By Nathalie Pedicelli
People are curious about what I do. “What is it you do most as an ADHD Organizer Coach?” The most common thing clients struggle with is planning. Figuring out their daily tasks. Using their time (energy and attention) wisely. Starting and/or finishing projects. And figuring out what to do when. These are the big concerns. Not knowing where to start, and not keeping up with the demands of their family, friends, boss, and co-workers overwhelms them.
“What is it you do most as an ADHD Organizer Coach?”
The truth is that most people with ADHD simply don’t know how to plan in an ADHD-friendly way. If they do, it’s for the day. A few might plan for the week. A handful might look at the month. The unicorns plan their year. Many have a head full of projects and ideas floating in their brain but no actual date or action plan.
The outcome is predictable. The tech-savvy crowd use reminders or alarms on their phone for appointments and some tasks. Most don’t go beyond that. To-do lists are virtual and stored in their head.
So Many Tools
Those preferring paper tools use wall calendars, phone call reminders, notes and lists jotted on all kinds of paper. They use sticky notes stuck to something, the back of an envelope, paper pads and multiple notebooks. They can’t find their papers or lists when they need them, and their daily plan quickly goes out the window. They forget many tasks until someone at home or at work reminds them. Their workspace is often spread out over multiple areas of their home: the dining room table, the computer desk, the coffee table in the living room and their bedside table (recognize anyone?). Many times, their notes mix in with the rest of the family’s papers. Then someone is fed up with the mess and piles everything together. Now they’re in a box in a corner of the room, or in a closet.
You Need Everything In One Place
The first thing I teach my clients is to put everything in ONE place – whether digital or paper. Something like Evernote if they prefer a digital option. A dated notebook or planner for the paper lovers. We start with the Big Brain-Dump and find a day, a week or a month, and sometimes year to put it in their chosen planner tool. The key is WRITING (or typing) IT DOWN when it is fresh in your mind. Stop fooling yourself that you will remember it later. Chances are high that you will forget it in short order. Take 5 seconds now to save 5 minutes (or 5 hours!) and a lot of headaches later. There’s more to the process, like learning how to prioritize, but we won’t get into that now.
My Favorite Planner
My favorite planner to recommend is the Planner Pad. You can find out why in my previous article, “How to Stay on Top of Your To-Do List When You Have a Spotty Memory”. Here is the Cliff Notes version: Weekly layout + pre-printed time slots and dates + space for to-do lists + space to jot down general notes.
The Planner Pad is an easy-to-use tool. But it does require a little guidance before you will be comfortable using it. At first, people may feel it is too much to think about, but in fact, the Planner Pad reduces your mental clutter: all those things floating in your head. When you put it in your planner, you relieve pressure by storing those lists of appointments and to-dos outside your brain. All my clients love the feeling of control and relief once they get into the habit of writing everything in their planner. Many are even proactive planners rather than reacting to the latest fire at home or at work. It is goosebump-worthy when you see someone reach that level of confidence.
Create a Planning Habit
Bottom line, learning a new behavior takes time until it becomes a habit. Once it becomes a habit, you have less to remember. And you open space to tap into your wonderful and creative brain. Perhaps, you can then become the next game changing entrepreneur of the world.
A Free Webinar Recording for All of You
Learn more about how to get the best use of the Planner Pad. ADDA recorded a Webinar I offered back in 2020. It’s timeless, so I urge you to watch the Webinar recording, How to Use an ADHD Brain-friendly Planner Featuring the Planner Pad.
How to Order Your Planner Pad
Planning how you’ll use your resources (your time, your attention and your energy) is an ADHD-best practice. But it’s also something we all learn wrong. We don’t learn the ADHD-friendly way of planning — traditional “time management” doesn’t work for adults with ADHD. If the idea of becoming proactive in your life excites you, even better news! I’ll be running my “Planning Your Year” workshop that’s free for ADDA members. If you’re new to planning and you’d like some help, check the dates for when the next Planning Your Year 4-week workshop series is running.