Q: How Do I Prioritize Tasks and Chores on My To-Do List?
Getting starting on your to-do list can feel overwhelming, but learning how to prioritize daily tasks is easier than you might think. Simply ask yourself: “Which one task or chore, when done, will make me feel better?”
Q: How can I better prioritize my daily tasks? Is there an ADHD-friendly planner or tool that can help me get started?
A: After more than 25 years of working with clients with ADHD, one of the most common questions I get is: “What is the best planner to use to manage my ADHD?” For years, I pondered this and tried a variety of planners myself — paper and digital — to see how I should advise my clients.
Early on, I learned that there is no single “best” planner; everyone’s needs are different. But that answer didn’t appease most who asked. I thought some more and then the answer came to me. It involves something I’ve been doing for the last five years or so, and it works well for me.
I used to look around my house and tremble, seeing the things that needed my attention, not knowing how to prioritize or where to start. Starting is hard for us with ADHD. We can’t decide what needs to be done first. People tell us to make a list and choose what is most important on the list.
That works, sort of. If you have an overdue electric bill, that task needs to be at the top of your to-do list. Beyond that, it gets murky: Do I throw in a load of laundry or work on that report that is due in three days?
Then it dawned on me that I was going about this all wrong. My habit of looking at all the chaos and external confusion was getting me worked up. Instead of looking outward, look inward. Ask yourself: “Which one task or chore, when done, will make me feel better?”
I’ve been shocked at how well this way of thinking works for me, and I have suggested it to my clients, who have embraced it with success. By going inward, you will find your answer without mentally juggling tasks until you shut down in despair.
Try it now. You probably have a long to-do list, either on paper or scattered in your tired brain. Which one thing, if you got it done right now, would make you feel better? That’s where you start.
How To Prioritize: Next Steps
- Understand How to: Get Your Priorities Straight
- Learn: Why the ADHD Brain Chooses the Less Important Task — and How CBT Improves Prioritization Skills
- Watch: How to Simplify Your To-Do List
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