How to Prioritize

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?”

Checklist document on laptop and working desk vector. Cartoon computer with checkmarks document or to do list with checkboxes, concept of survey. Online quiz or done test, feedback or workplace table
Checklist document on laptop and working desk vector. Cartoon computer with checkmarks document or to do list with checkboxes, concept of survey. Online quiz or done test, feedback or workplace table

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?

[Use This Free Resource: 19 Ways to Meet Deadlines and Get Things Done]

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


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Updated on May 2, 2021

1 Comments & Reviews

  1. Hello, This is a great way to prioritize. I have struggled with AdHD Inattentive my whole life (first memories of failing and struggling…1st grade) but wasn’t diagnosed until age 39. I told my doctor I was sure I had it and after a lot of discussion he agreed but I didn’t know about “inattentive” for 6-7 more years from my son’s therapist. I can’t use a traditional “date book” – I use post it notes for immediate “to do” items like “bring lunch” “get gas” “pay rent” and a Bullet Journal for all the other millions of things that race through my mind constantly. Once I write them down they settle down a bit. When my kids were small I had to keep a pad of paper next to my bed to “park” thoughts or I couldn’t fall asleep. My Bullet Journal is flexible. I can skip a whole week if nothing important is going on (example: 8 weeks of quarantine in 2020) and not feel guilty about “wasting pages”. I can write quotes, songs, true crime facts, history dates/facts, countdowns etc. The Bullet Journal gives me freedom of guilt that a calendar or date book don’t. Guilt is one of my primary feelings and anything to let it go is a big plus for me. I’ll keep this question in mind from now on. Very helpful…thank you. I am still learning how to cope every single day.

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