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Get Your ADHD Priorities Straight

Decisions, decisions ...
Decisions, decisions …

Some things are obvious in life. If your home is on fire, do you stop to admire the flames or call 911? Duh!

Do you hesitate long enough to grab your grandfather’s family tartan scarf before rushing out into the street and calling 911? Hmmm.

Do you detour through the house to rescue the guitar your mother gave you when you were 13 years old, the one that has meant so much to you all your life, the one she was so proud to have spent a weeks wages on, the one you wouldn’t want to live without?

Some decisions seem obvious and difficult at the same time, don’t they?

Let’s not dwell on those questions …

My house hasn’t burned down, and thus, I’ve lost neither my grandfather’s scarf nor my first guitar, they’re both safe as of the writing of this post. But they, and/or I, are in danger should the decisions described above ever have to be made.

But lets talk less about those decisions and more about why they, and others, are hard. We hear people in the know say that ADHD is a disorder that hobbles our ability to prioritize. I’ve described this problem before, but I had a small insight into it a day or two ago and wanted to share that.

First things first

Firstly, lets examine a typical situation for an ADHDer. I become aware of an important task or job and I begin to do it. Sounds normal, right? I’m like any other person so far.

During the course of doing that task, my focus wavers and my mind wanders. That could happen to anyone, though it’s far more likely to happen to me and to you too, if you have ADHD.

” … note I said will, not might!!!”

While wandering, my mind will (note I said will, not might!!!) remember something that needs (also note I said needs!!!) to be done. A second task. One that will involve consequences if left incomplete.

Do I attend to the first task and then begin working on the second one? Do I immediately start on the second task and hope to be able to return to the first one. Do I write down both tasks knowing full well that that will result in my making a list of other tasks that need doing, possibly resulting in my not getting anything, other than the list completed, if I’m lucky?

I know that if I continue to work on the first task I will both worry about the second one, which will further reduce my ability to focus, and I’ll run the risk of forgetting about the second task and remembering only that there was something else I had to do. The same applies if I switch to the second task, I will worry about the first one and possibly with good cause.

It all ADDs up

The insight I alluded to earlier is that not only is it possible for me to miss doing one of the tasks or even both of them, it is also very likely that whatever I do will be done poorly as a result of my worrying about the completion of the two tasks. Poorly, that is, in comparison to how well I might have done them.

It’s simple, there’s no solution …

And this is a very simplistic scenario. I mean, how often in my life have I only had two things to complete. I’m certain that the last time that was the truth I was in my cradle.

I’m sorry if this seems a bit negative, I’d like to stick around and look for the positives in this situation, but I’m pretty sure I have other things that need doing … don’t you?


Get Your ADHD Priorities Straight

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2013). Get Your ADHD Priorities Straight. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 28 Aug 2013
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