Do you have trouble with prioritization?

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Jayo
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03 Oct 2021, 1:52 pm

Or, perhaps the more apt question is: do you have trouble insofar as other people criticizing your sense of prioritization?

IME, I had a few times when I didn't realize that I was (de-)prioritizing the wrong things until someone (a co-worker, my boss or my wife / gf) pointed it out to me. It seems to have improved in more recent years though (I'm in my late 40s now).

On more than one occasion, ranging from my teens in P/T fast-food jobs to my late 30s in analytical type work, I was criticized and even given a performance improvement plan on the basis of not prioritizing the most important tasks - as you might expect, that was due to what they now call the "double empathy problem", where each side of the AS and NT equation assumes that the other is on the same wavelengths, so doesn't bother to "check in" with each other. 8O :(

And of course, we disproportionately take the blame for this, despite being conscientious and putting in MORE effort than the other side. But I digress...

I've also heard stories of other Aspies being told to "just take care of this" which is a relatively minor task, and then spend too much time on it - like obsessively to perfection - when the unspoken expectation is to return to the main task at hand. Like one anecdote I read about a female Aspie who worked in a daycare, was told by a colleague to "just clean those bottles in the sink, they've been lying there" - and so she thoroughly scrubbed them and rinsed them, then the upset colleague came back to the kitchen and said "what are you still doing here??? you didn't need to spend THAT much time on this, you're needed back in the room with the kids!! !"

I really think the only way of avoiding these unintended differences of "priority perception" is to talk it out at first, like ask your boss or more senior colleague, "what what you say are currently the top 3 or 4 priorities here"? Then ask if those priorities are subject to change at any time, and what might trigger that change. You probably don't want to ask too many questions after that though, lest you be regarded as "special" before they have a chance to find that out otherwise 8O

That was one of my big masking strategies in the workplace, to mask my lack of "common sense" as conscientiousness. For the most part, it worked...



funeralxempire
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03 Oct 2021, 1:56 pm

Severely. :oops:


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05 Oct 2021, 7:35 am

Yes.

Even the basics -- I don't usually know which is more important and which is more urgent unless prompted.

To me, the moment a task is given, it is taken as 'do it now' and all equally important.
Because my range and reach of thought is usually muffled by some damn fog -- I don't actually have this issue without it.

To actually have me prioritize right takes too much effort, too many internal steps -- steps I can't access as long as I'm 'ill' with whatever this is.
So I'd end up with partial guessing based on the nature of the task itself instead of reason behind the task itself.

Anything that is supposedly 'later' is usually missed by forgetting, or is done out of mismanagement of time even with specific times.
Maybe, especially with specifics.

It does not help that the amount of time I finish a task varies too widely.
Assuming the best and fastest would spell disasters, while assuming the worst and slowest would likely be a waste of time and productivity.
There are no 'averages', only a 'range' and on top of other factors outside my control.


And... Even if I do fine with passive like priorities -- I may ended up forgetting it or sometimes failing to uphold it.
Or due to limited range and reach of thought, perceives it as conflicting with some otherwise long-term or short-term active tasks.


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Fireblossom
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05 Oct 2021, 9:15 am

Apparently...? My mom always says I focus too much on irrelevant things, and I seem to always do something wrong in her eyes when I try to help her at housework. I say "in her eyes" because I can run my own household just fine on my own, so it can't be completely my fault.

I haven't really had any trouble with prioritizing wrong things at work, but this probably has a lot to do with the fact that I tend to ask questions if I'm even a little unsure. That and I've tended to have superiors who've made it very clear if they want something done as soon as possible.



Jayo
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08 Oct 2021, 12:50 pm

I remember reading some book, I think it was "An Anthropologist on Mars" by the late neurologist and author Oliver Sacks - some anecdote about a man who'd suffered a TBI and it adversely affected that region of the brain that deals with prioritization, and his legal career went down the tubes after that. Colleagues remarked about how he'd insist on the most banal priorities, even things that you and I would know are not high priorities.

But I'm 99.99% sure that the affected brain region is also impacted in us spectrumites, albeit to a lesser degree than in his case.

Like everything else that comes with ASD/HFA, if we're explicitly told what tasks or activities are higher priority, or the ranking of priorities of each - and those remain relatively constant - then we can perform very highly. But as long as the NTs "in charge" assume that we have the same mindset, that we just know through osmosis or hive-mind or what-have-you what the implicit priorities are based on pragmatics, "the big picture", and ToM, then that's where a disconnect can occur. So as at least another poster has alluded to, the best way to deal with that is to explicitly ask, but not to pepper with sub-questions for minute detail. And just hope that you're not dealing with a toxic personality 8O



CinderashAutomaton
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08 Oct 2021, 1:10 pm

I used to.

Growing up I was given orders more often than education, sheltered too much by my parents, and been misguided by bullies trying to make me their servant. And then when left on my own, I lost myself in the security of perfectionism.

