Paper or Electronic Planner

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    • #105923

      Starting the new year and trying to organize my time for the first time ever. The idea of having a planner or writing things down has always seemed hideously mundane to me and I never knew why until my diagnosis. Now, I am hoping to gain some time management skills but am not sure where to begin. My first goal is to use some sort of planner.

      My dilemma is how to keep a planner that I can actually stick to.

      Is it simpler for me to maintain an electronic/app type planner or a pen to paper planner?

      The answer is probably different for everyone, but has anyone used something that you could actually stick with and actually helped you manage your life/time?


    • #105924

      I have to be redundant.

      I have 3 planners

      1. A regular planner which I keep in my bag so I can jot down appointments and keep from over or double booking

      2. When I get home I transfer from the “messy planner” into the cell phone calendar because of the reminders.
      3. I have a “pretty planner” which is my “final” draft because looking at the messy one annoys me.

      Yes I feel like all I do is work on planners and everytime I add a new activity or appointment I get stressed.

      Next week I begin DBT to help me *maybe*.

      • #106318

        I struggle with the same organization and planner difficulties. Currently, I put the appointments in my iphone calendar first. Then when I get home I transfer the appointments to a large calendar on my wall that’s right next to my door in order to make sure I see it everyday when I’m going out the door. I like the Large “At a glance” wall calendar. It has lines to write on in order to keep it looking neat. It also has a place at the bottom for notes. That part comes in handy.

        Also, I noticed you wrote you were starting DBT. I have been going to a DBT group for years and it has helped me organize my thoughts and changed my behaviors that have drastically helped my ADD.

        I got a lot of new great ideas from reading these replies. I’m always looking for ideas for organization and time management.
        Thank you

    • #105947

      I LOVE planners and journals. I have a bunch. But as you mentioned, sticking to it has always been the problem. I would get discouraged with dated planners when I would forget to use them and have blank, “wasted” pages and then I would just quit, telling myself I can never get organized, I’ll never remember to check my planner, etc.

      Enter the bullet journal. I use the Scribles That Matter brand which I bought on Amazon and I use a Leuchtturm for work. What makes these planners so great is they have numbered pages with a table of contents so I can remember where I wrote down important pages.

      I write my journal as I go and you can make it whatever works for you. I always do a monthly calendar (which I keep synced with my iPhone calendar by checking them against each other on Sundays). I got some cute little mood stickers to stick on the calendar to track if I’m having a particularly bad or good day.

      I added one of those cell phone stick on pockets to the back of mine to keep a small stack of stickies in. When random things pop in my head, I just write it on the sticky and stick it to the front until I open my notebook next.

      Some days I make pretty and intricate full of lots of things to track and some days it’s just a messy to-do list. In the front I have trackers for finances and other goals. Sometimes I update it, sometimes I don’t. I keep running “lookup lists” of random things I wanna look up online and then one day a week I look all those things up. It keeps me from getting sucked into too many internet rabbit holes.

      What I love is that it’s just so flexible! My biggest challenge now isn’t using the planner regularly, it’s just to not get down on myself if I forget to use it for a day or two.

      It’s taken a few months for me to fall into what works best for me (for now) but I’ve never used a journal for so long.

      I took some pics to give you an idea of what a non-Pinterest bullet journal looks like but I have to upload them to the internet somewhere to post them here 🙁 I’ll try and see if I can do that later if you’re interested.

      • #105970

        What a great idea with the stickies! I am always getting stuck in that rabbit hole and I fear I would feel too encumbered to open up my planner to write things down on the fly (pathetic, I know! Lol). I would love to see photos, but do not put yourself out for it! Sounds like a bit of a pain to upload. I so appreciate the “non-Pinterest” version idea as all of those adorable planners I would love to create and maintain would end up in a drawer somewhere. Thanks for your great ideas!

