Simple Tips to Help Increase Organised Thinking and Reduce Unnecessary Stress (article)

by | Feb 15, 2023

Stress comes in many guises. Sometimes it is a feeling of pressure, sometimes it is a feeling of being trapped, often it involves dwelling on the past or catastrophising the future. Stress makes us feel a loss of control. We can feel like we are losing control of our thoughts, our feelings and our lives. Worry, fear and anxiety tend to lead to frustration, anger and annoyance. Stress comes from specific problems that we perceive we have. Sometimes these problems are absolutely real and sometimes they are exaggerated in our own minds. Sometimes the stress is coming from outside of us and sometimes it is entirely self-induced through a habit of fearful thinking.

Problems need solutions for the stress to be reduced or eliminated completely. Confusion, doubt and unanswered questions can linger as background stress. Finding solutions to problems requires clear thinking, logic, structure, creativity and adaptability. Finding solutions to difficult problems requires us to access our full intelligence. Stress is a powerful emotion and any emotion reduces access to our full intelligence. It is a function of our biochemistry that the stronger the feeling, the less clearly we are able to think. If we are to reduce stress and give ourselves the best chance to navigate our way through the challenges that life throws at us, there are skills we need to be aware of.

To reduce stress, we need to learn how to lower our emotion. To do that, we first need to be aware of when we are feeling emotionally aroused. Throughout society, stress, worry and frustration are accepted as common daily emotions. It is not unusual to hear people complaining and worrying and exclaiming how stressed they are or how stressful their day has been. We are surrounded by daily doses of stress which reinforce the sense that stress is entirely normal and to be expected. For many, this reaches a point where they realise their stress levels have become unsustainable where it is having a negative effect on many areas of their life, not least their health.

When someone realises stress has become a serious problem for them, they are forced to examine how this came about. Sometimes it comes from a sudden life change but often it is from a gradual accumulation, from bad habits eventually building up into a big problem. If we can gain more understanding, greater emotional intelligence, and learn and practise better habits, we can prevent small issues becoming larger ones in the future. There are many simple steps we can take to help inoculate ourselves against the harmful effects of stress and live a more peaceful life.

Stress is an uncomfortable feeling. Uncomfortable feelings are there to get our attention. They force us to focus our attention on a real or a perceived problem. Once the problem is solved, the uncomfortable feeling can go away and we can return to a feeling of peace. Feeling at peace is our natural state; it is the state to which all of nature is constantly working to return. Animals eat to satisfy a feeling of hunger, animals fight to get rid of a threat. When feelings have been responded to appropriately, the animal can return to peace.

The human animal is the most complex of all, living in the most complex of societies. Responding to every feeling in an instinctive, animalistic way is not appropriate in a civilised society. There are rules and codes of conduct which lead to responsibilities and allow us to have rights. For the most part, in a benign society, these laws and rules are all designed at heart to make us feel more secure and therefore give us more control which then means we should be able to live more in peace. In a complex society, there is much to think about but so much of our thinking is wasteful and poor quality.

The more we can learn to think clearly, the more we can keep our emotions in check. The lower the emotional arousal, the more clearly we can think. The more we can stop little problems becoming bigger ones, the less stress we will have. The more organised we can be with our thinking, the better we use our time. The better we use our time, the more in control we feel. The more in control we feel, the more peacefully we live our lives. If we treat life as precious and time as a gift, we can learn to be more discerning, careful and productive with the time we have.

We can better get our needs met if we learn to be more organised with our thinking, our attitude and our time. Whilst there are many ways to lower our stress levels, for example through exercise and doing activities that bring us pleasure, this article aims to focus on how to train ourselves to have a clearer, more organised mind. The following tips can help us be more structured day-to-day and therefore have a greater sense of control. This is one way we can help prevent those smaller problems building into larger ones which, if left unchecked, eventually force us to make drastic changes.


  1. Plan each day the night before: Write the things you need to do on separate cards and stack them in order of priority. The following day, start with the top card and tackle them one at a time until they are all completed. Keep a few blank cards for the unexpected. Doing this will give a powerful daily sense of achievement and productivity.
  2. Use the ‘do-it-now’ system: Don’t keep a pending tray if at all possible, either mentally or actually. Deal with emails, texts, etc at the first time of reading wherever possible. This is the most valuable of all time-savers. This means you are training yourself to become an instant decision maker. No more putting off and procrastinating.
  3. Speed-read: The simple action of trying to read faster can double the average reading speed. Scan for essential elements and bin junk instantly.
  4. Always do what you say you will do: If you don’t, your valuable time will be wasted by people chasing you up to find out why things haven’t been done. Putting them off just wastes more time. Don’t make promises unless you intend to keep them. Failing to do what you say you will do causes uncertainty, confusion and stress in others. Aside from not wanting to cause stress in others, eventually, being unreliable will come back to us and will then be a stress for ourselves.
  5. Be concise: Try to be clear and efficient with words. Try to make sure explanations are brief and to the point.
  6. Delegate willingly: Don’t take on everything yourself. Make other people feel important and needed by allowing them to do tasks that help free you up more.
  7. Stay focussed: Loss of mental focus accounts for almost a third of the time taken for tasks. Repeat the words ‘stay focussed’ whenever you feel a lapse coming on. It’ll soon become a habit that saves you hours.
  8. Solve problems immediately: They will arise, so don’t let them accumulate. It also makes sense not to cause them in the first place. Avoid arguing; it is time-wasting. If you have the power, make decisions and stick to them. If you don’t, compromise with good grace and move on as soon as you can.
  9. Set tight deadlines for yourself and others: Deadlines force people to perform at peak. When you set deadlines, carefully listen to your own and others’ responses. ‘Perhaps’ usually means ‘no’ and ‘I’ll try’ usually means ‘I won’t’. Get certainty from yourself and others.
  10. Keep a tidy space: A cluttered space wastes time. You can’t be efficient if you are more likely to lose stuff amongst clutter. Remember to maintain a do-it-now system so that clutter doesn’t build up. Living in a disorganised and cluttered space is symptomatic of a disorganised and cluttered mind.
  11. Plan ahead: Plan to use your time productively. Use time consciously: if you are working, then work; if you are resting, then rest; if you are playing, then play. Don’t work when you should be resting; don’t play when you should be working. Know when you need to rest and do it well.
  12. Concentrate on the small things: Saving small amounts of time here and there and getting those small tasks done can all add up to a big saving.
  13. Don’t say yes when you mean no: Think about how much you take on and why you are taking it on. Everyone has a limit. When you have a choice, if you are happy to do something then be happy doing it; if you are not, then don’t take it on.
  14. Never make the same mistake twice: Nothing wastes time like mistakes. Mistakes are good for us if we learn something from them. If we keep making the same mistake, we are wasting time and energy.
  15. Stay in the moment: There is no such thing as good worry. Worry is a misuse of our greatest tool – our imagination. Worry is either dwelling in the past, wondering ‘if only…, if only…’. Or worry is dwelling on the worst-case scenario of the future wondering ‘what if…? what if…?’. If you need to learn from a mistake, process it consciously and put it to bed. If you need to plan for the future, plan it consciously and put it to bed. Don’t waste time on needless worrying. Name your fears and deal with them.