Man using queuing theory

Queuing Theory - relating it to everyday life

Queueing theory is the mathematical study of data from queues used to determine waiting times and improve service flow through a system.

And it can be relatable to you!

Centrelink recently adopted this technique, overhauling the three queuing options you were faced with every time you entered an office. You would line up in the queue based on the payment type you had. Consequently, people putting in a new claim form were in the same queue as people submitting fortnightly reporting forms. One taking no longer than five minutes, the other substantially longer.

Queueing Theory allowed them to abandon queues based on payment types and implement a queueing system based on the complexity of the service required:

  • Simple Tasks
  • Intermediate Tasks
  • Complex Tasks.

The result was such, that every Centrelink office became less crowded with clear lines of communication grouped by the complexity of the issue at hand.


“These same principles can be used in our daily lives to tackle many potential issues, tasks and responsibilities we all face.”


These same principles can be used in our daily lives giving us the perspective and momentum to tackle the many potential issues, tasks and responsibilities we all face.

Don’t try and tackle everything at once. Break things down into the three categories described above; simple, intermediate and complex.

This will give you a list of simple things you can complete relatively quickly, giving you the momentum and sense of achievement to then tackle the more intermediate and complex issues.

Sometimes, completing simple tasks can even assist with the completion of the more intermediate and complex tasks. A good example of this is found with potential relationship difficulties. Problems could arise from any number of issues including a lack of communication, absence of affection, drug use, gambling, money problems, problems with parenting, interference from others, even internet addiction. Putting them all together and trying to tackle them all at once is way too overwhelming.


We need to identify a starting point

A simple task could be to pay a compliment to your partner, or be genuinely interested in their day. Help out with domestic tasks, read the kids a bedtime story and plan some time with your partner to share an activity you both enjoy. These simple tasks can assist with improving communication, increasing affection and improving parenting all of which would sit in the intermediate or complex category.

The bigger issues are still there, but if improvements can be made in the relationship on the simple level, then there is a better chance of success when tackling the bigger relationship issues.


This is something you can do today

Break everything down in your life that needs addressing into simple, intermediate and complex categories. Remember, that even some intermediate and complex issues can be assisted by completing simple tasks. Think about what action you can take to address the simple issues, something achievable, that can be done today. Then, build on the momentum of completing a few of the simple tasks, followed by organising what you need to do, to work towards completing the intermediate and complex tasks.


If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, MensLine is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Call us on 1300 78 99 78 or access online counselling.

If it is an emergency, call 000.