There are plenty of studies that show messiness and clutter create stress. With this in mind, it’s not hard to make the leap to say a mass of disorganized tasks also creates stress. Here are eight ways that clutter (or mess) causes stress. These come from an article by Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D.
- Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.
- Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
- Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
- Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
- Clutter makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
- Clutter creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or workspaces.
- Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brainstorm, and problem solve.
- Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g., files and paperwork lost in the “pile” or keys swallowed up by the clutter).
Beginning to see a correlation?
Let’s replace Disorganization with disorganization and see how it reads now.
- Disorganization bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.
- Disorganization distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
- Disorganization makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
- Disorganization constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
- Disorganization makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
- Disorganization creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or workspaces.
- Disorganization inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brainstorm, and problem solve.
- Disorganization frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g., files and paperwork lost in the “pile” or keys swallowed up by disorganization).
The effects of being disorganized are far-reaching, as illustrated by this simple replacement of words exercise. But I am guessing you already know this. What is it that can lead to disorganization? Here are a few factors:
- Too many demands on your time at home and at work.
- No clear signals as to what is most important.
- Picking up more work due to restructuring, retirements, etc.
- Disorganization on the part of coworkers and bosses.
- Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what has to be accomplished.
It is a global problem
American workers put in a lot of hours on the job, and according to an article from Fairleigh Dickinson University, three out of four Americans reported being stressed by their work. It isn’t just here in the US. According to the United Nations’ International Labor Organization, it is a global epidemic.
Stress leads to a whole raft of problems for the people, their employers, and their families. Most countries have laws in place, limiting the number of hours people can be required to work, but, those laws typically apply to blue collar workers. White collar workers put in a lot more time.
How BubblesPlanner can help
If you doubt that time, task, and project management are important issues to people, do an internet search or pay a visit to the nearest bookstore. It garners tremendous attention. There are more techniques, systems, and solutions than you can shake a stick at.
Unfortunately, when it comes to solutions, especially software-based, the user has to adapt their working style to match what the software allows. I agree that adapting how you work is an essential requirement to break out of the cycle of disorganization. That is a part of learning any new skill, change what you are doing that isn’t working.
Where most software tools break down is in their rigidity and complexity. Yes, many are extremely powerful and capable. But the learning curve is steep and painful. If you try and master some of these apps while struggling with what you already have to accomplish, you are likely to give it up as a bad job. And in many cases, the tools are not user-friendly. Sure, if you are a programmer or code fanatic, many are quite appealing. But most workers are neither of those.
BubblesPlanner was developed for use by freelancers and other busy professionals by freelancers. It is designed to address the realities of the modern workplace based on input from real users. As a result, it is both powerful and easy to use.
It also uses a unique visual representation of tasks to help users immediately recognize what is most important. Consider it an automatic prioritization system. When you create a task, you assign it a label (typically something related to a specific deliverable) and a color. These help you group like tasks and spot them quickly. Lots of task management solutions do this.
Where BubblesPlanner breaks away from the rest is with the use of different sized circles, or bubbles (hence the name) to represent the level of effort a task requires. Setting this when the task is created sets the size of the bubble. Check out how it looks:
The tasks are listed down the left-hand side of the Planner View. The task I created for researching and writing this article is at the top (see the yellow arrow), and it shows up as a bubble in the Week 1 pane (see the second yellow arrow).
Every task I have to complete in Week 1 and their bubbles are displayed. I can move the bubbles around with my mouse to arrange them in any manner I want. Right now, I am using the Freestyle template. If I like, I can use a template for a particular management methodology. These templates superimpose a grid on each pane. You can group your tasks in the sections of the templates to create a precise prioritization of your work. Templates include Kanban, GTD, and others.
Tip: Be sure to use BubblesPlanner for family and personal tasks as well. You’ll see some in my screenshot. These things have to be done like the stuff for work. Organize and manage them with the same ease as work-related tasks. You’ll reduce some of your personal life stress as well.
Making BubblesPlanner work for you
Now let’s take some time to show how BubblesPlanner addresses all eight ways disorganization causes stress as listed at the start of this article.
1. Bombards us with excessive stimuli
Stuff piled everywhere, constant interruptions, changing demands, perpetuate disorganization by making us focus on things we don’t need to. BubblesPlanner lets you organize your work, allowing you to block out a lot of the distractions.
2. Draws our attention away from what we should focus on
This is similar to number one but is subtly different. If you have a long list of to-dos that grows every hour, you will struggle to pick the most important one and do it first. BubblesPlanner allows you to organize with ease. Know you know at a glance what should be done first.
3. Makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally
When you feel in control, you can relax, at least a bit. BubblesPlanner gives you control over nearly every aspect of each task.
4. Signals our brains that our work is never done
Sure, check marks on a list are a helpful indicator of progress. With BubblesPlanner, when you complete a task, it can be hidden from view. The app also allows you to set a level of completion. Now you can see progress everywhere.
5. Makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile
With BubblesPlanner, you set the level of effort, enter the due date, and arrange them in the Planner View to match priority, importance, and so forth. You clearly see what it is going to take to get through everything.
Here’s a tip, maybe you can’t get through everything in a single day. Use the Planner View to lobby for help from your boss or, to justify not taking on new assignments. Pull up the view, display the bubbles, and ask which you can delay. Slide the bubble to the new due date screen. Pretty effective communication tool.
6. Creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment
These feelings may or may not apply in the workplace. Typically, being disorganized is merely frustrating. BubblesPlanner tames the chaos for you and puts everything you need to manage tasks and projects at your fingertips.
7. Inhibits creativity and productivity
When you rely on BubblesPlanner to keep track of the details of each task, you aren’t going to worry about things falling through the cracks or not know what to do first. Less stress lets us all think more clearly and creatively.
8. Frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly
This is one of the key features of BubblesPlanner, everything related to the completion of a task is contained within the app and accessible from the task. Weblinks, notes, chats, documents. If you used it to complete the task, you can go get it again in a flash.
Nothing is stored in a different folder, on a network share, or elsewhere if you do not want it to be. We have all experienced the frustration of having to hunt for a file out on the network to complete a task. That can be a thing of the past with BubblesPlanner.
For example, everything I used to develop this article is accessible from the task itself. The two screenshots below show some of the text I grabbed for reference and the links of websites I visited. Whenever I want or need to go back, it will be a piece of cake.
We can all agree that the workplace demands create stress. Disorganization makes it worse. BubblesPlanner can alleviate much of that stress and allow you to get things done efficiently and effectively. It also allows you to prioritize your efforts to produce maximum results. Getting started is easy. Check out the app at www.bubblesplanner.com.