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One thing and neurodivergent thinking

My top ten time management tips

I’m halfway through my series of blog posts on my top ten time management techniques. If you missed the others in the series, you can start reading from here. Yesterday I talked about three powerful approaches: Warren Buffett’s 5/25 goal setting technique, Gary Keller’s ‘One Thing’ approach and Michael Hyatt’s ‘Big Three’. All these techniques work as a way of focusing your attention on what’s really important.

But what about neurodivergent people? Some of us have trouble focusing. Some of us, me included, take comfort from having lots of projects on the go at once. Are the Buffett-Keller-Hyatt approaches also useful for us?

Subsidiary tasks

I said yesterday that one issue with these techniques is that they generate several subsidiary tasks. A neurodivergent person (not all of us but some of us) might well see many subsidiary tasks, important, or tangential, or invent subsidiary tasks, that they must complete before the main one. I do this all the time.

Making a cake? Should I sort out the kitchen cupboards first? Should I make soup as well? Why write a series of blog posts on my top ten time management techniques, when I could write an extra ten posts applying them to the writing life?! The ‘part two’ posts were a result of me inventing subsidiary tasks – doubling the amount of time and effort required. There are benefits of blogging more often of course – this is simply an example so you can see what I mean.

A ‘one thing’ turns into sub-tasks anyway. I tend to see even more ‘tasks I must complete first before I can do x.’ It’s a bit of an understatement to say that this undermines the method whether it’s Buffett’s 5/25 goal setting technique, Keller’s ‘one thing’ or Michael Hyatt’s ‘big three’ we’re trying to adopt!


Only meditation has helped give me enough awareness to realise I was stacking up the subsidiary (and optional) tasks like this. It didn’t happen overnight although a regular meditation habit of only around 10-20 mins daily-ish has given me a chink of perspective – enough to reflect on what was going on. The problem is one of prioritisation once I get into the different aspects of the task. I’m trying to say no to the extra tasks I spring on myself. No to the kitchen cupboards and the soup.

What else helps?

  1. Getting someone else to talk through my priority tasks for the week with me.
  2. Thinking time before launching into a task.
  3. Allocating large-ish chunks of time to one task (early morning, morning, afternoon, evening or whole day). Timetabling is useful for this. Prioritise using Buffett-Keller-Hyatt (or one of them!), divide your week into chunks, then timetable.
  4. Remember that breaking your ‘one thing’ into subsidiary tasks is useful, as long as you mitigate against getting overwhelmed.


More soon. Until then, happy writing,

Lou xx

P.S. If you know what I mean, let me know in the comments or share your own favourite strategies for prioritising, and I’ll include them in a future post.

P.P.S. Here’s the next post, on applying the 5/25 rule to writing goals.

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