Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Planners for ADD/ ADHD

I don't have ADD/ ADHD (or if I do, I've never been diagnosed) but I do often have trouble working on multiple projects at once. I prefer to focus on one thing at a time, which isn't easy in our fast-paced multi-media world. So anything that helps me keep track of everything at once is a very good thing.

I do have several friends with ADHD and I know they have a hard time finding planners that help them focus on their priorities. It seems to me the key is finding the right balance of structure without being overwhelming. So I thought I'd make a list of planners that I have used and/ or reviewed that I think might be helpful for ADD/ ADHD. I'd also love your feedback on what planners you think are helpful.

There are many Customer Comments on Uncalendar.com from people who have ADHD who have found the Uncalendar planners to be very helpful. You can see my reviews of the Full-Size Uncalendar planner here and the Half-Size Uncalendar planner here.

A Planner Pad (www.plannerpads.com) might be useful to get everything out in front of you, then prioritize daily tasks. Their funnel-down system helps you decide what needs to be done each day. You can see my Planner Pad review here.

I have several friends with ADHD who have had varying levels of success with the Franklin Covey system. I've done a few posts and had some guest posts here on Franklin Covey systems. Patty at HomeMakersDaily.com has used Franklin Covey systems for most of 20 years and has loads of great posts in her Time Management posts.

The Women's Success Planner from TheSuccessChoice.com might be great for women with ADD. It's extremely comprehensive with space for monthly and weekly goals, daily trackers for water and fruit/veg intake, exercise and meds, monthly and weekly lists of what household chores need to be done, and pages for weekly and monthly reviews, notes, and plenty of schedule space. You can see my review of the Women's Success Planner here.

My Plannerisms planner would be great for folks with ADD also. I like that I can see everything on my weekly page: task lists, schedule, and daily goals to check off. The big month calendars give me a great overview of what's coming up, and the annual, quarterly and monthly goal pages keep me on track. Click the links in the sidebar for more information on the features and how customers are using their Plannerisms planners. The 2013 Plannerisms planners are still available, just email me to order. (Laurie at Plannerisms dot com) And the 2014's are due out soon!

Do you have ADD/ ADHD? What are your planner challenges? What planner(s) have you found to be helpful?


23 comments:

  1. As you know, I have ADHD and time management is a huge struggle! Every person with ADHD is so different and yet so similar. How's that for profound?! For me, I need to keep it simple. Too much and I'm overwhelmed. Too little and I'm understimulated. I actually think FF's two pages per day is a good option for people with ADHD because it has 10 boxes so you're limited to only 10 items on your list. Sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to figure out what to put on my list. So having only 10 spots makes it easier.

    I also think creating custom pages can be helpful. Then you can create something that works exactly the way you need it to.

    I looked at those planners you mentioned but they wouldn't work for me. They're too busy. I need it simple. But I can see how they would be beneficial for someone with ADHD. Good insight, Laurie.

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    1. Ooh I love that "Too little and I'm understimulated" That is so true!! Probably why I use multi colors on my planner pages. I love to see the colors on the white page--Shiny! lol

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  2. Laurie,

    I have ADHD, and while planning is of utmost importance it never occurred to me to put it into the context of the planner style I am using. Maybe it did occur to me but, oh look, something shiny!

    I read your post early this morning and really took a LOOK at the unCalendar. I've read the reviews you've done before and though the concept was cool it looked like a lot I could mess up. To people that don't struggle with ADD or ADHD, it doesn't sound difficult to fill In the dates on a calendar. I guarantee you I will mess up at least two months and have to re-do. That being said, I ordered the large Lifestyle immediately.

    In the past months, I've noticed that I am tracking so many things in different tabs of my planner that I am completely overwhelmed. Goal setting? That has been a struggle for quite some time. I'm going to give unCalendar a shot for a month or two and then "call the dog" to see what happens. I'm actually pretty excited! Thanks so much for this post!

    Karyn N.

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    1. Karyn I hope you love your Uncalendar! I hope it works well for you.

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    2. Karyn! Where have u been?? I'd love to know how the Un works for you :)

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    3. Karyn.... dating the uncalendar was my biggest fear. Pulling up a monthly calendar and making sure I started every monday on a monday date really helped.

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  3. I agree with Patty. Uncalendar has too many colors and it throws me off. I can not color code because my mind just shuts it all out. I have to say I also shut down when I see a whole week, I found I cannot process and spend all the time reading everydays tasks/appointments for some reason my brain takes it all in and like a computer screen with too many windows I freeze up. Taking a daily bite works, if I find myself with free time I look back and find something that was unfinished. ADD/ADHD do better with the time slots because they cannot grasp time, putting activities into time slots helps them not to over plan or go into a hyper mode where they get stuck on an activity. "Hard stops" are needed. Parents with ADD/ADHD children find that a regular schedule works very well with them, ie breakfast at 7, lunch at 11, etc. the melt downs happens with spontenaity and irregularity.