      • #106611

        Inside the back cover of my journal I have a small stack of 5-6 post-its stuck to the back page, so that if I have to quickly write down a phone number or an appointment I have ‘scrap’ paper on hand, then I slap it on the current day. If I get around to it, I copy the info to the relevant month or a collection page, but often I don’t. Having it stuck inside the journal still means it won’t get lost.

    • #105951

      I tried the Bullet Journal and loved it for a while! But when I had to draw out the whole calendar for the third month, I started to get annoyed with having to build my journal from scratch. I really don’t have time or energy for that. I still use my BuJo for daily to do lists and such, but not as a regular planner or as intended.

      I keep big events (birthdays, travel, appointments and things that need reminders) in a regular calendar app on my phone. But, I have to have a paper planner. Something about turning the pages and having something to physically write on helps me internalize the concept of time (which I don’t really feel naturally. It’s always now. 🙂

      One that I love and think is so beautiful is the Katie Daisy on the go weekly planner. The pages are so pretty and different, and I think that would really keep me engaged in using it. I’m in school right now and really need a full
      page per day to manage my schedule, otherwise, this would be my every day planner for sure! I wish she made a page a day one! Plus it’s less than $10, which is cool.

      Right now, I’m using InnerGuide’s Goal and Success Planner: Life Coach in a book. I’m still working through the beginning pages, but I like how goal oriented and reflective it is. More like a workbook/planner. Because it’s more interactive (and only 3 months), I’m hoping I can stick with/finish it. I struggled with goal planning last semester, and this planner is so detailed, I think it’ll help keep me on track.

      I’ve pretty much realized that no one planner will be the magic thing that makes me understand time. Even planners built for/by ADHD brains. My brain just doesn’t “get” time. So, I need to switch planners every few months to stay engaged and organized. It’s cool. Learning a new system is always fun and novel anyway. 🙂

      Best of luck to you!

      • #105971

        I could see that happening to me too. I made it a whopping one month with a dry erase board calendar that is now blank on the wall because I don’t want to rewrite the numbers! I had never seen that Katie Daisy one. It is lovely and inexpensive. Would be a good one to experiment with. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • #105954
      Penny Williams

      There are so many apps to choose from to help with planning and organization!

      Here’s a list of ADDitude Reader Favorites:

      “My Favorite ADHD App Is…”

      And here are top productivity apps:

      38 Apps and Add-Ons That Transformed My Productivity

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

    • #106069
      Ella C

      A plain sheet of notebook paper was how I planned my time for years. I would put down the tasks I needed to do, plan a time of the day to work on them (slightly overestimating) then cross off tasks as I finished them.

      If you use a desk at all, a big desk calendar to write important tasks/ appointments on is also helpful and quick.

    • #106253

      I have always been organized considering I just recently have been told about my diagnosis at 38. Using a cellphone has worked considering that is one less thing to carry around and today everyone seems to have cell phones. I have my schedule synchronized with my Google account in the case I lose my phone I can always check Google. I even get pop up alerts when I’m on my PC. Although, in my 20s in college I used an daily planner.

    • #106260

      I have totally been where you are. I work in a deadline driven industry where I need to proactively manage multiple clients, projects and deadlines, not tto bemention being married to a busy woman and having a 9 month old.

      About 6 months ago I embraced the paper planner again. Mine is a week at a glance and contains meetings, appointments, deadlines and most important, promises made. I also carry a small notepad in my back pocket and use it when I need to write something down before I forget it, but don’t have direct access to my planner.

      I tried using Microsoft Outlook calendar, Google calendar, and probably a dozen different apps. for me, with the blend of eating to manage home and work in a single place, as well as being extremely visual, the paper-based planner is the only one that’s ever worked.

