“Out of sight, out of mind,” a familiar phrase that can hit a little too close to home for many people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
This disorder can make it challenging to remember important details without clear reminders, resulting in missed deadlines and appointments or forgotten chores.
That said, having ADHD does not mean you’re a “lazy” or an “irresponsible” person.
The key to tackling this is to find a system that lights up and engages the brain. And that’s where the right ADHD organizational planner can help.
These tools function like a “second brain,” allowing you to track and manage your daily activities.
Find out how you can fully leverage the power of an organizational tool to get your life back on course!
What Are the Benefits of an ADHD Planner?
Are you wondering if ADHD planners actually work? And by planner, we don’t mean a regular agenda. We mean a planner specifically designed with ADHD in mind.
Planners can work wonders for many adult ADHDers, but they don’t work for everyone. After all, it takes some effort to remember to use and refer back to your planner.
Of course, if you make it a daily habit, an ADHD journal planner can help you organize your everyday life in many ways.
These planners help you keep track of everything going on in your life, leading to the following benefits:
- Timely reminders: Writing out deadlines, appointment dates, and pending tasks ensures you get to all of them.
- Better time management: With your tasks and deadlines laid out, it can be easier to prioritize them based on complexity and urgency. An ADHD planner can also help you time-block your week or day. This involves breaking down your days or weeks into smaller blocks of time, each with its own purpose (e.g., replying to emails, meal prepping, breaks, etc.).
- Clearer goals: A planner lets you write down your goals and break them into smaller steps. You can also set a mini-deadline for each subgoal to ensure you can achieve the desired result by the actual due date.
- Increased motivation: Planning out and breaking down your goals gives you a clearer sense of direction and makes big projects seem more doable. This can help boost your motivation and get you out of ADHD paralysis. Some journal planners also have a section for you to write inspirational quotes to keep you motivated.
- Reduced stress: Having your to-do list, schedule, event dates, and deadlines in a planner can help keep you organized and reduce the stress of forgetting important things.
The benefits of these planners are similar to those of regular planners. However, you may find that ADHD planners provide more structure and guidelines than standard planners.
These special planners may also include specific features helpful for the ADHD brain. Examples include a brain dump section or a spot to write down the reward for ticking off the daily to-do list.
Physical vs. Digital: Choosing the Right ADHD Planner for You
There’s no one-size-fits-all planner for adults with ADHD. But to help narrow your options, let’s weigh the pros and cons of physical and digital ADHD planners.
Physical planners, like the Planner Pad, which we review here, tend to be more expensive and may get misplaced or clutter up your work desk. However, many people find that putting pen to paper makes the planner feel more real and tangible.
On the other hand, digital planner apps, even ADHD-specific ones, are more affordable and convenient to use. You can easily rearrange, delete, and add sections or pages. While they provide more versatility, you’ll need an electronic device to use these planners.
You might need to get a feel for both types of planners before finding the one that works best for you.
Some of the best physical organizers for ADHD include the Happy Planner, the Planner Pad, and Rocketbook. And if you’re looking for free digital ADHD planners, Clickup and Notion are apps you can try.
Crafting Your Perfect ADHD Planner
There are many different ways to build your own ADHD planner. It all boils down to what you need. Is your goal to tackle to struggles of ADHD and money management, be more organized at work, or reduce the effects of stress and ADHD?
You can create a daily ADHD planner or a weekly or monthly one. Alternatively, you can make more specific planners to help with a particular area of life, like self-care, health, meal prep, or money management.
To craft your ADHD planner, consider what elements to start with to avoid getting overwhelmed. Here are some examples to get you started:
- A calendar: A calendar allows you to list deadlines, appointments, and events under specific dates, which can help you remember them.
- Timeline: You can draw out a 24-hour daily timeline. This lets you break your day down into time blocks of focused work for different tasks.
- Your goals: Write your daily or monthly goals in your planner. Keep these goals specific, realistic, and achievable.
- A to-do list: A to-do list can help you keep track of your daily tasks. Plus, crossing these tasks off can give you a sense of accomplishment and motivation. You can also gamify your list by adding different daily rewards for ticking it off.
- Brain dump: A brain dump is a section for you to write down unrelated thoughts. This allows you to acknowledge the thought and return to it later so you don’t get distracted from what you’re doing.
- A “Don’t Forget This” section: You can reserve this section for urgent tasks with nearing deadlines.
- Mood tracker: A mood tracker is a section to record your mood, thoughts, focus, and energy levels at different intervals. You can see how these change throughout the day and spot recurring triggers that affect them.
- Habit tracker: If you’re trying to pick up a new habit, like exercising, drinking more water, or taking a new medication, you can use a habit tracker to keep tabs on your progress.
Ultimately, the best type of ADHD planner is the one you’d use. A simple agenda book or a to-do app works best for some, while others prefer the more colorful and complex options. So, take some time to experiment with different styles.
Beyond the Planner: ADHD-Friendly Organizing Tips
Apart from using a planner, you can lean into your ADHD strengths and how your brain works. These tips help get stuff out of your brain where you can see it and be reminded of it at the right time in place to improve your organization and time management.
The following tips may help:
- Use sticky notes. You can place sticky notes with written reminders on your fridge, mirror, or other places you often look.
- Use a bulletin board or whiteboard. Have a board in your living room or bedroom to write your to-do list or reminders. This may be a better option than a planner because you’re more likely to see and use it. Plus, there’s no risk of misplacing the board!
- Set reminders on your phone. Add important dates, appointments, and deadlines to your phone’s calendar. Then, set reminders to go off when you need to start preparing for those events.
- Try the Pomodoro technique. This time management technique involves splitting your day into blocks of focused work and breaks.
Adding ADHD Planners to Your Organizational Toolkit
A self-curated ADHD planner can be a great tool to keep track of your daily activities. Alternatively, you can purchase a ready-made planner.
A planner is one of many tools to improve time management and organization. To explore more strategies and techniques, check out ADDA+, a resource library curated by experts to help adult ADHDers live their best lives.
 Kim, S., Liu, Z., Glizer, D., Tannock, R., & Woltering, S. (2014). Adult ADHD and working memory: neural evidence of impaired encoding. Clinical Neurophysiology: Official Journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology, 125(8), 1596–1603. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2013.12.094