Every “mess” in your life creates additional stress.
I define a “mess” as any incomplete task, obligation, or other unresolved commitment.
Think of each “mess” as a program running on your computer.
As you know, if you run too many programs at once on your computer (even tiny ones), eventually the computer slows down. It begins to perform at less than optimum levels.
Sometimes it even crashes.
Your brain works the same way. Keep too many programs open simultaneously, and at best your mind slows down. You become forgetful, edgy, irritable.
At worst, you “crash”.
When human beings crash, it shows up as depression, anxiety, and dysfunctional relationships. It shows up as totally irrational decisions that are self-destructive.
If you want to reduce the likelihood of a crash, one of the best things you can do is to clean up your messes.
Here’s one way to do that:
First, write down all your messes. You cannot clean up what you are not aware of. Write down everything that you think of that qualifies as a mess. It could be the book you promise to drop off at your brother’s house, the oil change you need to have done your car, or the argument you had with your parent that you need to apologize for. Big or small, a mess is a mess.
Now write down what needs to happen to clean up each mess. There’s no need to write an essay for any of this. A few evocative words will do wonders and serve the purpose. For instance, if the mass is something to do with an argument you had with your mom, and you know you need to apologize, your entry might be as simple as “apologize to mom”.
Then start cleaning up your messes. I recommend starting with the small, easy ones. Getting a few quick victories under your belt gives you emotional momentum. If it will take less than two minutes, clean the mess up right now. The more of these messes you can clean up, even if it’s several tiny ones, the better you will feel. You’re probably not aware of how much bondage you are under to these tiny psychological “programs” that are running in the background of your mind.
If it will take longer than two minutes, schedule the cleanup of each mess in your calendar. Putting it in your calendar as an appointment dramatically increases the likelihood you will actually do it. And once you’ve gone through the entire list in either cleaned up the mess, or schedule the cleanup, you will feel incredibly light. The burden will have been lifted.
This may sound silly, and even a bit “touchy-feely”, but if you just trust me on this and give it a try I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Question: How many messes can you clean up today?