EnQuire now
Prioritising Your Tasks and Putting Stressors into Perspective

Posted by admin 10:21 am, 1 June 2014

Whether you are a working parent, a University or school student, a single professional, unemployed, or a couple without children, everyone has to put their priorities in perspective. We all have weeks with bills and/or budgets (or pocketmoney) to consider, deadlines to meet, time to choose enjoyable activities and our health to upkeep. Some also have little ones to consider and prioritise while simultaneously trying to attend to your own needs.

I have a favourite parenting book that helps many of the families that I work with at Mindright. In this book it discusses a concept that I have generalised out to everyone that I work with (where appropriate) and has become a major consideration and strategy used by many clients.

I refer to it as “Basket A, B and C”

Basically, the idea is to prioritise your tasks or considerations into 3 baskets.

Basket A: Basket A is all safety based. It is an absolute must that the things on this list occur or be managed¬†without exception to remain safe. Some examples of Basket A might be safety on the roads (something that keeps presenting for my 2 year old who doesn’t realise the danger of running out of a shop near a road), physical aggression, strong suicidal ideation and/or intent, medical treatment for serious medical conditions, etc.

Basket B: Basket B relates to your values and areas of importance to you. It doesn’t impact on life or death but would impact on your medium to long term happiness and well-being if it wasn’t in your life. If it is in relation to a task needing to be completed, not completing this task would likely result in a negative meaningful outcome. Examples of Basket B may include paying outstanding accounts, respect in relationships, work/study ethic and effort, hygiene, exercise, potty training your child or managing behavioural patterns.

Basket C: Basket C is the relatively unimportant part of your life. It is not to say you shouldn’t have it or enjoy parts of what is on this list however in the grand scheme of life it is reasonably unimportant. Examples of things that I often recommend go into Basket C (depending on what the client is presenting with) include choice of one meal over another, ironing, a child picking his/her nose at the table, having a clean and tidy work desk, etc.

Once you know how to place each task or priority into a basket, you are in a position to put the stressor into perspective when it comes up. For example, if you are stressed and overwhelmed- can you negotiate a little on the Basket B side of things either by letting it slide for a week or just putting 50-60% effort into it for now to get what needs to be done done? Can you negotiate with your friend/partner/boss the time frame that these need to be done? If exercise is a basket B for you and there are many other things to get done that day- can you reschedule it for another day so that you don’t run yourself into the ground? If your child is behaving in a way that is undesirable, can you better manage your stress and frustration in that moment and take time to understand what the child is trying to communicate and to meet him/her halfway so that you support the child’s flexibility and progress over time rather than simply controlling that specific occasion?

It is rare that a client that the baskets are relevant to doesn’t find this strategy helpful.

Give it a go and manage your stress and priorities more effectively! Everyday you will be faced with a list of tasks to achieve so try to keep it all in perspective! Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Dr Michelle Pritchard