Wednesday, October 21, 2009

5 Steps in Making a To Do List Work

Yes! I have a To Do list. I made the form myself and fill it in at each day's end, ready to go for the next day.

The ADHD mind plays amazing, but deceptive tricks. I fill in the spaces from 1-10 and believe great things will happen. Projects will fly off my desk, signed, sealed, and delivered.

Reality kicks in. The purpose of the To Do list is to increase productivity by prioritizing tasks, completing each one, and moving to the next. Its purpose is not to master the art of making a list.

When I discovered changing the date on my list was all that was necessary, I realized something was wrong. Something that creating a new form wasn't going to fix.

Avoiding tasks is usually fear-based. Many of us, admittedly or not, are perfectionists. We put off tasks fearing the end product will be less than perfect. Or, perhaps we don't feel qualified to complete the task. The logic, usually unconscious, is how can we fail at something we don't attempt? If I never finish my novel who can say it wouldn't be a best seller? Procrastination haunts most of us with ADHD, and can be damaging. (If you are a notorious procrastinator, I suggest you click the link.)

These 5 steps will revitalize your To Do list, increase your productivity, and make you look procrastination in the eye.

  1. Prioritize tasks into 3 categories: (a) Critical (b) ASAP (c) Needs to be done
  2. Move the task that you dread most, or least desire, into the number one spot. Do this for each category
  3. Move the task you most look forward to doing into the second position. Do this for each category
  4. Order remaining tasks in each category alternating from Most dreaded to Most desired
  5. Begin with the Critical category and progress through B and C completing each task in turn

The ADHD accomplice, Focus, will try to mess with you. Counteract it by having the second task, and third if necessary, from your list layed out and ready to go. When you lose focus with task one, simply transfer to task two and work on it. Move back to task one and repeat the process.

By the way, make sure you keep returning to task one. Afterall, you don't want procrastination to win.