8 Tips for Using a Planner

Health Writer

If you have ADHD, you have probably been told, more than once, that using a daily planner can help you stay on track. You might have tried using planners, and found it was helpful…for a couple days or weeks until your planner, like many other organizational tips, faded into obscurity. Today, you have the choice of paper or electronic planners. You might like to have a book you can keep close by or you might prefer to keep your planner on your phone. If you are using, would like to use or would like to resurrect your daily planner, the follow tips can help.

Decide whether you prefer paper or electronic. There isn’t any right or wrong, better or best. You should use what you find most comfortable. Some people prefer having a paper planner because the act of writing in it helps you remember things. Others prefer to have their planner on their phone, where they can easily check it several times a day.

Use one planner to keep work and personal items. For those with ADHD, having separate planners to update and check can be confusing and overwhelming, which means you are more likely to give it up. This also makes it easier to check all of your appointments and tasks before adding another.

Plan for transitions and travel time. Those with ADHD frequently run late for appointments, getting to late and even picking up the kids from activities. Always add extra time for travel or if you need transition time in between tasks.

Use automatic reminders if you use an electronic planner. The benefit of electronic planners is the ability to program alarms and reminders to help you stay on track. You can usually set several reminders, such as 1 hour before and 15 minutes before an event.

Review your planner on a regular basis. Check your calendar in the morning, at lunch and at the end of the day to help you better plan your time. Don’t wait for an alarm or reminder to tell you something is coming up. Review all of your tasks and activities scheduled for that day so you are more prepared for what is coming next.

No task is too small. Your planner and calendar can help you remember everything you need to do. One mistake people make is to think certain tasks or activities are “too small or insignificant” to add to the calendar, such as stopping at the store after work or picking up dry cleaning. Remember, the calendar is yours and the more you add, the less you will forget.

Take advantage of the recurring feature in electronic planners or calendars in your phone. If you have tasks or activities that occur on a regular basis, such as a Monday staff meeting at work, use the recurring activity feature to have it appear every week.

Use your planner to block out time for yourself. People with ADHD need down time to relax and rejuvenate; this might be time you spend on a hobby, meditating or taking a walk. You might want to block out time to update your calendar, get rid of unneeded tasks or set up alarms for important tasks. Setting aside time each evening to review your calendar can help keep the tasks relevant.

For more information on ADHD and organization:

Strategies for Managing Adult ADHD

Five Ways to Keep a Child with ADHD Organized and On Track

Twenty Five Tips for Time Management for Adults with ADHD

Apps to Help the High School and College Student with ADHD Stay Organized

Fifteen Ideas for Organizing Your Home