How to Stay on Top of Your To-Do List When You Have a Spotty Memory

by Nathalie Pedicelli, ADHD Organizer Coach at Organize.Thrive.Monetize.

I’m an ADHD Organizer Coach. That’s a Professional Organizer who has ADHD Coach training. I am a fanatic of writing things down. It helps compensate for my Swiss-cheese-like ADHD memory! (And it’s only getting worse as I get older.)  I cringe at networking events when someone suggests we meet but they don’t pull out their planner or phone to take note. Needless to say, these appointments don’t always happen. Networkers who take the time to write our business meeting in their planner show up. And I am more likely to recommend them to my clients and acquaintances.

Writing Benefits for ADHD

Studies show that for adults with ADHD, our ability to remember is much better when we write things down. It’s much better than typing. I recommend to ALL my clients to use a paper planner. For those who choose to go digital, I recommend using a stylus to enter data rather than typing. A pro-digital planner client put the idea to the test for two weeks. He couldn’t believe how much better he remembered everything when he wrote items in his digital planner.

What I’ve Discovered About Planners

My 35+ years of experience using a paper planner have made me realize:

  1. Weekly views over 2 pages work best, with the week starting on Monday.
  2. You must have a place to write in daily tasks.
  3. You need a section to write-in appointments. Choose one with pre-printed time slots with 30-minute intervals. It’s easy to spot openings to schedule meetings or appointments.
  4. You need space to record random information. Friend’s suggest books. Co-workers suggest apps. And you need space to record your genius ideas!
  5. Write all meeting or appointment information in your planner when you make it. The address, phone number, items to bring to the appointment. It’s always best if you show up on time at the right place!

The Good News Revelation

Three years ago, I set out to find the “Perfect Planner”.  I investigated several dozen models, online and in stores. All weekly-view planners emphasized appointment schedule space or task writing space. None provided space for both, let alone space for creative thinking. I joined ADDA around that time. That’s how I heard of the Planner Pad planner, an ADHD-friendly planning system. I decided to give it a try. After all, Planner Pad promised if I didn’t like it after 6 months, I could get my money back!  How could I go wrong?

Well, I never made it to 6 months. I was a convert! In less than a month, I was a Planner Pad addict.  I had one place to write down my ideas, tasks, appointments, expenses and random things. All in an easy to use format! I even had space to break projects into smaller tasks. I could schedule those over several days. That’s what I call the “Brain Dump” space at the top of the Planner Pad page. No more forgetting those all-important steps to make an event happen. Or worrying about forgetting them! 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, this one encourages you to bring forward yet-to-be-done tasks. Were they too ambitious for the assigned day? Carried over from last week? No problem. And it helps our ADHD brains reflect and ask ourselves, “Is this a realistic time frame to get that task done?” Often, I push those “wish list” tasks several weeks later in my Planner Pad. It lets me focus on things I need to do now.  When you bring everything to the current week or later, you clip off the top of the previous week’s page. Now you know, you haven’t forgotten anything in the past and everything is in the present (or future).

Spreading the Planner Pad Philosophy

Since moving to the Planner Pad three years ago, I recommend it all the time. I have recommended it to hundreds of clients, friends and acquaintances. Many have gotten their copy and loved it. Some opted to buy it without me mentioning it. They see me writing in it and get curious about my planner. I use several colored erasable pens to make tasks and appointments stand out. My favorite pens are the Frixion clicker pens by Pilot. I love Planner Pads so much, I listed it as a resource on my website (before they had an affiliate program. I’m a fan!)

It Gets Even Better…

Before writing this article, I discovered Planner Pads offers an affiliate program. We can all get a little reward to promote a product we love.

The Planner Pad comes in different sizes, styles and start dates. Here are some of my recommendations:

Spiral Bound or Loose-Leaf

  • Choose 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

  • The Executive size gives you more space to write things down.

Banker Green or Business Black Font

  • The black’s high contrast makes it easier to read against the white background.
  • The layout isn’t eye-catching. Use stickers, hand-drawn colored stencils or washi tape to add your own flavor.

Custom-sized Protective Covers

  • Give you pockets to carry papers
  • Go for a zipper closure so nothing falls out.
  • Flashy colors make it easier to spot your planner in a cluttered environment.
  • Mine still looks new after three years of daily use and abuse.

