How to stay on top of your to-do list with a spotty memory
As an ADHD Organizer Coach (that’s a Professional Organizer who has ADHD Coach training), I am a fanatic of writing things down to compensate for a Swiss-cheese-like ADHD memory like mine that only worsens as I get older. I cringe at networking events when someone asks to do a meeting with me, and they don’t pull out their planner to write it down or type it in their phone. Needless to say, these appointments don’t always happen. On the other hand, those networkers who take the time to write in our business meeting in their planner, whether paper or digital, are more likely to show up, and I, as a result, am more likely to recommend them to my clients and acquaintances.
Writing Has its Benefits for ADHD
When it comes to ADHD, studies have shown that our ability to remember appointments and tasks is significantly higher when we physically write it down instead of simply typing it. While I recommend to ALL my clients to use a planner, those who choose to go digital are advised to use a stylus pen to do their entries rather than typing them in. One of these pro-digital planner clients decided to try it out for 2 weeks. He couldn’t believe how much better he remembered everything simply by using good old-fashioned handwriting to record the items in his digital planner.
My Key Learnings About Planners
Over the 35+ years I have been using a paper planner (we call them “agendas” in Quebec), I realized the following:
- Weekly views over 2 pages work best, especially those that start on a Monday.
- You must have a place to write in daily tasks.
- You need a section to write-in appointments. I highly recommend that it has pre-printed time slots, ideally with 30-minute intervals. This way you can more easily spot where your openings are to schedule meetings with work colleagues or that ever important medical appointment.
- You need some space to record random information, like a book a friend suggests you read or apps to check into and of course, some blank space to record your genius ideas.
- All meetings and appointment related information needs to be written in your planner when the appointment is made, e.g. address, phone number and/or items to bring to the appointment. This will save you time on the actual day of not having to figure out the location you are meeting at.
The Good News Revelation
Three years ago, I was on a quest to find the “Perfect Planner”. I investigated several dozen models online and in stores. Of those that did have a weekly view, most emphasized appointment schedule space or task writing space. None offered adequate space for both, let alone any space for creative thinking. It turns out that I had just become a member of ADDA around that time. They had an article on the Planner Pad planner and how it was an ADHD-friendly planning system. I decided to give it a try. After all, the people behind the Planner Pad promised that if I didn’t like it after 6 months of trying it, I could get my money back! How could I go wrong?
Well, I never made it to 6 months. I was converted in less than a month into a Planner Pad addict.
One single place to write down my ideas, tasks, appointments, expenses, and random things in an easy to use format! I even had space to break down projects into smaller tasks which could be scheduled over several days. That’s what I call the “Brain Dump” space at the top of the Planner Pad pages. No more worrying about forgetting those all-important steps to make an event happen. I captured these tasks in random order to later choose on which day of the week it would happen. I was in Professional Organizer nirvana!
Unlike other planners I used in the past, this one encourages you to bring forward those yet-to-be-done tasks, that were perhaps too ambitious for the assigned day, from the past week into the current week. In doing so, it provides our ADHD brains time to reflect and ask ourselves, “Is this a realistic time frame to get that task done?” Often, I end up pushing those “wish list” tasks several weeks later into my Planner Pad so I can then focus on getting those things that need to be done now. When everything has been transferred to the current week or later, you clip off the top of the previous week’s page, so you know, nothing has been forgotten in the past and everything is now in the present (or future).
Spreading the Planner Pad Philosophy
Since making that move to the Planner Pad three years ago, I have recommended it to hundreds of people, clients as well as friends and acquaintances. Many have gotten their copy and loved it. Some even opted to buy it without me even promoting it. When they see me writing in that business appointment, they get curious about my planner because I also use several colored erasable pens (my favorites are the Frixion clicker pens by Pilot) to make tasks and appointments stand out. I believe so much in this planner system that I put it on my website under the resources page of products I recommend, despite not getting anything to promote it.
It Gets Even Better…
Ironically, just before writing this article, I took a quick peek at the www.plannerpads.com website to see if any new products were being featured. Turns out, we can all get a little money for our efforts to promote a product we love. You can now become an Affiliate (see under the ‘about’ page)!
The Planner Pad comes in different sizes, styles and start dates:
Spiral Bound or Loose-Leaf?
- I recommend the spiral bound; much lighter to haul around.
Executive (8 ½ x 11 sized pages)
or Personal (6 ¾ x 8 ½ sized pages) size
- I recommend the Executive size for more space to write things down.
Banker green or Business black font?
- I think the black is easier to read as more contrast against the white background.
- The layout isn’t super eye catching. You can use stickers, hand-drawn colored stencils or washi tape to spice it with your own flavor for inspiration.
Custom sized protective covers that give you some pockets to carry papers in
- I highly recommend if you do get one of these, you opt for a zipper closure, so nothing falls out. Mine still looks like new after 3 years of daily use and abuse. Choosing a flashy color like fuchsia or tropical blue can make it easier to spot your planner in a cluttered environment.
Custom planner start dates
- The Planner Pad holds 12 months worth of your life in a spiral bound format. The good news is you do not have to wait for January to start using it. You can select the ‘start date’ as either January 1st, April 1st, July 1st or October 1st.
- Get the clip-in moveable Daily Page marker ruler to find the current week more easily.
Time to Place an Order?
If you live in the United States, standard shipping for one Planner Pad gets you the product at your door in 7-12 business days for less than $10. If you live in Canada like me, it gets pricey (like 3 times more, not counting the currency exchange), so what I do is I order one for myself and 2 copies for clients at the same time so my shipping cost per planner is split 3 ways.
If you are ordering a Planner Pad, you can take advantage of their Introductory offer which offers 27% off the intro set (https://plannerpads.com/introductory-offers/spiral-bound-introductory-offers) plus as an ADDA member, you can get an additional 20% off discount by using the promo code: ADDA19B .
What do you think?
I’d love to hear your feedback on the Planner Pad.