You know those slippery mercury balls inside old-style thermometers? How impossible they are to catch and hold onto? That's how hard I find it to compartmentalize. I'm a good multi-tasker and I'm organized, but for the most part everything else in my life bleeds together, which can be exhausting.
Is it a male thing? (every guy I know seems to be good at it) Or is it personality driven? Either way, I'm bad at it. Example: I hate watching the news, because if there's been a catastrophe somewhere (a shooting, a kidnapped child, a fire) it'll stay in the periphery of my thoughts for days afterward, upsetting me.
I like this explanation: a fellow author (who's published a dozen novels, half of them NYT bestsellers) told me she believes most writers feel things at a different level, that we have the ability to examine all the events around us in a camera-like fashion, record them in our subconscious with startling detail, and can then effectively draw them out (along with the emotions associated with each event) when we're writing.
Sounds plausible, but I think it's also a personality driven trait.
What about you?