How A Planner Helps My ADHD!

Franklin Covey Planner

Franklin Covey Planner


My husband, David, and I are very different in the way we go about our day-to-day activities.  He’s a remodeling contractor.  He has a planner I set up for him and he sort of uses it.  He mainly uses the blank paper to write notes or to-do lists.  He frequently writes lists on random scraps of paper and throws them away when they’re done.  He doesn’t write his daily plans on paper.  He doesn’t have printed routines or schedules or to-do lists.  When he’s working on the house, he just does the next thing and he intuitively knows what that is.  He cleans as he goes, picks up after himself and doesn’t forget (usually) important tasks.  Did I mention that he’s a born organized?  He just knows what to do and he does it.

I’m a full-time homemaker.  I blog, spent lots of time with my grandkids and take care of the house.  I cook, clean, pay bills, grocery shop, etc.  And I can’t live without a planner.  I write anything and everything down.  I am NOT a born organized and I don’t intuitively know what needs done next.  I have ADHD and it’s a real pain in the butt when it comes to managing my home and my time.

However, I can accomplish almost as much as David does but I need a little help doing it.  My brain doesn’t work as efficiently as his does so I have to compensate a little – okay, maybe a lot.  The compensation comes in the form of my planner.

  • He has a lot going on his brain but somehow he’s able to process it and put it in its rightful place inside his brain.  I have a lot going on, too, but I can’t process it.  It overwhelms me.  I have to get it out of my brain and on paper.  Then and only then can I put it in its rightful place.
  • He makes a list, does it and then throws it away (he doesn’t always make a written list – often he keeps it in his head). My response is much more complicated.  I make a list.  Then I rebel against the list.  Then I decide maybe I’ll do a few things on the list or maybe something else.  Eventually I get some of the stuff done on the list. But I never throw it away because there are unfinished things on the list and I need a record in case I have to look back to see if I did something and when.  But I still do better than if I didn’t have a list.
  • He intuitively knows what to do next.  I don’t have a clue.  Because of my ADHD, everything seems equally important.  And there’s so much I think I need to do that I don’t know what to do next.  Since I don’t have that intuition that he has, I have to make a list – actually, a daily plan.  A list doesn’t always cut it for me.  I need to plan out the day and figure out what I need to do and when I might be able to do it.  If I simply wing it, I won’t get anything done or I’ll get the wrong things done.  And getting the wrong things done is almost as bad as doing nothing at all.  So he can plan his day in his head but I have to do it on paper.
  • He has a routine and follows it.  I have to thoughtfully create a routine, write it down and then remind myself to follow it. I have a page in my planner that includes my routines.  It may seem silly, but it’s the only way I will consistently do them.  I know that sort of contradicts the idea of a routine (something you do automatically) but trust me, I have to do it this way.
  • He’s motivated.  He knows what needs done and he does it.  Period.  That’s it.  I, on the other hand, lack motivation and have to find ways to create it.  I use games, strategies, rewards, stickers – whatever it takes.  Sometimes it’s as simple as writing things down and marking them off.  He doesn’t need the satisfaction of marking something off.  I do.
  • He cleans as he goes.  He sees something that needs done and he does it.  I see something that needs done and I add it to my list.  I’ve gotten better at cleaning as I go – by following his example – but I’m still not great at it.  But I have learned that when I see something that needs done, to write it on my list.  We both get it done – it just takes me longer.

ADD/ADHD makes time management much harder, but having the right tool, in my case a planner, can make the difference between success and failure.  Without my planner, I flounder.  With my planner, I can defeat (or at least cripple) my ADHD and accomplish great things.  David might be superman all on his own, but with the help of my planner, I can be super, too.

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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13 thoughts on “How A Planner Helps My ADHD!

  1. My husband (whose name is David too!) is the complete opposite. He only makes a list when things become so overwhelming and relies on his brain for the other stuff. He works from home and doesn’t have much to remember (because he has me for that!) so when he needs to remember something I’m comfounded as to why he can’t. I’m the one with all the stuff in my head, but…..I take it out of my head and put it in my planner.

    I’ve been fervently trying to get him to use a notebook to record stuff (he has degenerative arthritis) such as times when his paid is bad, when he took his meds, if he’s feeling pain anywhere new, other symptoms, etc,. for when he has his checkups, but he says it’s all in his head. OY!

    I never experienced symptoms of ADD/ADHD, but I do know that lately my short term memory and focus have not been great. Which his the reason I’m going back to a ringed planner from bullet journaling in a notebook. As much as I love the creative freedom, I believe these changes I’m going through require the structure of a planner.

    1. I hear ‘ya, Elena. Sometimes you just need more!

      My husband suffers from IBS and I’ve tried to convince him to write down what he’s eating and try to analyze the data. He doesn’t. If we track it, I have to write it down for him.

  2. Great tips and insight. I think a lot of what you say could also be applied to the absent minded or those who have so much on their minds that they lose track of things. (Lately that would be me.) Thank you for sharing your process.

  3. Great post! It explains my adhd brain, too! On days I ignore my planner, I ignore life. I sldo, makeca plan gor the day then rebel snd do other things on list.

  4. My aunt of a certain age has used a simple system that has worked for her about forever.
    She uses a stenographer style pad with wire at the top, puts the current date at the top and uses it to keep her day organized. She can put down stuff to do, things she has done (like medications she has taken and when) something she hears about but won’t recall in a few hours (like the name of a book reviewed on a TV or radio program) and dietary notes to herself. It is very simple and works for her! CAT

  5. homey – another great ADD ADHD post. If you dont object i will use it as a post with maybe a little editiing. i know for you its about using a planner but i see it as larger, life with ADD ADHD and how to cope and comparing it life without.
    best wishes

  6. homey – another great ADD ADHD post. If you dont object i will use it as a post with maybe a little editiing. i know for you its about using a planner but i see it as larger, life with ADD ADHD and how to cope and comparing it life without.
    best wishes
    love the pics of lucy and of gradchild

  7. I love the way you write. I’m not sure I have ADD or ADHD (although lately I’m not sure that I don’t), but I’ve always been one to write things down. I think I have more of a visual memory, so I can remember things if I’ve written them down or read them. Keeping lists in my brain is almost impossible. I see people at work who get through the day without a to-do list of any kind but still remember to do stuff and I’m always baffled. I have to write, make lists and plan almost everything, or else i’m just so unproductive.

    1. I don’t know how people function without a list either. I can’t do it. My mind is a jumbled mess if I try to function with stuff in my head.

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