    • #106263

      I cannot say enough good things about a paper journal called Panda Planner.. its a 3 in on combo of the month, week and daily list of to do’s. Also space each day to list what you are grateful for, affirmation, and other self care questions to get your day started off right.. =)

    • #106277

      I don’t have all of the answers, since I am struggling also, but one app I LOVE is Cozi! The best part is that you can access it from your phone or PC, and your entire family can also access it in real time. That way everyone knows what is scheduled when. You can tag each person a different color, so you know who’s appt it is, as well as where and other notes. It can be repeating. Also, there is a section for notes and lists, especially grocery lists, so items can be added on the fly, or when you think of them.
      This works awesome for most of my “life”, but at work I have so many projects, daily, weekly, monthly, and special, that I feel like I am always forgetting something. I just don’t know how to track them in a way that I don’t forget them. I would appreciate any ideas!
      Heather, Pharmacist, manager, mom of 3, and in process of adopting 3 more, ages 1,2,11,13,14, and 15.

    • #106288

      I have tried many different planners, and spent a lot of money trying to figure out what works, and it is a very personal thing. Our brains – even all ADHD brains work slightly differently as we all have different motivators.
      I have used the Bullet Journal longest. I like how flexible it is, and yes I do write my month out in calendar form, but if I’m pressed for time I have just printed one out on Excel (which I use to make many other forms that I use in my BuJo and elsewhere) to glue or tape in.

      I don’t worry about creative stuff unless I want to or have time. Most of the time I don’t, I have a sketch book for that. I have used it the longest now 4 months. I had to come up with the right way for me. I suggest going to or Youtube and search it up – as Ryder makes it very simple and encourages you to do what works for you. The Bullet Journal also has the Bullet Journal companion app which is only 3.89 and it only keeps stuff for 72h – the point is to use it when you don’t have your book on you, and to reflect in the am and pm to make sure you’re on top of it – which it also has a reminder for that you can set. I find even if I don’t use the log in the app every day, I use the reflection reminder to also remind me to check in with my BuJo at night.

      I also use my google calendar as I can sync it no matter whether at work or on my phone. I have separate calendars in my google calendar to separate home from work and can share others’ calendars at work (which we used internally).

      I use certain Excel sheets to track my self care routine and my symptoms, as I’m ADHD and Bipolar 2. If anyone is interested in checking out this sheet, you can email me at, I can also create something or help you learn to use Excel if this would be useful. I am actually an adult learning facilitator.

      Good luck finding what works for you!!

    • #106289

      I use MS Outlook and sync it with my iPhone.

      Additionally, I use Evernote.

      Finally, I use theme books to keep notes and records for reference. For example, Boy Scout Troop Committee has a book with notes related just for that. Another book for Marching Band. etc.

    • #106290

      Thanks so much! I am excited to try these out.

    • #106324

      The internet in my area isn’t super-reliable (issues with the provider and that is our only option…) so I bought a Day-Timer with each month on 2 facing pages and notes/action spaces along one side and lined on the back. It is big enough to not get easily lost in a pile of stuff and looks professional (I attached a tiny rubber chicken to the zipper-closure for “personality”).… Oh, yeah, the zipper closes the whole thing up so things won’t fall out! It should last for years, but the pages get replaced so if one style doesn’t work I can try another but don’t have to start 100% new every year. I remove old months as I am done with them/notes rewritten on designated pages, so that about the time I should be thinking about getting a refill, the binder has become noticeably lighter triggering in my brain to actually go buy the refill.

      Stickers sound like fun, but I need to keep things as simple as possible. I tried a “cute” notebook, but I prefer the streamlined approach- nothing to distract me or make me feel weird about. Carrying a glitter notebook into any job interview isn’t for me, but the rubber chicken (or his replacement) is a nice dose of artistic spunk.

