Prioritisation with ADHD and the Eisenhower Method

I was on Twitter the other day and happened upon a conversation about the Eisenhower Method.

I had, in fact, heard of the Eisenhower Matrix before and had used it at many points over the years, often during planning meetings with colleagues. The fact that I was doing this with colleagues helped me immensely because I really struggled to categorise Urgent-Important and Urgent-NotImportant — I often couldn’t see past the urgency.

It was one particularly wonderful colleague I had who really helped me make the connection between Important and Not-Important as it related to urgency by verbalising “if it doesn’t help you work towards your goals, it’s not important. You need to prioritise your goals, first, before you can compare the importance of things.”

Until that comment, I’d been trying to order my tasks by Urgency-then-Priority rather than by Priority-then-Urgency. And it’s not uncommon for everything to be urgent to me because of the previously aforementioned “everything is either Now or Not-Now”” time sense of ADHD. And, when everything is Urgent, I would forget about the priority in my panic and end up tackling urgent tasks in the order of whatever looked the most interesting. Needless to say, occasionally some more-important things would get missed due to time constraints.

Actually, that’s why my colleague highlighted the goals to me — our team were in an agile retrospective and we were all very candid about what we were struggling with and what we saw each other struggling with. I said I was struggling with prioritisation so we all talked through what we thought the priorities were and why we thought that. The comment came out of that really productive conversation.

Since then, I’ve started writing out, in my bullet journal, the “Quarterly Goals” that our team agree to ensure that we are all on the same page when it comes to prioritising work. We then have sprint planning wherein we prioritise the work for the next two weeks based on those quarterly goals, the capacity for the next sprint, the urgency of goal-related work versus support tasks that have arisen, et cetera. For awhile I was working scrumban and relied heavily on those quarterly goals to prioritise my work as there was little else to impact the order in which we selected tasks to work on.

It’s been a long while since that comment was made — so long, now, that I’d completely forgotten it until I saw that Tweet. I’m pleased that, though I’ve been working as a technical writer for over a decade, I’m still learning new things and developing new strategies for getting things done.