Prioritization is one of the things thats totally abhorred by people with ADD. Logical, linear-thinking people have no problem when they sit down to write out the steps to a project—the first thing you do is step one, then two, then three. And linear thinking people have no problem with that. ADD people, on the other hand, have a horrible time thinking one, two, three. Because we say A, D, 27, 17, 0. And it all makes sense to us.
Add people see the big picture, but even more… the universal picture, about how things fit together. Because of that, randomness seems perfectly normal to us. It makes sense, where linear-thinking people just don’t get it.
Except, what happens because of this is that ADD people trying to prioritize a huge project get overwhelmed. That makes it extremely hard to get their ADD mind around the project.
The skill ADD people need to learn is “chunking,” which is basically breaking a huge project down into chunks.
So lets take for example something really, really simple like clean your room, okay? And lets say that youve spent the last, I dont know, 3.5 weeks just walking in and out of your room and just dumping things everywhere. You know what Im talking about, if you have ADD. I mean you got piles on the dresser, you got piles on the desk, you got piles on the table, you got clothes on the floor, half eaten sandwiches somewhere.
You look at that and say, “Good grief. When I’m done here, there’s the kitchen, and the bathroom, and the living room, and the garage is a mess, too! How can I get this all done?
Here’s the key–chunk it down. That’s totally important, and here’s what it looks like:
OK, start with the top of the dresser. Clean that. If you think of one area at a time, it works better for people with ADD. It will work for your kids with ADD, too. Tell them, “Clean the top of your night stand. Pick up your clothes from the floor. Dust your furniture.” If you do this, one thing at a time, it will work. Give yourself or your kids one area a day.
Chunking things down is the big price. Some people have trouble with chunking things down, though. Some people can do this, and if you can do it, you got things nailed. If you can chunk down things down yourself then youre going to save yourself an immense amount of time. And there are a lot of folks with ADD that have enough attention to detail to be able to do this.
Some ADD people just can’t do it because they can’t maintain focus. Trying to chunk things down and make lists like that will drive them insane. Ultimately, they’re distracted 15 times while they’re trying to chunk a project down.
There are two answers, if you have this type of ADD. If you do, you can get someone to do the chunking down process for you. He or she can iron out the details for you and when they report what they are, they need to be laser specific. They need to put a project into a simple list of tasks, and they have to be very clear on what it is that you need to do.
But if you don’t have the money to hire an assistant, or you don’t have anyone else who can do this for you, what can you do?
Well, one of the things you can do is to write things down, like on a to-do list for example, you can use a system that will allow you to crank through these things. Number one theres never ever ever, under any circumstances, write down an idea. Only write down a task. Okay. In many cases, an idea can also quickly translate into a project.
Once you get the chunks figured out, then set your ADD-friendly system. One category will be for things that can be done or that need to be done quickly. Another category will be for intermediate tasks, things that can wait, but need to be done in the next phase. And finally, categorize those things that need to be done, but can wait for a while.
After you’re done with the first category, move to the second, and do the same thing. Do the same for the third category, too. Then, you’ll have the whole thing done before you know it.
Maybe this system seems too simple for you, but when you have ADD, it’s just an easy way to get projects completed, no matter what they are. Big projects can overwhelm people with ADD, but they may be very important to you. So, think in chunks, one bite at a time, just like the man eating the elephant.