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Get Your Priorities Straight

Get Your Priorities Straight

January 10, 2018   -   Scott B Harris

This one comes under the banner of cognitive dysfunction and it’s all about setting out my priorities. One day recently, I had so much on my to do list at the start of the day that by the end of the day, I looked at the list and was puzzled as to why I had crossed sweet F.A. off it? I couldn’t understand why it was that I couldn’t get anything done. Now don’t get me wrong, I have been having this problem for goodness know how long, but on this specific day I just tried an old technique to overcome it. I say old but it was the first time I had used it to overcome this specific problem. It was old but I’d never really given it a fair crack.

First off let’s talk about the problem at hand. So I had this completely visible to do list that was invisible to everyone but myself. This to do list was full of thing’s that had been built up in my head that I planned to set aside time to get done or think about one day.

There is two mistake right there. The first of the innocent blunders was that I had this whole list looking at me, laughing, from inside my head. Rule #1 from the brain injury-101 class I never took, said I must write shit down. The problem with not writing shit down is I know that if I’m not thinking about this one particular thing I must do, I will forget about it. Rookie mistake, I know. Not writing it down is all well and good, though, if I plan to do it straight away before something else pops it’s ugly head up. But this never happens in my brain. In my brain, I’m always thinking so before I even have a chance to write it down, I’ve thought about something else I must do. This becomes very overwhelming and I end up chasing my tale whilst staring at the clouds all day. This is called prioritizing and I absolutely suck at it with an injured brain. I find it hard to place things on an ‘importance’ list, in my head. What may be so unimportant is just next to something that is so important, on the priority production line.

The second of the problems is that I didn’t put a necessity on the tasks, meaning that if I didn’t do it, the world would still be ok. The reason that this is a problem is because if I don’t have to do something right now, I most likely won’t do it. These items didn’t make it to my ‘You must do this now or else you’re in deep shit, list’. the simple thing to do here is to put things on a deadline. I should have written them all down as they came up in my head and made sure that they had a specific date to be completed. The problem with this though is that I can never seem to perfect my well informed guesstimation skills. Example: This blog was mean to be completely finished hours ago. I say well informed because I knew exactly what I was doing but couldn’t manage to do it in the time allocated. Maybe this has something to do this productivity?

Ok, so what did I do about it? Well this is something I’ve probably been told on multiple occasions but never actually put into practice. I did a brain dump. I put down on paper everything that was on my mind. Like we’re talking about every little thing that was consuming my brainpower at the time and boy did it feel good. I filled up an A4 sheet with about 30 things that I had on my mind. This felt so powerful because as soon as it was on the paper, the weight was taken off my injured brain. Imagine that you’re holding multiple items in your arms for hours because you have nowhere to put them down. You spot a table and down they go. Can you feel the metaphorical weight going down on that table? Well this was kind of the same feeling as I had, but in mind.

This piece of paper was something tangible that I could take to my neuropsychologist and say, “Here, this is what’s happening in my head”. This was great, but it didn’t help me until we brainstormed ways to deal with it. She had me come up with ways that I think would help me get through this list.

One way that I suggested was to just choose a couple of things to get done each day. These things can be placed on my daily schedule that I have for each day. This way I can be getting through the list in little teeny tiny bite sized miniature pieces.

This was good suggestion #1. Good suggestion #2 was that I color code these things. Red for hot… hot as in, ‘This is way too hot to handle much longer’ and blue for cold… cold for… cold for… cold for let’s just chill on this one, BOOM… get it? Cold… chill? Nah, me neither! Anyway, color coding was a good idea too.

My main point is that now they’re down on the paper, they don’t have to be on my mind and I can take my time getting through the list in what ever way I know how. The fact is that it’s still very hard to prioritize and I haven’t really nailed it just yet but now I’m one step closer.

If you’re at war with an injured brain, I hope that this one helped a little bit.

5 thoughts on “Get Your Priorities Straight”

  1. This is probably good advice for *everyone* — one problem is the brain and damage or even normal aging makes this worse — but another problem is that modern life is frigging INUNDATED with advertising of products, services, branding, and politics. Everyone is trying to grab your attention and make you think that — hell, you’d better buy a case of coke! Or a bag of doritos! Or send money to a political campaign in Memphis or send a contribution to Somalia. Geez. No-one can do it all! One thing that’s important to remember is that it’s better to do a few things every day than spend the entire day going back and forth about which item is the absolute most important.

  2. This is an excellent blog post. I start but seldom finish. Its kind of been a wakeup call for me.. I am now gonna put my fancy planner to work and motivate myself to adhere to my priorities.

  3. What an awesome post! And done with a great sense of humor about it. I’m the wife of a man with a traumatic brain injury from 6 1/2 years ago. God bless you. You are in my prayers.

  4. This was really a good blog. I too start out to do one things, see something, go to take care of that and on the way, see something that needs to be done immediately…. and so it goes and nothing really gets done. I am going to put notebook next to my “spot” so when these brain storms can be written down… if I don;t forget them before I get to the notebook.

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