Luke Jones

All Your Stuff Is Stressing You Out

January 28, 2017

You’re at your happiest when you are free from as much stress as possible. A common cause of stress is having too much to do. I don’t just mean work, this could be side projects, books you want to read, an illustration you promised your friend you would do, or a pile of video games you just think you need to complete.

Listening to music, reading and watching movies are all healthy forms of relaxation, but a healthy balance is important. You might think that having more is better, you’re more likely to end up stressed out by it:

All of this choice has two effects, two negative effects on people. One effect, paradoxically, is that it produces paralysis, rather than liberation. With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all.

Barry Schwartz on The Paradox of Choice

Removing the clutter will clear your mind and make you feel better. You’ll be able to focus on the important things in your life and your work. To do this, identify what you need, what you don’t need, and prioritise. Be harsh on yourself. You may feel sentimental about that stack of books you’re never going to read, but there’s no pride to be had from an unread pile of books in the corner of your room. Question why you have anything.

When you’re thinking about buying a book, agreeing to do something that will take time, or starting a side project, evaluate the situation and think ‘is this going to have a positive effect on my life in the long term?’ If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’, then don’t do it. Give your brain a break.