ADHD Prioritization Strategies, Part 1: Why the Most Common Method Doesn’t Work!
If you’re reading this, you probably struggle with prioritization like so many of my clients! In this first in a series of blog posts on ADHD prioritization, we’ll explore one of the most commonly recommended approaches to prioritization (and why it probably doesn’t work for you!). Later, I’ll give you some simple steps to start to help you make the most of your days and get the right things done without killing yourself!
Let’s jump into…
Why the most common Prioritization method doesn’t work with ADHD!
When there is so much that needs to be done, sifting through your undone to-dos to decide where to allocate your 3 Precious Resources© of Time, Energy and Focus for maximum results can be overwhelming and exhausting.
Prioritization is hard, right?!
It’s no wonder we spend so much time in our inboxes, on socials, and in reactive mode with little to show for our days.
Reacting is always easier than being proactive, but it doesn’t help us move the right things forward consistently, and it is always the least effective and efficient use of those 3 Precious Resources© that we want to have more of for what matters most in life!
Without learning how to prioritize in ways that work for you so that you can attend to The Right Things At The Right Time, it’s impossible to create the fulfillment and freedom you can only have when you are able to accomplish what you intend without killing yourself every day!
So, let’s start with What NOT To Do for Prioritization with ADHD!
One of the most commonly recommended approaches to prioritization is the
The Eisenhower Matrix
Also known as the “Urgent vs. Important” matrix, the Eisenhower Matrix is one of the most common approaches to prioritization.
However, although it seems simple and makes sense on the surface, if you have a busy brain like my ADHD brain, it falls short pretty quickly because it is built upon some areas that are inherently sticky for us.
- First, everything on your list felt important at some point, or it wouldn’t be on your list to begin with. (Can I get an “Amen” here, folks?!) Duh.
- Next, as our focus and energy ebb and flow throughout each day, what feels hard or easy does, too, along with our Executive Function abilities to organize, sequence, and get started on the things we need and want to do. This can be especially impactful for people with ADHD!
- Also, the notion of “priorities” can have strong negative connotations for us from years of struggling with clarity here. How many times have you heard or thought something like, “If you had your priorities straight, you would have _____________ (started earlier, finished that thing already, known what to work on, etc.)?
- And, with our wonky perception of time and inherent optimism about what’s possible, how urgent something feels is directly proportional to our in-the-moment level of interest in and stimulation by that thing.
- Finally, to make what looks to the rest of the world to be a simple construct that should be clear and helpful, how urgent and important something feels is also often directly proportional to how much disinterest, dread, disdain or lack of clarity we have around something else we need to do at any given moment. and correlates to where our energy and focus levels are at any given moment. (Which is why, as much as I hate filing, there won’t be a stray piece of paper in my office when it comes time for tax preparation!)
So, stop beating yourself up for not being able to make the Eisenhower Matrix work for you!
You’re definitely not alone, and I’m right there with you!
I actually don’t recommend this method of prioritization to my clients, for those reasons. (If that worked, they probably wouldn’t have come to me for help!)
Instead, I focus on helping my clients master “Resource Allocation”.
I help my clients learn to make the most of their own 3 Precious Resources© by tapping into how they work best and what’s most natural for them, like how they process information naturally, how they organize things naturally, and how their own focus ebbs and flows throughout the day, among other things. We use those strengths to build simple, sustainable systems and processes for managing their lives that support them, and help them get the right things done more easily, without killing themselves.
Next time, I’ll share a simple process to start to tap into your natural strengths and tendencies, and then we’ll explore a Game-Changing Tool for Prioritization that can help you prioritize your to-dos, maximize your energy, and achieve more while avoiding burnout!
If you’ve tried to apply the Eisenhower “Urgent vs Important” Matrix to prioritize your to-dos, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below with your thoughts, your experience, what worked for you, and what didn’t.
If you’re ready to reclaim your time, energy and focus for what matters most to you, keep and eye on your inbox for part 2 and beyond!
In the meantime,
Lynne Edris, ACG
Productivity & ADHD Coach
If you’re ready to Take Back Your Time and Get Un-Busy, check out my online Freedom Challenge Course at https://coachingaddvantages.com/2022tf-offer/
It’s always so great to learn strategies from people who “get it”! Your point that included our “wonky sense of time and inherent optimism” and acknowledging that our sense of urgency and importance about a certain task is dependent on too many temporal/situational and dynamic variables was so spot on!! Thank you.
Thank you, Sara! I’m so glad you found it helpful.