    • #106346

      I use a mix of digital and paper planners and I’m about 80% in to finding my perfect system. I’m currently trying to break my projects into smaller sub tasks/steps, and I’m testing out keeping that in my physical planner on empty monthly pages – since I don’t use them. I regularly research planners and try using their templates in my journal before committing to buying their physical journal. One of my favorites is the Productivity Journal. I’ve found a daily or hourly template makes my life harder when I don’t complete a task so I’ve moved towards 1 page for a week of tasks and/or a running list (by category {house, personal, journal} rather than day {the Alastair method})

      Google calendar: all of my events go in here (+bill payment dates, birthdays, days my husband is off, etc)
      Then, once I’m home, I move them to a Monthly wall calendar that both my husband and I can see. This ensures he sees the events and we are less likely to forget about them. I circle the numbers of the days when important events are happening and write birthdays at the bottom of each day in colored pen.

      For a Master task list, I like to use Trello and order the boards by priority (High priority, low priority, etc)
      In addition to this, I also keep a handwritten priority grid in the front of my physical weekly planner. I have tried using the Prioritizer app, but I don’t check it as much as the Trello boards. (I’m considering deleting it but haven’t fully decided yet).

      :: WEEKLY:
      I’ve found I really like the Muji weekly planner in the smallest size. I keep it open on my desk and refer to it throughout the day and week. Inside I write the events going on that week on the lined side and on the opposing grid lines I write the template of the Sugar Planner sold at Target: 1) to call/email, 2) to visit, top 3-5 tasks, 3) lesser priority tasks, 4) things I’m waiting on (packages in the mail, hearing back from someone, etc), & 5) upcoming for events happening next week or beyond (like my debit card expiring). This is also where I keep my habit tracker for 5-10 habits a day. This week I’m trying to begin writing when I wake and sleep on each day to encourage me to establish a more consistent sleep pattern.
      I’ve considered buying the planner at Target but I don’t have Target in my country and the pages look very thin/as if they’d bleed. Also, the pages are much larger than I need and I would add extra stuff that would clutter the page and distract my mind from the tasks. Their template includes lined paper for each section and the headers are very small, and I’ve found my brain works best with grid paper over lined.
      In this planner I also keep a list of the books I’m reading + pages I’m on. In the front of the notebook I have a sticky note labeled “upcoming” for events I’m waiting for a definite date on so I can add them to my monthly calendar.
      I’ve found that using pen in my journals + colored markers helps my brain to notice them. Before when I was testing out various layouts (like 50+ in the past year), I tried using pencil to not waste pages in my journals & this resulted in my brain overlooking the tasks.

      :: Daily ::
      In the Notes app in my phone I keep a page open daily for my day. I list in here 1) what I will make/eat for each meal, 2) the places I need to go + people I need to call/email (+ the number to reach them and the phone hours), 3) smaller house tasks that don’t need to be added in pen in my planner as they take 5 minutes or less.
      I also use this to jot any ideas I have during the day and add them to my Trello board for “someday, maybe” projects.

    • #106367

      I have a little notebook (Field Notes, well made, small, durable) with me in my handbag at all times. Notes on the go – right there.

      And I have my Bullet Journal never more than 3 feet from me at home or work, with a pen clipped to it. My method of making notes is far from ‘pure’ bullet journal and OMG, I am so not artistic. I find something online and print it out and paste it in for a monthly spread. For the weekly, I take a ruler, draw 6 horizontal lines on the left page, add M T W TH F S S and the dates and whatever must happen on particular days. The right hand page I use for my things, both little and small, to do that week. And if I want to turn over from this week’s spread and make a list – books to read, planned home improvement, whatever – I do it. I add it to the Table of Contents (or Index) at the front.


      The idea of a Bullet Journal is based on Benjamin Franklin’s “commonplace” book, or what the Italians call a Zibaldone. It’s all your thoughts, in one place. Because I’m a huge Sherlock fan, I call it my Mind Palace.

    • #106372

      I use, and love, the reMarkable paper tablet. They even market themselves as “Think without distractions”. It’s on the expensive side, but I’ve had one for over a year now (backed them on Kickstarter). I love that I can have tons of notebooks (for different topics, people, organizations, etc) but zero apps and no browser to distract me. It syncs over WiFi so I can get to my notes anywhere. I no longer carry around a laptop at work and instead use my reMarkable.

