life and responsibilities in such a way as to maximise your quality of life. Problems can arise when the lines between what goes in the office and what takes place at home become blurred.

While the idea might sound simple enough, life never is! It can sometimes be hard to know how to ensure you are not bringing work - and all of the stress that might come with it - into your home. 

However, just a few simple techniques can help you to keep everything in perspective and seem far more manageable, which will ensure that when you get in from work, you are able to kick back and relax.

Identify the problems

When life feels like it is all getting a bit much and you find yourself increasingly unable to switch off when you come through the door at the end of a long day, it may be that you are letting yourself become overwhelmed. There is nothing worse than feeling like everything is getting on top of you and not knowing how to even begin addressing this.

To tackle this, you need to break down all of the different problems that may - consciously or subconsciously - be leading you to feel like you can't cope, no matter how insignificant they may seem to be. This includes everything from delivering an important pitch at work to letting the laundry pile up in your bathroom.

It may sound clinical, but sitting down and writing a list of potential problems can be a huge help. Make two columns - work and home - and identify everything that you have going on, rather like an elaborate to-do list. 

Once you have done this, pause to think about each item individually, in isolation from everything else. This should help you not only to work out how to address each task, but also to prioritise how you are going to tackle each one. Trying to do everything in one go will only end up with you feeling helpless and defeated, which will make it impossible to switch off in the evenings.

Know your limits

Regrettably, you will not be able to control everything. While you may be able to deliver that project by Friday or ensure you have bought a wedding present for your best friend by the weekend, you cannot change your boss' attitude to you or the fact you are on early shifts all of next week. 

What you can change is your response to these realities. You may find you take a great deal of comfort - and even empowerment - from taking back control over a situation that you initially felt helpless to master. 

Learning to manage your response and reaction to these situations will help you to feel more in control of your life, safe in the knowledge that some things really are just out of your hands and that is all part of life's rich tapestry.

On a similar note, you will need to learn to accept that another facet of that wily mistress we call life is that not everything will go your way. You will make mistakes and things won't go to plan. Rather than drowning in perfectionism, learn to swim with all of the other mere mortals.

Make time for number 1

It is vital that, when compartmentalising your life, you factor in the most important thing of all - your own happiness. Going for a walk with your partner, taking your child to swimming, finishing that painting you have been working on for weeks, setting aside time for that TV programme you love on a Sunday night - these should all be on your life to-do list because, believe it or not, they matter just as much as turning up for work in the morning.

If you factor the things you love out of your life, you will only push yourself further into isolation away from your own happiness and those closest to you. You never know, they may be just the people who help to keep you sane when your colleagues are driving you up the wall!

Learn how to say 'no' from time to time, identify responsibilities that you can perhaps afford to take out of your schedule and set aside time for doing what you love. 


Don't suffer in silence. If you are really struggling to leave your work locked in the office at night, speak to somebody about it. That might be your partner, a friend, a professional or even a supervisor - and talk through all of the above points with them. 

There will always be someone who can help, to ensure that you are able to live life to the full. Remember: we work to live, not the other way around.

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