New environments and jobs were troublesome, to say the least. I didn't know enough about most things to feel confident with making my own decisions, much less within the time-sensitive deadlines of other people's expectations. And it wasn't until much later in life that I realized that my requirements for feeling confident about taking action are MUCH higher than the average person, not to mention the lengthy and detailed analysis I do when trying to learn and figure things out.

It wasn't till I was in my early-mid 20's that I started learning enough to start prioritizing things properly, and mid-late 20's where I was completely confident thinking for myself and sticking to my guns regarding the optimal way of doing things.


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Jayo
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08 Oct 2021, 1:21 pm

CinderashAutomaton wrote:
I used to.

Growing up I was given orders more often than education, sheltered too much by my parents, and been misguided by bullies trying to make me their servant. And then when left on my own, I lost myself in the security of perfectionism.

New environments and jobs were troublesome, to say the least. I didn't know enough about most things to feel confident with making my own decisions, much less within the time-sensitive deadlines of other people's expectations. And it wasn't until much later in life that I realized that my requirements for feeling confident about taking action are MUCH higher than the average person, not to mention the lengthy and detailed analysis I do when trying to learn and figure things out.


Well, your threshold of confidence is completely natural for OUR neurotype!! We don't have the same intuitive faculties, or grounding of successful friendships earlier in life to reassure us - so we develop those analytical muscles so much more, just like a blind man can hear so much better (like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman).

That's also why, as pointed out in separate threads, why being a police officer or salesman are horrible jobs for Aspies, probably among the worst.

As for the "servants of bullies", yeah, that's also not an uncommon experience for us Aspie folk...I think a lot of that has to do with us feeling some need to atone for our guilt in inadvertently upsetting others - so those streetwise manipulators pick up on that and feed us some B.S. to use us to their advantage or perverse amusement or what-have-you :x



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08 Oct 2021, 1:38 pm

It's interesting to see the visual disorderly-ness around me compared to my partner. Whilst my NT partner is scatterbrained, she makes no mess around her. I oscillate between being dysfunctionally messy and OCD hyper organised. This is a direct result of my executive function and difficulties prioritising and finishing tasks.



EEngineer75
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10 Oct 2021, 12:13 am

Jayo wrote:
Do you have trouble with prioritization?

Oh, my: yes.


Jayo wrote:
Or, perhaps the more apt question is: do you have trouble insofar as other people criticizing your sense of prioritization?

Not as much at work, anymore, as I've gained confidence over the last couple of decades. The exception might be if I ever have to work for a micromanager again.

In personal matters... that's a yes to both--although I'm getting a little better at being assertive about my unusual needs & methods vs what well-meaning family members want to insist I do or focus on.

I really don't prioritize naturally--or even consciously very well... without a lot of strong experience and/or pain in the particular area of function.


Jayo wrote:
And of course, we disproportionately take the blame for this, despite being conscientious and putting in MORE effort than the other side. But I digress...

Check. Check...


Jayo wrote:
I really think the only way of avoiding these unintended differences of "priority perception" is to talk it out at first, like ask your boss or more senior colleague, "what what you say are currently the top 3 or 4 priorities here"? Then ask if those priorities are subject to change at any time, and what might trigger that change. You probably don't want to ask too many questions after that though, lest you be regarded as "special" before they have a chance to find that out otherwise 8O

That was one of my big masking strategies in the workplace, to mask my lack of "common sense" as conscientiousness. For the most part, it worked...

I WISH more of my younger colleagues at work--NT or ND or anything--would figure this out: just plain ASK if you're not sure, and check-in early & often if either you're new or we're new to working with each other. (I guess that's really on me, as the senior person nowadays, right?)

It's a real pleasure to have a junior coworker or delegatee(?) or new employee come ask a few simple questions about who, what, when, where, why, etc., that are usually "softballs" for me to look good and/or moments for "Omg, I'm glad you asked b/c we forgot to tell you about that."


Re: Prioritization
My problems seem to be:
Either I'm so anxious & frustrated by every small thing taking 10x more trouble or longer than I thought, so either perfectionism kicks in
and/or I keep reducing down to simpler tasks in hope of accomplishing ANYTHING but end up accomplishing nothing of true value (at least till a break or the next day),
Or
Everything is going well enough that I'm hyperfocusing on whatever,
Or
The list is so long that my limited working memory+compulsion to complete it all means I've just started at the top and am working my way down (despite #3 & #10 being what are either most urgent or most important to external demands).


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Dandansson
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10 Oct 2021, 5:24 am

I just don't want to say no to stuff.
I want to do a lot. I have to accept that I will have to make choices in life.



blazingstar
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10 Oct 2021, 5:53 am

Oh, yes.

I can make a list but they all seem to be high priority. All the tasks spin around in my brain clamoring for attention. Sometimes I just go back to bed and put my head under the covers.

