What Goes First?


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The other day I was looking for something in our downstairs bathroom closet, and because I had to move things around, I got the urge to pull it all out and organize it.

Have you ever done that?

Sometimes it works, and sometimes you just have a big mess on the floor.

As ADDers, we tend to do things as the mood hits us.

That’s why a lot of things don’t get done, or get done at the last minute, often poorly.

We are masters at procrastinating and have no idea how to prioritize.

Today, for instance, I was supposed to be getting started on food prep for Thanksgiving.

The turkey got picked up, the rest of the food I forgot to buy over the weekend was purchased, but no cooking got done. We even had leftovers for dinner.

So what did I do instead?

Ummm….Pinterest, looking at useless stuff online, reading a magazine.


Now that’s procrastination.

But let’s talk about prioritizing, because that’s really what I want to talk about today.

The turkey got picked up because I got it at the butcher shop and today was the day to go get it. Plus I was picking up my friend’s turkey, too, so that made it a priority.

The food only got purchased because I realized I was completely booked tomorrow and I didn’t want to be near a grocery store the day before Thanksgiving. So it wasn’t a priority, really; it just became one when I remembered that I needed to do it.

As I said, we have trouble with figuring out which thing to do first.

Want to know why the bathroom closet didn’t get organized the other day?

Because I had a clear head and knew that it could wait. I had more important things to do to get my house ready for company.

So how do you learn how to prioritize?

There are a few methods.

One is from Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. You assess each of your tasks and put it under one category:

  • Urgent and important
  • Important but not urgent
  • Urgent but not important
  • Not important and not urgent

Next you’re going to look at the tasks just for the day.

Basically, the order above shows the order in which you complete your to do list for the day. You might want to consider if not important and not urgent chores are worth doing at all.

Before you begin, choose the one thing that is most important that you do. In my example, above, it was picking up the turkeys. Make sure you get that one done as soon as possible. This will make the rest of your day so much better knowing that the most important thing is done.

Of course, this assumes that you have a neat and orderly day. And that you remember everything you’re supposed to do. Ha.

Here is what I do; it’s not as analytical as Stephen Covey’s method, but to me, that’s a good thing.

I keep a dump list. Then each month, I write down the things I want to get done that month. My planner has a place for that next to the monthly calendar.

When I turn to the weekly view, which is what I use the most, I take a few of those tasks and add them to the weekly view. There is also a place for that in my planner.

Each day, I take a look and then see what I can do. The absolutely important ones are already assigned a day of the week.

Then, when I suddenly have a bright idea and an urge to do something not listed in my planner, I do two things – or at least I try.

  1. Check my planner to see if there is something else more important that should get done instead and
  2. Ask myself if I have the time to do it now or if I should add it to my dump list.

It’s not perfect, but it’s something I’ve been working on for a long time, and it does get better the more you remember to use it.

There is a fairly new method of getting things done called bullet journaling and I’ve been researching it. Many people who use it seem to love it and I think part of the appeal is it’s simplicity. Although I have to say, I find the simple things the most difficult to work out.

I’m not sure if it would be a good fit for us, but I’ll be doing a post soon.

How do you prioritize or do you?

Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of Lacyestelle.com and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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