Published on ADDitudeMag.com

We Interrupt This Program...

How to tackle that impervious to-do list without falling prey to monster distractions.

by Bill Mehlman


Most ADHDans would probably put prioritization near the top of their lists of problematic areas. (Yes, that's one of those lists we make and never look at again, but that's another story.)

I'm sure this rings a bell. You've got about a dozen or so things on your calendar. The peril is that you'll start thinking about which one to do first. Odds are you'll bat them around for a couple of hours and then it's lunchtime and then its... What you need, my friend, unless you can find Trapper John and Hawkeye to triage your to-do list, is a simple, foolproof algorithm for deciding what to do next. By the veriest coincidence, I just happen to have one that I'm willing to share.

Take the to-do list. Find the item on the list that will probably be the most fun to do, like "Revamp the Yankee's pitching rotation." Put that at the bottom. Then find the item that you think is most critical. Maybe something like this: "Save Earth from rogue comet." Put that just above the most-fun-to-do task. Keep going like this, arranging the tasks in order of their appeal, until you find the task that you really, truly, viscerally hate to do. Some examples: doing your estimated taxes; making an appointment with the periodontist; sending out that condolence card. Find the most hateful, boring, potentially embarrassing item on the list: THAT'S the one to do first.

Here's my thinking. If you don't get that horrid task finished, you'll never get anything else done well. Even while you're trying to figure out if Mussina should start before Pettitte, part of your mind is gnawing away at you because you haven't filled out the tax forms. So you can't concentrate on correcting Joe Girardi's mistakes. And what do we call this kind of situation? Nice and loud, class: DISTRACTION!

So get the ugly stuff off your list first thing every day. Not only will you enjoy the more frivolous items, but you'll do a better job with the critical ones. And you'll feel like such a mensch.

PS. I think Pettitte definitely gets the nod.


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Source: We Interrupt This Program...