Custom Planner Start Dates

  • Every Planner Pad holds 12 months of your life in a spiral bound format.
  • You can select a ‘start date’ of January 1st, April 1st, July 1st or October 1st.


  • The clip-in moveable Daily Page marker ruler helps find the current week.

Time to Place an Order?

In the United States, standard shipping gets one Planner Pad to your door in 7-12 business days for less than $10. For Canadians like me, it can get pricey. Shipping is three times more, not counting the exchange rate. I often order mine and my clients together so we split shipping costs.


If you are ordering a Planner Pad, you can take advantage of their Introductory Offer. That’s 27% off the Intro Set. As an ADDA member, you save an extra 20% using the promo code:  ADDA19B

What do you think?

I’d love to hear your feedback on the Planner Pad.

Share your comments below.

Happy planning!


With over 25 years organizing people, events and places, Nathalie Pedicelli been a featured speaker at leading international conferences. She’s train other Professional Organizers at NAPO, Coaches at the International ADHD Conference and Health Care Practitioners at CADDRA, on how organization helps people with ADHD live a less chaotic, less stressful and more productive life. 


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      • semeagher1
      • June 29, 2020

      I love the idea of the Planner Pad I try to use it, but my handwriting is so big I can’t often fit all I need it. (I can’t even finish the name or number of something to make note of an appointment). I might try Trello, or something similar. I like the idea of the ‘brain dump” narrowing things down but is hard when my handwriting simply won’t fit.

      • Reply

        Nothing says you have to confine yourself to the lines! I also write big so I tend to skip a line between to-dos & only use the in between lines if a really packed day (Except for appointments). I often use the number notation and finish the details in the notes section or in the brain dump zone. Just keep in mind our brain remember better when we physically do the actio of writing over typing. Either way, as long as it works for you.

      • Carolyn Morris
      • December 6, 2019

      I am searching for a good planner. I have always preferred paper / pencil method in my former work settings for scheduling / planning. I looked at the Planner Pad online with all sorts of hope! Unfortunately, I am unable to see the images clearly from my computer. I am also accustom to looking at the entire month on one page. It seems to help me plan visually as well as psychologically! : ) Would you suggest I give it a try anyway? I am making steps to set up a private mental health practice and my clients will be scheduled (self scheduling) on line. Not sure this planner would help in my future work place. Would this planner be helpful for my very long “to do list” for my home? I can really use some help there.

      • Reply

        Hello Carolyn. There is a 1 page view of each month. I suggest you give it a try. They have a policy that if you do not like it, you can return it within a 6 month window. Alternatively, you can purchase a planner that started in July 2019 for 60% off (so only $11.99 instead of $32.49, and the ADDA discount code mentioned in my article might work. However, not sure the 6 month guarantee applies to the ones on special). Here is the link to the ‘On Sale’ page:

        • rosalie
        • December 13, 2019

        At least some of the layouts provide a month-at-a-glance style page for each month. I’m like you, I need to get a “jet-liner” view of my time (month), then the “bird’s-eye” view (week), as well as the daily details. If you go to the “intro set” link near the end of the article, you can see more details and formats.

    1. Reply

      It’s a great time of year to order it. Check out the discount codes mentioned in the article to get the best offer possible. Let us know how the Planner Pad works out for you.

      • Sheila
      • November 28, 2019

      I have used a Planner Pad for the last 3 years, and find it fantastic – despite the cost of shipping to Ireland. I don’t carry it around, it stays on a table at home, so I supplement it with a digital calendar to avoid double bookings (my downfall! Well, one of the many). But I have a life long habit of writing things in order to remember them, and a total digital solution would not work for me. I actually enjoy planning my week using this system! At month end I do a review of the month on one of the blank pages, which helps me plan the upcoming one. I think it is an excellent, clear, system. I am much clearer as to where I stand with things, although I will admit to having a master to-do list system on Trello which reduced the bits of paper lying around the house very considerably. (That masterlist contains enough for a few lifetimes, but having it in one place, and easy to edit, gives me a clearer picture of when I need to move future plans into the present).

      • Reply

        Sheila, glad to hear the Planner Pad works for you. You have adapted it to a way that works for YOU! The challenge may be in getting those items on your master to-do list in Trello into actionable items in the Planner Pad. Keep us posted on your progress.

      • Karen
      • November 27, 2019

      I want to order a planner, I seriously need a planner.

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