How to Prioritize

Get Your Priorities Straight

Creating a priority list is a great way to stay focused on your most important goals. Learn how to schedule tasks, set reminders, and get organized with four easy tips.

How to Make an ADHD-Friendly Priority List to Manage Time
How to Make an ADHD-Friendly Priority List to Manage Time

Do you have a priority list? I certainly do. Think of your priority list as the compass that keeps you focused on your most important goals. When you have this guide, living successfully with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) becomes easier.

Most adults with ADHD bash their way through life with no thought to what’s important. And when some of them write down their priorities, they wind up ignoring the list or put it somewhere clever, never to be seen again.

If you want to stop living at the whim of your ADHD, learn how to prioritize. But how do you use the list each day as you’re bombarded with tasks, requests, and distractions? How can your list help you stay the course? Here are some tips.

[Free Resource: Keep Track of Your Time]

Priority List How-To’s

1. When new requests, ideas, and tasks come your way, use the list to do a quick mental check of where they fall in your priorities. If a task isn’t a high-priority item, schedule it for a later time. That doesn’t mean that you will never do it. It means you shouldn’t get the task done before your more important items. And that means you need to get good at scheduling your tasks.

2. For your priority list to work, look at it often. I suggest you set a reminder to look through your list first thing in the morning — before you open your e-mail, before you start responding to the priorities of other people.

3. Set a reminder to review your list of priorities at least once a week to make sure it still rings true. Scheduling a weekly planning session is essential to making sure your priorities are aligned with your goals. This planning session doesn’t have to be long and tedious. Make it ADHD-friendly, a quick cruise through your goals and priorities.

4. Make sure that the ADHD self-care habits that give your brain fuel and ability to focus are high on your list. Ignoring them is easy and risky. You must take care of your brain for it to take care of you.

Accept that using your priority list won’t be easy to do, especially if you’re just learning to manage your ADHD. You will probably forget to look at the list. You will probably continue to misplace it. You will get distracted. But the more you work at strengthening your priority muscles, the easier it will become to meet your most important goals.

[Getting Things Done Just Got Easier]

8 Comments & Reviews

      1. An ADHD Coach could certainly help with determining priorities.

        Maybe you could put all your to-dos each on a separate post-it note. Then have three sections on the table or wall: Must Do Today, Important, Can Wait. Then make a decision on each task for where it should go. Then, the task (post-it) can be move each time it needs to be, or trashed when accomplished. Or, if it’s easier, you could color code them: red post-its for must do today/urgent, orange or yellow for important but not urgent, and then green for items that can wait (until the other two categories are clear).

        ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    1. I am a facilitat or for the Bridges Out of Poverty Getting Ahead program in Ontario Canada. And ADHD. This is one of the things the program teaches and I use a lot of the same techniques in my personal life.

      1. Come up with a list of values or I prefer the different aspects of your life which will always Flux in and out of balance as a natural course of life. Such as physical health, mental health, family and relationships, children may be a separate area, financial, spiritual, community etc… The thing to remember- and this is why the article stresses weekly check ins- the priority hose aspects of life are in will changel as needed to find balance.

      2. Do a brain dump every week… get out of your head everything you’re worried about, everything you have to do, things that just pop up as want to do down the road… dreams etc… whatever comes to mind. This does not have to be linear. I love poster paper btw and when I’m short on space index cards.

      3. On the next pages use the headings as you feel comfortable (lots of resources on the Internet for this) Immedited or Tomorrow, this week, next week, next month… or use dates… I feel better with a combo that includes dates bc the number is what triggers my brain when I’m looking at a calendar.
      Now sort the first page here.

      4.From here you can schedule it into your daytimer. Super important part. I also have a white board calendarso it’s always in my face.

      I want to stress another note in the article… take care of your brain!
      Eat well… easy on the carbs (not just for your waistline.. also helps to stave off depression) Sleep as much as you NEED. WATER ( I hate it.. I know.. do it anyway. Your brain will thank you). And Exercise. .. even if that’s dancing in your living room!

      Hope this helps.

  1. >>4. Make sure that the ADHD self-care habits that give your brain fuel and ability to focus are high on your list. Ignoring them is easy and risky. You must take care of your brain for it to take care of you.

    Take your medication, they said. It is RISKY not to, they said.

    Because my local pharmacy had a YET ANOTHER problem filling my prescription this month, I have had to call CVS YET AGAIN and break through their abnormally-thick wall of voice-activated ignorance in order to speak with my local pharmacist.

    The pharmacist told me that she is unable to fill the prescription because my insurance plan requires that the bottle holds a 90 day supply.

    My provider is only allowed BY LAW to call in the prescription for a maximum of 30 day supply.

    So – in what has become an excrutiatingly familiar scenario, at this very moment I’m on hold with CVS CAREMARK MEMBER SERVICE.

    Do you know how long I’ve been on hold? Long enough to find my ancient Additude login credentials.

    The first representative seemed to have a good grasp of the situation. I had hope for her. But she put me on hold three times, then transferred me to a “resolution specialist”. He has also put me on hold now, while he calls the pharmacy. What’s my current phone number? I had already given it to the first representative. I give it to him. He says he needs to call my medical provider in order to verify that what I have already explained is in fact true: the provider is NOT ABLE to call in the prescription for more than a 30-day amount, because of state law. He seems to think that this problem that I’m calling about today is simply a matter of my failure to ask the provider for a 90-day supply. What he needs to understand is that the provider is liable to lose his license for that — IF he were even able to find a way to break through the computerized system that enforces the 30-day-supply limitation on him.

    I first became familiar with this problem at least two years ago. Somehow the hard working folks at CVS CAREMARK seem to be encountering it for the first time.

    I forgot to look at the clock at the moment that I first dialed the pharmacy number. It took at least 5 minutes to reach the human pharmacist.

    I also forgot to look at the clock when I first dialed the CVS Caremark phone number. Tha resulted in hearing a computerized instruction to “press one if over 50 years of age” for the purpose of listening to a “special offer” (which, the last time, was an advertisement for hearing aids). I refused to press a number. The system hung up on me.

    By the time that I FINALLY remembered to look at the clock — while I was being transferred to a Caremark Resolution Specialist — it was 12:45pm.

    Right now, I’m on hold yet again, while the Resolution Specialist calls the pharmacy.

    Update: the Resolution Specialist tells me that we are “all set”, so I won’t have to call again to resolve this problem — at least, not until next year. That’s how long the 30/90 waiver is expected to be in place. My past exprience is spotty; we’ll see. As of 1:18 ,I have ended the call.

    Going to get RIGHT ON THIS prioritization scheme. I bet it’s going to solve a lot of problems.

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