I use timers when things are too overwhelming, e.g. graduate school and an internship with mentally ill children while managing a household with four children. I can read academic articles for thirty minutes...just spend 20 minutes trying to at least bring a little order to the house...throw five minutes at the sticky-looking refrigerator.
I like lists, too, but don't need them unless things are really hectic. Same thing with the timer - mostly I just hit it the way polo does, sort of mantra-ing "I'll be glad when it's done and I can relax."
This is the recommended approach to debt management, too, and I often share it with people at work - "okay, so your [kid/marriage/home/body] is in shambles - what would be the easiest thing to deal with? We'll start there and work up to the big stuff."