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  • Writer's pictureJulie Love

Priorities, Priorities…

From the Archive: January 2019

Happy New Year, and welcome to your annual declaration that this time for sure you’re going to…. Do something that you want to do (or quite likely really just want to have already done). Something you value, but somehow can never fit in. But now you will, because now you are officially declaring it to be a priority.

But is your brain getting that memo? See, neurologically, there’s a glitch in the system. We want to do things that we consider Important, but our brains are wired to prioritize activities which are Urgent. What? Isn’t that the same thing?

Well, no. Important is something that matters to us. Urgent is just something flagged as “now.” So, you’re writing a very important letter to your boss, and you get a text from your friend about how much they loved the new Spider Man movie. You know that there is no way it matters as much as this letter you’re writing, but the notification chime signals to your brain “Text! NOW!” And your brain can’t ignore that.

So, what can you do? First, recognize the difference. Perhaps by using a grid, like below, to see how the items on your To Do List compare. Not Important, Not Urgent? It’s okay to not do those. Honest. Stop beating yourself up. Important and Urgent? Those are probably getting done. The last two boxes are the tricky ones.

Important but not Urgent items need a boost of urgency – set yourself a deadline, post reminders. Pair up, and check in with each other about progress on your important tasks. And those things which are not Important, but keep popping up, tricking your brain into an Urgency trap? Notice what is grabbing your attention, and consciously remind yourself if it really doesn’t matter. You’re probably even happier doing it less. Practice waiting a minute or two before responding to notifications (over time, that will train your brain to be less immediately reactive to them). And make use of phone settings like Do Not Disturb. You can do this. It takes practice. Add it to your list of priorities.

This essay was inspired by yet another fantastic video at How to ADHD.


URGENT Important & Urgent Not Important, but feels Urgent

(gets done) (gets done when it doesn't need to)

NOT URGENT Important, but not Urgent Not Important, Not Urgent

(gets postponed indefinitely) (doesn't matter)

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