One of the critical skills that I needed to survive my previous work was being able to compartmentalize. It took me a while to learn how to do this, and it all came down to creating daily missions and boxes. I had an overall mission of wanting to help others. I then broke that mission down to doing the best I could in each moment on each call. Once that call was over, I gave my full attention to the next one. Being present IN the moment with the goal of using my skills to help someone became my daily goal.
Each day I got into the patrol car, it became like a box. Within that box, my goal was to focus on the job and task at hand. If I was having issues outside of work, I agreed with myself that I would temporally set them aside until after work. I would basically put those issues in a box and agree to deal with them after work. Once the work day was over, I would address the issues at that time.
The mission might be updating a client or having to discuss a difficult issue. Whatever the task is, it can be very helpful to put distracting issues in a mental “box” so that you can better focus at the task at hand. Journaling can be very helpful with this. Writing down your daily tasks or steps as well as writing down those issues you will deal with after work can help you focus.
Have a good week, and reach out if you need.
Michael Hawkins, MA, LPC is a licensed professional counselor at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH). With almost 25 years of experience as a counselor, he works with clinicians, students, staff, and clients—compassionately attending to the human needs that arise in the practice of veterinary medicine. Counselor’s Corner is a blog devoted to that purpose. BACK TO BLOG