It is clear that mess causes stress. A lot of mess is simply unmade decisions. Instead of deciding where something should go or what to do with it you just put it in a pile for later to decide. A lot of times the decision you would make in the moment is the same decision you would make three months from now. Instead of making the decision you put the item aside thinking later you will take action. Often later doesn’t come until things get out of hand or you miss something like a deadline.

A great example of this is mail. Most of us have grown to hate mail because it involves taking action. A lot of times the action is simply to throw the mail away because much of it is unimportant. It is taking the time to check the pieces of mail to make sure you are not missing something that needs more action like a bill or a new credit card that needs to be activated. Instead we tend to dump the mail in a pile to look at later and the pile keeps growing as the weeks go by. It becomes a mess.

The same is true with other papers we accumulate. Instead is taking action such as tossing unnecessary paper, filing the paper or taking action related to the paper we simply set the paper aside to deal with later. Unfortunately, usually some pressure often negative has to occur to cause us to finally take action.

Paper and mail piles are just examples of the many types of messes we can accumulate. What we don’t often realize is that these messes are causing us stress. Maybe not in an “in your face” kind of way but they do cause stress. You see the messes and in the back of your mind you think “I need to take care of that.” But you don’t and that causes stress. It is a little bit a nagging feeling each time you see the messes or when you realize what you are looking for might be in one of the messes.

The key is to try and tackle messes before they become so stressful that you are overwhelmed and become so paralyzed you are unable to act. To deal with this try breaking off a small chunk of the mess and just deal with that and have a small success. Then you can either decide to keep going or come back to it another time or day. This takes some of the pressure off and negative feelings. Start pushing yourself to take action in the moment when you are inclined to just toss something aside. Most often it will take you just a few seconds to put it in the proper place.

You may not feel your messes are stressing you out but at some level they are, if only in the way back of your mind. It can be draining. So today take one mess and see if you can reduce it or maybe even remove it completely. Remember usually messes are piles of unmade decisions or are action not taken.