Setting Tasks with Compassion, a simple stress reducing idea

Welcome. Setting tasks with compassion is the sixth article in a series on stress which aims to give you simple ideas for managing stress. Each article contains an idea to manage stress, a short explanation why it is helpful in managing stress and an exercise based on the idea. Then it is up to you to try it out over the week. To get the most out of this series, write down how each exercise is working for you in managing your stress.

Quick re-cap

Stress Reducing Ideas – Idea 1 – Cultivating Gratitude
Stress Reducing Ideas – Idea 2 – Becoming Mindful
Stress Reducing Ideas – Idea 3 – Altruistic Acts
Stress Reducing Ideas – Idea 4 – Socialising
Stress Reducing Ideas – Idea 5 – Hydration

This week’s idea is Setting Tasks with Compassion

Stress Reducing Ideas – Idea 7 – Be Optimistic


When we are stressed it is easy for daily tasks to feel overwhelming. We may be running from work to other commitments and not have the time for extra tasks. We might be too busy to sort mail, do our banking, file our emails, reply to messages, arrange dental appointments, rsvp to invitations etc. Over time the build up of these tasks can become too much for us to even start to sort out. This can lead to further stress, for example if we miss a bill or payment and incur further charges or miss a loved one’s birthday.

Making a daily to do list can help some people but others find this more stressful as inevitably there will be more on the list than is possible to do in a day and we are at risk of feeling overwhelmed or criticising ourselves for not doing it all. For those of us who find to do lists helpful, it is about setting realistic timeframes for each task and setting aside the time to do each one. It is also about being flexible and compassionate toward ourselves. It is important to congratulate ourselves when we complete a task and recognise our achievement.

When we don’t manage to complete a task or we come across complications, we try not to criticise ourselves but instead show self-compassion. We acknowledge what we have done and create a new list for another day with a new timeframe. We may need to problem solve and break down a task into smaller steps to help us overcome complications or challenges we may face when trying to complete a task.

For those of us who really don’t like lists, we might find sending an email to ourselves can help us to acknowledge what needs to be done. This can be helpful to visual the tasks ahead and give us thinking time for when we are going to do them. Talking to someone and saying out loud what we need to do can help us to focus on the task and set the time aside to do it. Some of us just need a bit of head space to think about setting tasks.

How you set tasks is personal to you. There is no right or wrong way and each is effective depending on your preference. What is important is setting tasks with compassion.

Exercise in Setting Tasks with Compassion

Think of a task that you have been putting off. Either by writing it down, typing, talking or thinking in your mind. Acknowledge with understanding and compassion the barriers or reasons it is has been difficult to do this task. Now brainstorm solutions to complete this task. You might want to break down the task into manageable steps with a realistic timeframe to complete each step. Maybe you just want to think or list the first step and concentrate on that step before thinking too far ahead of yourself.

Now, with compassion say to yourself that you are further on with completing this task than you were before and congratulate yourself for no longer putting it to the back of your mind. Set aside the time when you can to complete the first step and congratulate yourself when you complete this step. Show compassion and understanding if you are not able to complete the first step and brainstorm solutions. Again acknowledge you are further on with completing this task than you were before you started. Keep going and you will get there. Everyone who made it to the top, started with a first step.

If you have enjoyed reading this article please like and share. I will introduce you to another stress managing idea – Be Optimistic next week. Until then have a good one.

Thank you to Luke Bennett Photography for this week’s feature image.

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