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Motivation and Setting Priorities

Updated January, 2017

It seems we are all having some issues with motivation and setting priorities. In particular, we seem to have a hard time managing our time.

I get a ton of emails asking questions about motivation and and how to actually get something (anything) done. Perhaps we should define the issues more clearly. I will use my own pain points as an example.

Most of the self-help books out there are geared toward neurotypical individuals. If you have ADHD you are not neurotypical. So the strategies that work for typical people might not work for us.

I am focusing on motivation and setting priorities from the perspective of someone working at home because those are the questions I get most often.

 Motivation and Setting Priorities


Find Your motivational fuel

I recycled that title from my own post. After researching motivation, I figured out that feeling motivated to do something has more to do with our general happiness and perception of the world than one would think.

As humans we need to feel like other people are noticing us and appreciating our efforts. We seek validation from other humans. This is ok, and in fact it is totally normal.

The only way to get around this human tendency is to look for validation in a different way. For me, validation is now tied to my own approval and my own goals.

This is a major shift in my thinking.

Determining your own values sounds simple. But it requires some thought. Ask yourself some questions:

Why do I get out of bed in the morning?

Who are the most important people in my life?

What are my long-term goals?

Who/What does the work I do serve?

We are more satisfied with our work when we know that the work itself benefits someone.

setting priorities

Setting priorities is hard for everyone, not just those of us with ADHD. Wondering why?

Setting priorities requires us to:

Because our executive functions are affected by our ADHD, we have no clue what to do or where to start with our to-do list.

tips for setting priorities

Limit The number of Tasks Per Day

Whether you work in the home or in an office you will not feel good about yourself if you have a list of 20 items to accomplish and you never get to the bottom of the list. Think 1-3 major tasks per day.

Make a decision about which tasks are deadline driven and which can wait.

What tasks will negatively impact your life if you do not get it done?

Develop a Routine

Imagine you work in the home, and you want to develop a cleaning routine that you can complete Monday through Friday. You have 5 days to get the job done followed by the weekend to relax without thinking about your chores.

Decide what you want to do for each day of the week choosing 1-3 major cleaning tasks per day.

An example would be:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Clean all bathrooms and go through mail/papers. Clean floors and vacuum carpets. Tidy bedrooms. Clean and disinfect kitchen and all surfaces. Do dishes or load the dishwasher. Laundry day.   Put away clean baskets as you go. Dust around the house between loads. Clean all living /entertaining areas so you can relax over the weekend.


Commit to certain cleaning chores on specific days.

Obviously this is an oversimplification of one’s housekeeping responsibilities, but you get the idea. We will be exploring ways to form routines and habits in the near future.

Use a Timer

I have been timing myself with my phone since before it became hip with the Pomodoro Technique. In my work ebook I actually describe how I use 60 minute periods of work, followed by 15 minute periods of rest to keep myself productive on the job.

At home you could easily shorten your work periods to 15 minutes and then give yourself a few minutes to watch television or play with your cat. Or whatever floats your boat.

Timers really are your bff when you have ADHD.

You can use your timer to determine how much time you need to do things.

For example, if you are developing a new morning routine you might want to spend a few days timing yourself in the shower, preparing breakfast, getting the kids dressed…etc. This way you know approximately how much time you need to get out the door.

Journal Every Day

Write down all of the task you completed today. Write them down no matter how tiny and insignificant they seem. You will feel much more accomplished when you see what you actually got done in black and white.

Also, do not discount self-care as a necessary task for completion.

Taking care of your mind through quiet reflection, and taking care of your body through exercise are important and valid goals.

Include the things you do to take care of yourself in your list of accomplishments. I am pretty passionate about the idea that taking care of YOU is just as important as taking care of everyone else.

Get Your Daily Journaling Checklist Here

How do you set priorities?

Do you have trouble with motivation?


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