Learning to use a calendar to manage my time is an ongoing education for ADHDers like me.
by Katy Rollins
A much younger best buddy of mine asked me a hilarious question the other night: “So how old were you when you finally embraced religious calendar use?”
I responded, “What — you mean like an advent calendar?” Then I realized that’s not what she meant. She actually thought I’d somehow mastered the art of using a calendar. You know, a calendar — that perfectly “normal” tool that people use every day to manage where they are supposed to be and when. Maybe if every calendar had little chocolates in it, like advent calendars, little doors obscuring magical prizes, I’d remember to look at one.
I told her the truth, that calendar management is my Achilles’ heel, that it drives me nuts, that I’m terrible at it. I found it funny that she asked me this. She looks to me as a mentor on many other matters — like dealing with mental-health issues — because I am older than her. Her assumption that people who are older with more life experience have the ability to manage a calendar was charming. Not with the ADHD factor involved, my friend. You’re talking life-long learning when using a calendar.
Calendar management is not just a skill, it is a whole set of skills. It requires several steps that involve follow-through. I am bad at every step of this process:
1) Purchasing or creating your calendar. I’m not terrible at this step; I just can’t decide which type of calendar I prefer — paper or electronic. I prefer paper because I hate typing things into little boxes. Writing them into little boxes is inherently better, but you can’t set alarms or reminders on the paper calendar. I change my mind from time to time. I have to, in order to keep myself interested in a calendar. A transition from a paper to an electronic calendar generally happens, though, when I lose the paper one. I think, “Clearly I can’t be trusted with the paper calendar. I should have an electronic calendar.” I’ll address the folly of this line of thinking momentarily.
2) Putting things on your calendar — besides your coffee cup. I fear this moment. I fear that I will put something on the calendar and never look at it again. It’s like putting something “in a safe place” never to find it again.
3) Remembering to look at the calendar. This is where I fail, always. I’m considering setting alarms to remind me to look at the calendar, but honestly, I get anxious thinking about all of the little alarms going off. The whole thing will likely give me shingles by the time I’ve made a decision. In fact, I’d rather wish for shingles than make a decision about calendar reminders.
Then there’s the paper versus electronic conundrum. At least with the paper calendar, I can see it. It exists. It is there, staring at me, with a picture of cute little kittens on the cover (until I misplace it in a black hole). An electronic calendar is a concept, an idea, a hidden kingdom with no map. I guess setting alarm reminders would be like creating a map...or creating a panic attack. I will mull this one over.
In the meantime, I’m going to put Post-Its on my steering wheel and pray a lot, while avoiding my own good advice — the advice I like to give to my much younger friend, when she asks for it. Maybe she can try out the alarm reminder thing first and reassure me that I won’t drop dead from all of the little ringy-ding-ding noises.