By Ashlee McDowell
OT and Mental Health specialist Ashlee McDowell from Engage Occupational Therapy provides some strategies to help minimise the stress we feel from the mental load of a never-ending to-do list.
It can be incredibly easy to be overwhelmed by all the things you need to do. Instead of one long list, make quadrants.
For each item, decide on its urgency and importance.
1. Address the ‘urgent and important’ first. These are the important emergencies. This is not where you want to live your life. However, these need to be urgently addressed (and prevented).
2.Then the ‘not urgent and important’. This is the planning, organisation and scheduling.
3. Address the ‘urgent and not important’. These are interruptions. They are someone else’s emergency. They are not YOUR important tasks!
4. Lastly, address the ‘not urgent and not important’. These are just distractions.
SO HOW DO WE INTEGRATE THIS?
I find a lot of parents who have children with disabilities have an insurmountable list of tasks. So, having another ‘thing’ to do can add to the overwhelm, and is unable to get done.
Ask yourself the following –
• How you best function, and what works best for your household. For example, do you prefer whiteboards, or an app on your phone?
• Choose a medium, then create 4 to-do lists – one for each of the aforementioned quadrants.
If there are two parents who each are involved in managing their child’s disability, then make sure both parents have access to the format you choose.
If a therapist provides activities, homework, or parent coaching, ask them the same questions “I’m wanting to add this to my to-do list. To make sure I have this is in the right spot, can you let me know how important &/or urgent your advice is?”
To help you remember everything, you can ask your therapist to write down their advice in an email or a piece of paper during the session. Even better, you can pull up your to-do list and write it directly on the list during the session.
When you feel like you’re missing something, you can even pull out your to-do list, and ask “This is my list of things to-do. Is there anything missing?”
By compiling and segmenting tasks, you can prioritise and gain some headspace back!
You can contact Ashlee at: