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I use three methods: morning TO DO lists, a big blackboard (school sized) and an app called “Avaza”. Any one of these might help, or lead to an idea that could help better.
*Start of day TO DO list*
I write a morning list on an A4 notebook. I have tried writing lists out on computer, but doesn’t seem to work as well for me. You may be different. The idea here is to give a full page to write additional notes, etc. I don’t like small notebooks, they seem too small to see the list. Bigger is better.
It’ll start with obvious things, for example:
Then I’ll move into things for the day, which will invariably be:
– Edit book
– play with cat so he’s not bored.
Three things can happen with this:
– First, writing the list puts it in my head so I can retain the information
– Second, the list gives me something to refer back to and keep focus
– Third, I can tick things off the list which gives me a sense of achievement, which really helps with confidence.
I chose a blackboard because at least you can repaint it when it wears out, unlike whiteboards which end up in office graveyeards across the world.
I use the blackboard to better conceptualise jobs and things I need to do. It gives space to write down ideas, then break them down into achievable chunks.
Start with the overall problem/issue/goal, for example:
– Get cat litter
This seems simple but it actually involves:
– order online; OR
– go to shop to get it.
If ordering online, I need:
– money in the card account
– consider other things to get from the seller (e.g., more cat food?)
If going to the shop, I need:
– make sure bike tyres are pumped up
– make sure have cash on card/cash in hand
This works with bigger issues too, but breaking them down makes them achievable. You can’t build a house just by saying it. You need the bricks, the mortar, cement, somewhere to put the house, etc.
The blackboard also comes in handy for random thoughts during the day, and things to remember.
Avaza is an online system actually intended for businesses, but has built-in task manager, expense management and reports which can be useful around tax time.
Because I work for myself, I need a task management system and ways to record invoices and expenses. However, it also works for me personally.
You start with projects (e.g., Clean the car), and add tasks, breaking down like on the board. But it’s the breakdown that REALLY HELPS. e.g.,
* Make sure hose reaches car
* Get buckets
* Get car wash stuff
* Get sponges, rags, etc
Additionally, I use Avaza to record bills and expenses. It means there’s always a record outside my bank account, which is just an unordered list of “stuff”. Seriously, banks need to step up the game on this.
Sometimes it helps me plan and breakdown tasks by asking these questions. This is something I was never taught in school, and it would’ve helped ENORMOUSLY.
* WHo – Who is it for
* What – What is it, basic idea, overall task summary
* When – When does it need to be started, complete
* Where – where will it be done, delivered, etc?
* Why – why do it? is there another way to do the same thing?
* How – How it’s going to be done
Financially, I broke my accounts up for specific purposes.
The two which I have stuck with in the past are:
– Bills – for all expenses, power, internet, etc.
– Personal – for things for me. A small amount deposited each pay can go toward coffee, Doctor Who fan bits, etc.
Pay goes into Bills, and a small cut goes to Personal. It quarantines bill money so it doesn’t get used for anything else.
* Calendars *
I have been prone to forgetting deadlines in the past, so a standard computer calendar helps me enormously. In fact, it’s the reminders that help. Paper calendars don’t do that unless you write them in manually.
* Add event
* Add one week, two day, on day reminders