Because we often fail at using other people's systems, and then we start thinking we are defective.
And we AREN'T.
We are just different! We need to design and invent our own system that works with the way we think.
Besides, there is a lot more to establishing priorities than just ranking what's on your do list.
Many Prioritizing decisions happen long before things even make it on to your TO DO list. And, to make things even more challenging, prioritizing decisions have to made constantly throughout the day as new possibilities and situations emerge.
Ultimately, every single action we take is the result of a prioritizing decision.
To a person with ADD, or high creativity, making all those decisions can often be utterly exhausting, even excruciatingly painful, and stressful. Try as hard we might to pre-plan our actions and days, they still seem to feel like they are out of our control.
What's your Daily Prioritizing Agony?
For some of us, daily prioritizing agony starts with the choice "what should I wear today?"
Do I prioritize:
- looking good?
- wearing something different every day?
- creative accessorizing?
- or getting dressed FAST so I can move on to other tasks?
Underlying that might also be the question, should I get up earlier so I have more time to dress and not be late to work? So now, we are having to choose between time for sleeping vs. time for dressing vs. being on time for work.
That is how overwhelm works. We get bogged down in indecision caused by thinking of so many possibilities and then freezing at the thought of making a really tough choice between 2 or more values or things we care about.
Overwhelm is a sign. It tells us that we haven't taken the time to sort out our choices and the values they represent. We haven't made a clear decision about what exactly is most important to us and then, create a system for ourselves to support us in remembering what we decided, and then ACTING on it even when acting on it is uncomfortable.
It's not enough to state a priority...we need to be really clear that it's our TRUE priority, and support it with time and energy. Otherwise, we get stuck in a pattern of having to make the same stressful choices every day, or worse, we give up and stop trying. Taken to the extreme, we can even end up living in total chaos and even squalor.
Prioritizing What to EatFor others of us, a significant challenge every day is the choice of "What should I eat?"
Do I prioritize
- how long it takes to cook or prepare?
- how messy it will be to clean up?
- how much the food costs?
- emotional comfort?
Sometimes we can't have it all. We have to accept that and find a way to deal with the trade-offs we might have to make.
Prioritizing What to Keep
For many of us prioritizing what things to keep or let go of throughout the day is another exhausting prioritizing challenge. Even something as simple as what mail to keep can be stressful. And if we keep it, where to put it?
Here's another example.
Have you ever tried on clothing from your closet, hated the way it looks on you, taken it off and kept it anyway? Have you ever done this more than 5 or even 10 times and still kept it? I sure have.
Many of us keep clothing for years, even though we NEVER wear it and always choose something that looks better on us. Those of us who do things like this, tend to have this pattern with many other things in our lives, too. And not only with things, we do it with our time, energy, and money, too.
We keep doing things even though we don't really enjoy them anymore. Maybe we used to enjoy them, or keep hoping we will grow to enjoy them again, but time passes and we still don't.
Why do we do things like this? What are we really prioritizing?Do we prioritize our fear of wasting things? or "wasting" money? our fear of disappointing people? fear of making a mistake? fear of regret?
Do we prioritize how we feel when we wear clothing and decide to let it go? or how we will feel if we close off the option of having that clothing, and then keep it so we don't ever to feel the discomfort of making the decision?
Do we prioritize the possibility of how many things we could possibly do with a thing? or how much space we have to sacrifice to keep it? or the memories associated with it? or how it makes us feel when we look at it or touch it? or how it makes us feel during the act of parting with it?
Is it more important to avoid the short term pain of parting with it, or the long term pain of keeping it?
Are we even conscious of the pain that comes from keeping it?
Like the disappointment we experience every time we try on that clothing that doesn't really flatter us and we feel bad about ourselves again? or the frustration that comes up every time we have to move things out of the way to get to the things we really need and it makes us angry yet again?
Or are we only noticing the relief from anxiety and the momentary comfort we get from keeping things we don't need or even like anymore?
As you can see, even the most basic of choices in our lives reflect our TRUE priorities. This is what we will be focusing on this month's Getting Unstuck Coaching program for Women with ADHD.
We'll be coaching participants on their prioritizing challenges, and helping them discover creative, intuitive and ADD - friendly (and "creative personality type - friendly") ways to figure out their true priorities and put them into action! Would you like to join us? We start November 5!