Sometimes I pick just one task and tell all the others to shut up. I can get that one task done and feel pretty good about it, but just as I take that one relaxing breath, all the others rush back in.

What does work well is to ask someone I trust. And then just do what is suggested without questioning priorities. Obviously I can’t do that often.


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10 Oct 2021, 6:52 am

blazingstar wrote:
Oh, yes.

I can make a list but they all seem to be high priority. All the tasks spin around in my brain clamoring for attention. Sometimes I just go back to bed and put my head under the covers.

Sometimes I pick just one task and tell all the others to shut up. I can get that one task done and feel pretty good about it, but just as I take that one relaxing breath, all the others rush back in.

What does work well is to ask someone I trust. And then just do what is suggested without questioning priorities. Obviously I can’t do that often.


Totally relate :?



Dandansson
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10 Oct 2021, 8:01 am

Edna3362 wrote:
Yes.

Even the basics -- I don't usually know which is more important and which is more urgent unless prompted.

To me, the moment a task is given, it is taken as 'do it now' and all equally important.
Because my range and reach of thought is usually muffled by some damn fog -- I don't actually have this issue without it.

To actually have me prioritize right takes too much effort, too many internal steps -- steps I can't access as long as I'm 'ill' with whatever this is.
So I'd end up with partial guessing based on the nature of the task itself instead of reason behind the task itself.

Anything that is supposedly 'later' is usually missed by forgetting, or is done out of mismanagement of time even with specific times.
Maybe, especially with specifics.

It does not help that the amount of time I finish a task varies too widely.
Assuming the best and fastest would spell disasters, while assuming the worst and slowest would likely be a waste of time and productivity.
There are no 'averages', only a 'range' and on top of other factors outside my control.


And... Even if I do fine with passive like priorities -- I may ended up forgetting it or sometimes failing to uphold it.
Or due to limited range and reach of thought, perceives it as conflicting with some otherwise long-term or short-term active tasks.

Why not just ask someone for help? I try to do that and it helps.



EEngineer75
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10 Oct 2021, 8:23 am

blazingstar wrote:
Oh, yes. Sometimes I pick just one task and tell all the others to shut up.

:lol: I never tried that. :lol:

Maybe that might be a good trick to save for when I'm procrastinating but also have a large to-do list to boot:

"Everybody quiet up there! Dad has to drive the to-do list straight for this one task!"


blazingstar wrote:
I can get that one task done and feel pretty good about it, but just as I take that one relaxing breath, all the others rush back in.

Lists, lists, lists, for me--to get those excessive ideas off my working memory plate.

Being diagnosed with ADHD only a couple years ago, I finally gave up the false self-criticism of "I shouldn't always need lists, post-its, crutch systems(*), etc.", and I've embraced my many, odd habits of reminders, list tools, multiple color coded journals, etc. I've been toying with a weekly/daily log (in excel) of mostly self-care + work routines, with just a little bit of open space: the limited space helps me feel freer to not over-task (as I still struggle with trying to expect to do less of myself, per therapist's--and life's--gentle, constant reminders.)


For special, important & extended times of excessive personal to-dos (e.g. pre-Christmas mayhem, pre-move avalanche of tasks, etc.), I've been making lists in 4-6 columns on a notepad with column headers like this from left to right:
MUST BE DONE - Needs to be done - Helpful to be done - Nice to do - Want to do - Fun/reward/easy to do
or
ASAP - This month - 2-3 weeks before move - Move week - Move - Immediately after Move - Later after move

Combined with a personal notation of parenthesis for (optional to-dos), it helps me
a) barf all the to-dos out initially
b) visually pick something at random, depending upon my current motivation, mental capacity, time available, etc.,
c) easily add new ones that pop to mind later into this semi-self-prioritized format,
d) feels real good to see things highlighted green and/or crossed-off as time moves on,
f) and then, so long as 1/4~1/2 the list is done--trending with most of the absolutely-have-to-had-been-done left side non-optionals getting crossed off--I can feel okay with dumping it into a stack of papers when the big dates have passed and nothing has (or is left to) implode because the leftovers weren't done.

("Let them go, let them go, let those undones go....")


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10 Oct 2021, 8:31 am

Dandansson wrote:
Why not just ask someone for help? I try to do that and it helps.


I personally have a lot of trouble asking for help and I've learned of several different reasons other people also have trouble asking for help. It's tough to work around, especially if that person has people in their life who treat people asking for help, or even just simple questions, badly.

I can work around SOME of the barriers to asking for help, but one that I absolutely can't is when I ask for help or clarification twice, trying to ask a third time causes me enough anxiety to give me a mental breakdown. Instead, I just end up pacing around anxiously trying to figure out what to do, try to ask other people (who aren't likely to know but ask anyway on the off chance that they do), or just do the best I can and suffer through getting berated or yelled at.


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10 Oct 2021, 9:34 pm

Yes


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