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    1. Ooh me too--and all those spaces! I couldn't use any of them because there were so many of them :( Maybe it's just me.
      I can't use weeklies at all-and it didn't occur to me until I read this that maybe that's why. Thank you!

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  4. To me ADD and ADHD there is a spectrum depending where you are on the spectrum will probably define the need for daily weekly format. Personally I love the weekly format... Then again I am from the mind set of It is not the question of do you have ADD? But where are you on the spectrum?

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    1. Deborah-Jane, excellent point. I don't know a lot about ADD/ ADHD but it is very useful to know it's not an either/or thing but a spectrum.

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    2. Apparently to be a President or Prime minister of a Country you have to be quite high on the ADD spectrum to do said job... ADD in some respect can be more of advantage than a disadvantage if handled correctly

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  5. Laurie, I've actually been thinking a lot about this. I work with lots of stuff which is, to be perfectly candid, massively tedious and extremely difficult for me to focus on. I procrastinate like a pro. I oscillate from no focus (when I can't get anything done) to hyper-focus (when I can only do one thing and obsessively think about it and consequently can't get anything else done). It is all very frustrating.

    I find that ADD or not, I have an extremely linear mind. Like Patty, the uncalendar and planner pad look FAR too complicated for me to manage. I would lose track of things. For me, the system needs to be extremely simple and I can NOT go flipping to dozens of tabs to find the different things I need to do on any given day or hour. This is why GTD is such a no-go for me. I cannot maintain all those lists. If it's not plainly, clearly, staring me straight in the face, I won't remember to look for it.

    I get overwhelmed easily; I find it best to break down everything into micro-tasks, baby steps. This is why my planner pages tend to be completely filled up with task lists. I keep motivated by working through the list and checking things off. If I just list "do big boring project" I will procrastinate and put it off for ages. I don't know where to start and it's all too daunting. If I break the big project into ten steps, I can bang them out fairly easily.

    I have ADD. Rather than think of it as a deficit of attention, I prefer to look upon it as a surplus of curiosity. I know a LOT about a lot of things. I think a lot. I ask a lot of questions and, during periods of hyper-focus, can rapidly achieve expertise on a certain subject. ADD is part of who I am and I would NOT change it for anything. That said, I struggle with various "executive function" aspects of life; timing, using appropriate "filters" when speaking with different types of contacts, advance planning... It's all very difficult. And, of course, I just have essentially no capacity for boring shit. I work in libraries and lots of my colleagues seem to thrive on predictable, repetitive work. This makes me go bat-shit crazy. I need stimulus. Something to get my mind chewing on.

    The FranklinCovey planner works quite well. It's not perfect, but tends to be linear enough and capacious enough to work pretty well. I tried to read all the FC "method" but that makes it too bloody complicated and I just shake my head and continue on the way I do. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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    1. This is the reason I find your videos so amazing Joshua, you give an in depth thought process.. I like your version surplus curiosity, I personally think that is a better interpretation..

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    2. Josh I wish we could hang out in real life!!!!!

      Thank you for this insight into how your thought process works. I think your advice for breaking projects down into small steps is excellent advice for anyone.

      I am also very linear and like you I can't have action items behind tabs. I have to put them at the time in my planner when they need done. For example I write "Fill heating oil tank" in June when it's cheapest, I write bills due the week before they are due so I have time to pay them, etc. That way every time I turn my page, I see what needs to be done now, while giving me time to do it. If I wrote these types of things on a daily page, when I turn to the page to see it needs done it's too late.

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    3. Josh, I'm SO like you! I get bored easily. I get overwhelmed at big, boring projects and have to break everything down into smaller steps. I was working on a quilt for my daughter and broke it down like this: 1. buy fabric; 2. get supplies together; 3. cut blue squares; 4. cut green squares; 5. cut border; 6; sew top together; 7. sandwich quilt; 8. quilt one square. etc. That's the only way I can get it done.

      I've tried to do GTD also but it completely overwhelmed me. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

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    4. Oof! Hyperfocus--this drives my mom nuts. She says I get "obsessed" over things. Mind you, it's serial monogamous obsession and I'll stick with 1 thing until I learn what I want about it, then I get bored and move on to the next thing to be obsessed over for a while. I have to see ALL sides of something before I can let it go-poke it with a stick and see how it works and why it works and and and... (However, this makes me fairly good at playing Jeopardy ;)

      I have a hard time accomplishing tasks that I know are going to require "sustained mental effort" and often I put them off until it's DESPERATE that they get done. Ugh--I hate this and it makes getting the financial stuff I have to do at work TORTUOUSLY TEDIOUS!!