      As an added bonus I also do most of my reading on it (ePub and PDFs).

      It’s definitely not a cheap solution, but I really can’t stress enough the benefits of the simplicity and (for my ADD brain) the lack of distractions. The pen is a good twiddle toy too 😉

    • #106319

      I used to use Outlook (online and desktop) to organize using the GTD (Getting Things Done) method specific to Outlook.

      However, I found that while that was good for compiling items, it didn’t help me really focus and ensure that I was getting the most important items done each day.

      I ended up buying the “EVO Planner” through a Kickstarter campaign — there are 4 versions, each suited to a different ‘brain type’ ( In the end, I was less interested in my brain type and more interested in using the various formats and picking the one that worked best for me (“Explorer” format worked best for me, even though their quiz said I was an “Oracle”).

      With the paper planner serving as my “focused list” and Outlook as my master list, I have found it much easier to focus and make sure I was consistently working on priority items despite distractions.

      I think paper and online/digital is a stronger combination that one or the other — too hard to maintain and re-prioritize lists on paper, and online/digital just has way too much information to be useful on a daily basis.

    • #106607

      Oh my! I could talk about this subject for days!

      I’ve been back and forth forever with both paper and electronic.

      It’s funny; years ago I relied solely on electronic, but now I can’t seem to quite embrace it completely.

      I use paper planners – they say the act of writing it down vs typing helps us remember – but I do it as much for the color. It’s motivating for me.

      I like that electronic planners offer alerts and that they’re more portable.

      I’ve tried bullet journals but never made them work.

      I’d say if you can find an electronic solution, go for it.

      I’ve used Cozi before, and as a mom, it was helpful for me. Not so much now. I find myself using a variety of calendars, mostly Google.

      Love this thread and all the great ideas!

    • #107655

      Electronic or paper depends on your preference and maybe age. I grew up with paper, and the first dayplanner i had in the business world was a franklin planner. I still use it as it makes sense and is in a format I became accustomed to. I tried a phone app but I am a hands on visual person, and that was too cloud-like for me.

      I also eventually bought a smaller, more manageable classic sized binder when the location in Franklin-Covey Denver location was closing. Having a nice leather, durable notebook takes it too a level of importance making it not easy to overlook or forget. I was stunned recently when a person about half my age, where I was paying a bill, remarked when I opened it up “Wow–now that’s organization. I just try to keep things on my phone, but you put me to shame.”

      I do best by trying to list only 3 important things to do a day that have an A (most important rating). Anymore and I get overwhelmed a bit. Good luck

    • #110339

      I have both! I have this wonderful planner I bought on Amazon and will continue buying, because it’s awesome:

      Clever Fox planner

      I use Google calendar a lot too, and note-taking apps like Evernote.

      I need multiple ones. I’m sure a lot of you are the same. One reminder is not enough. Two is not enough. Three is a minimum.

      I write A LOT because ADHD, so I need a fat planner, and just unlimited space on electronic planners and calendars.

      I also need a lot of different colored gel pens. They must be gel pens. They must be at least 10 different colors. And I use highlighters. I find using many colors works for me, because they’re pretty, otherwise I will just not read what I write, or not read carefully enough. Black and blue ink aren’t attention-getting enough for me.

    • #110480
      Dr. Eric

      I like Evernote because it is simple, it keeps a local copy on every device, but syncs them online.

      It doesn’t matter if I use my phone, iPad, personal laptop, or work computer.

      I also put in occasional reminders in my calendar to update and check my Evernote To Do list, because lists are useless if you don’t refer to them.

    • #111723
      Dr. Eric

      Asana use to incorporate well with gmail, because gmail’s tasks kind of sucks in my opinion.

      Does anyone know if Asana still incorporates well with gmail calendar?

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