How to maintain a Planner/Calendar/To Do List?

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    • #111349

      I’m 28 years old;diagnosed with ADHD-inattentive type about 2 years ago. Since the diagnosis and subsequent treatment, things have been going surprisingly well. Not perfect, but way batter than before.

      I’ve been looking for a reliable system to help me remember errands and appointments and things (day planner, calender app, etc), but nothing seems to stick. I’ve tried maybe a dozen different apps, bought every type of hard-copy day planner under the sun, started who-knows how many of those “RPG To-Do List” games, and even tried creating my own day-planner template, structured specifically to suit my ADHD brain.

      The problem isn’t the planner itself – it’s that I’m constantly forgetting to MAINTAIN it. Hard-copy schedules get forgotten at home and/or are too cumbersome to pull out and and use on a regular basis, while reminder apps get ignored, silenced and/or uninstalled because the notifications are too frequent/obnoxious – and because imputting data is too frustrating on such a small screen/keyboard. To top it all off, even when I DO remember to set aside some time to update my schdule, I can’t actually REMEMBER any of the things I meant to add to it! I’ve tried a 2-planner system, where I jot down quick notes in the moment, to transcribe into the master schedule later, but – you guessed it – the notes never make it that far; they either stay in a heap on the couch, or get lost somewhere in the ether.

      I’ve tried multiple mediums and approaches with no success – and in the end, the effort to maintain a day-planner feels more overwhelming than the fear of forgetting something important. The only reason I’m still trying to make it work, is that I very often double-book myself, and frequently don’t leave myself enough time to do tasks (taxes, chores, returning phone calls, etc). I’ve found that having a visual cue like a day-planner helps A LOT – but there’s no point if I can’t keep it updated.

      Any tips on how to develop and maintain good schedule-keeping habits? Any miracle apps to reccomend? Or should I just say ‘forget it’ and try to find another way?

    • #111618
      Penny Williams

      There’s a robust conversation with some great tips for this here:

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #111789

      Hi Penny,

      I have ADD-inattentive type too. I have tried all kind of different agendas too for around 20 years, paper and electronic ones. I have read about habits and time management in all kind of books, magazines, websites, etc. So, at least on my experience, I have never found something that works permanently. Having said that, there are a few tips I can share with you:

      1. For taking notes and to-do lists: Although I forget to look at my agenda daily, I still use one to keep everything that I have to do, shopping lists, notes about calls, appointments, accounts numbers, anything really. This has worked wonderfully because I know that I will probably will find the information I need in one place. This agenda is the size of a medium notebook and I have tried many many many different models and sizes through the years, taking a lot of time to pick the right one until I found the most functional one (and cute). I cannot always find the exact model every year, but I already know what to look for. So, you can try a few until you find the one that works best for you. I ended up picking the size of a notebook because it has to be big enough so I do not forget it easily, and small enough that I can put it in my purse, so I don’t leave it at places. And of course I forget to write things in there, but when I remember I just add them. And my to-do lists that are never ending will get crossed out eventually when I review them. I put all my to-do lists there. I make a list for everything.

      2. For appointments (after trying a variety of different apps): I use the Calendar from my iPhone. Although it is not perfect, I just put there every appointment I can as soon as i get it. And I make sure to put the address right away and the 2 alarms that come with it. Sometimes, I take the time to add appointments to the agenda too, but the important part is that I have it on my phone that I carry everywhere.

      3. For reminders (I also tried many apps), I use what I consider the best APP EVER: “Alarmed”, which unfortunately, last time I checked is only for iPhones :-(. This one FREE App, has so many options to set alarms, and it will nag you (if you want) until you mark it as completed. It is marvelous because i forget what I am doing at anytime, and this app will keep me on track of all the important things. So, if it is something that I have to remember on a specific day like fasting before a blood test next day or just remembering to get the dog out every 4 hours, or pick up my daughter from school every day, or taking my pills, or taking the trash out. I can set the exact reminder I need that will repeat the times I need and that will nag me until I do it if necessary. It also has all kind of sounds, so you can pick sounds that will really get your attention, which I need. For example to take my dog out, I have a barking dog ;->

      These 3 things have worked best for me, the trick is setting the appointments and reminders right away when they are fresh on your memory with as much details as you can, otherwise you might never get what the alarm was for when you see it.

      One last thing, I use these things and they work best when I am taking ADD medication or when I have slept well or when I am focused on what I am doing, but many times they don’t work because I left the phone somewhere or the agenda at home or a combination of forgetting, procrastinating or being tired. Just don’t beat yourself about it. Learn to get over it as fast as you can and just keep looking forward, and know that there are things you are doing that are great/right/perfect.

      Good luck and keep asking questions and trying new methods that will help you with your ADD, you never know what will work for you.

      La Princesa del Llano

      Never stop trying to learn

      • #121103

        Thank you so much! I really appreciate the advice – and it really helps a lot just knowing that I’m not alone in my struggle to maintain a planner.

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