One of the foundations of good time management is prioritisation. This is the task of looking at the various things on your to-do list and deciding which are the most urgent, and which are the most important. I separated these two as they may not always be the same thing.
It may seem easy to some to realise that having a work or school deadline the next day makes the task more urgent and important than rearranging the pile of paper that has been on the desk for the past month. However, for many people struggling with time management, this is not always too obvious. And a part of those people struggling with time management, one finds people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
People with ADHD struggle to prioritise and to stick with decisions. Their brain processes a multitude of information at the same time, giving each piece of information equal importance. Therefore, the pile of papers on the desk suddenly becomes important to clear up…but if while we’re clearing up we find a loose sock which somehow got stuck in that pile, then we have to find the other sock to make the pair, and while we’re hunting for this other sock we come across the fact that the milk has finished, so we have to go get another packet… and so on, and so forth.
So what can people with and without ADHD do to learn to prioritise tasks? One suggestion would be to look at that task list and ask yourself “What is important to me?”. Is it more important to find the other sock to make the pair, or is it important to finish the assignment for school? By asking this question, we can learn to pause and become more reflective in the things that we do.
Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.