      Meanwhile back at the ranch...(sorry, SQUIRREL!!)

      This was really interesting to read! I've been thinking and thinking about how to do a "to do" list, and yes,I do know that how weird that sounds. I have NOT been able to figure out a way to keep an ongoing one effectively. But I think Josh is right--it just needs to go on the dailies-and if it has to be moved over, then so be it. *Off to "obsess" over this*

      Thanks for the thinker fuel Josh!! :D And thank you Laurie for posting about something so interesting. I think that many of us who get obsessed w/planners and planning have ADD to some degree, and this was really very helpful! Many times I feel like I'm the only one who thinks the way I think, and it's such a relief to find out that's not true :)

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    5. Rori I think a LOT of people have issues with where to put their to-do list, especially when using dailies. Zoe did a great post on this awhile back but I can't find it on her blog. (Zoe please put a search function on your blog!)

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  6. I also have ADD and can't have anything with too much "stuff" in it. Those fancy planners I see in the "office" section of Staples (as opposed to the "back to school" section) have too many tabs -- goals, and menus, shopping lists, and whatevers. I can't make it work because I forget to look behind the tab, or I'm not sure what should be there exactly (like for example, if a "goal" is to get shelving put up in my craft area then does "find bins that fit on the shelves" go under "shopping list" or under "goals"? lol. Too overwhelming to make those decisions.

    After coming across your blog I decided to try a planner that has one week on the left page and a blank lined page on the right. It also has the months, one page per month, all at the beginning. Then the weeks run straight through. Previously I was using one that had each month followed by a week on two pages, but hardly any room to write lists. So I rarely used the weeks pages, only used the month and then kept a separate notebook to write stuff.

    But with the one I'm using now -- Gallery Leather, from Maine, which I found in Barnes & Noble -- the months are all grouped at the beginning. So I use an ordinary binder clip to clip to the current month. Then it has a ribbon bookmark which I keep at the current week. I write down EVERYTHING on the right-side page -- stuff to do, email addresses, addresses, access codes (like for my daughter's school pictures), anything. I cross off as I do them, and if they're undone I move them to the next week's right-side page.

    I'm careful to write down any appointments or dates on the monthly page, then on the corresponding weekly page. On Sunday evening I look over the upcoming week and make sure everything from the monthly calendar has been entered on the weekly.

    On the very last page, which is "personal data", I've been putting phone numbers that I'm always having to look up. I don't use my cell phone a lot so I don't want them in there. I just want them at my finger tips when I want them. Like my daughter's ballet studio, or the pharmacy, or my husband's secretary, etc.

    This has worked the best for me of any planner I've tried because everything is right there in front of me. I am truly one of those "out of sight out of mind" people.

    The only thing I don't like about this planner is that the monthly pages begin on Monday not Sunday. I finally took a fluorescent purple highlighter and highlighted the word Monday so my eye would be drawn to it. Before I did that I made some mistakes like writing a Tuesday appointment on the Wednesday block because my mind was thinking the calendar began with Sunday. lol

    Sorry for writing a book. :)

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    1. Lorraine:
      Very interesting--thank you so much for posting. Now I have to go back and read it again and find the ideas I can "borrow" ;)

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  7. I've enjoyed the Uncalendar for this affliction/blessing. I call it my "thought trapper." I like to put every random idea that comes to me within the space of a week.

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  8. I've enjoyed the Uncalendar for this affliction/blessing. I call it my "thought trapper." I like to put every random idea that comes to me within the space of a week.

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  9. I have ADHD, and I bought the Woman's Success planner on the recommendation of another woman with ADHD. I used mine for three weeks, and she gave up on hers a couple weeks later. What an expensive mistake that was! I definitely should have only bought one quarter. It is just too much writing. Instead of helping me focus on what I could do for chores, etc., it just gave me anxiety. I also learned that I don't need daily pages.

    I switched to the Passion Planner, which has worked very well. I did Washi tape over the times, because I don't have a lot of appointments. I put any appointments at the top of the column (wo2p), and then list to-dos below them. I do not stress over making a list for each day - I just make one for the week, then I make a note on the day I did each item. However, if something has to be done on a certain day, I do write it in below any appointments to make sure it gets done on that day.

    I am considering the Uncalendar, but I am also considering just using bullet journaling in a graph notebook. I may just stick with the Passion Planner, though, since it's working so well - five months now, and I'm still quite content with it.

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