December 9, 2021

The 6 planners I started using when I found out I have ADHD

Over a year ago, when I was (re)diagnosed with ADHD, I had to make some major changes in my life.

I did a lot of inner work but also spent a lot of my time focusing on being more productive and organized. As I researched, I learned why typical systems of planning and organizing did not work for me.

In my search for something more effective, I came across the Bullet Journal, which is a planner that ADHD people often prefer.

It wasn't appealing to me, though. It wasn't structured enough and the process felt like I was scrapbooking. This created more stress!

Then I tried others I found on Etsy. They were all too detailed, too plain, or (again) not structured enough.

It was so frustrating! Then one day when listening to a book by Dr Hallowel, I started to see why they weren't helping.

They were only solving part of the problem created by executive dysfunction.

  • Yes, people with ADHD need to keep track of things.
  • But in my case, my real problem with executive function was my short-term memory and sequencing.

Those problems made me feel overwhelmed, indecisive, distracted, and inefficient.

So, since I am a creator and designer myself, I decided to make something of my own.

To date, I have created dozens of frameworks, tools, brain-sorters, and planners. For today, I'd like to share the 6 planners I created and how they made me more productive.

Here you go... have fun!

1. The Big Picture Planner

This planner was really simple. It included an overview of what I wanted to accomplish and what I needed to focus on to get there. It also included was what I should stop doing.

This is an amazing document. I use it at the beginning of every month or whenever I am having trouble making a decision. Since my first design, I have added two more things to this planner:

  1. The reward I will get if I accomplish my goal (because we're really motivated by rewards)
  2. A section to explain how a specific strategy listed will help me (because I can forget why I decided on something, and end up wasting my time on something less effective)

How does this help with my ADHD traits

Someone who doesn't have ADHD may have the ability to keep all of this in their minds.

But like a lot of ADHD'ers, I find that I need to read something (in writing) over and over again though. Without that, I am very liable to forget or get distracted by other ideas.

I plan on framing it and keeping it on my desk when I do it again in 2022.

Want to see my Big Picture Planner? Click here to see it.

2. Yearly planner, Organized By Quarter

By creating this planner, I could see at a glance what I would be focusing on each quarter of the year.

It made planning and organizing easier to see everything on one page.

I have since made this planner a little bit more flexible. Rather than create a strict schedule for what to do each month, I just wanted to set a goal for the entire 3-month period.

How this helped?

Someone without ADHD might be able to be more specific at this stage. Or, maybe they could skip this entirely.

For me however, I was able to plan and organize in the right order due to seeing everything in relation to one another. I was also motivated to work on something in one quarter in order to get to the next set of shiny ideas.

It has been incredibly valuable to me to see what I have been reasonably able to accomplish in my first year of dealing with ADHD traits.

Would you like to see the Yearly Planner I used? Click here to view it.

3. The 90-Day Planner

With this planner, we're taking ideas from the yearly planner and developing them in greater detail.

My quarterly plan starts with the main goal for the quarter and three major actions to take to get there.

Part-way through the year, I created this planner because I felt I needed the smaller details to be separate from the big picture in the yearly planner.

How has it helped?

By focusing on shorter, three-month increments, I got less overwhelmed and distracted by longer-term ideas and plans.

4. The Monthly Planner

I created this planner in order to help me break down what's in the 90-day planner even further.

Since creating this, I have added a section to place my 90-day goal (so that it's right there in front of me when planning) as well as a small reward for accomplishing my goals.

How does this help?

Usually around the 31st of every month, I'm ready for a new start.

But later in the month, something happens. I can be overwhelmed to the point that I don't know what to do with myself on certain days.

The Monthly Planner is my way of dealing with that mid-month overwhelm. > When I look at my monthly plan, it's a simple reminder that helps me to avoid distractions, make better decisions, and stay on task.

I also use this in conjunction with the 90 day planner to create contact more strategically.

5. The Weekly Planner

The weekly planner was created as a way to keep track of important meetings, events, and due dates that I had throughout the week. In addition, I wanted something that would remind me of what I needed to focus on in the coming week.

Two new areas have been added since I originally created this.

  1. A place for a "brain dump". In a day, I always remember so many things, and I fret over forgetting them.
  2. A place to set weekly intentions. Even though we can't always change or do all the things we want to do, we can at least do one thing!

How does it help?

I have used this to make better decisions about what I do on a given day. In addition, it helped me to identify what I could realistically accomplish.

The average person without ADHD would go into way more detail about what they would do each day. For me though, I need the freedom to do what my brain feels like doing whenever possible. Using this allows me to do that.

6. The Daily Planner

As ADHDers, it can be easy to get distracted by easier, shinier, or more urgent things.

These things open the floodgates to our dopamine, and it's great to feel like we can focus on something for a while. Even if it's not the right thing.

Worse yet, we can forget that we aren't even focused on the right thing.

My daily planner is designed to make me look at my weekly goals every day. I also wanted to make sure I chose the 3 most important things to focus on each day.

I've added three sections since creating this.

  1. The Quick Sprints section is for quick activities I have to do that day or whenever I need a break.
  2. Appointments/Meetings: When I see these listed, I can plan what I need to do each day more realistically.
  3. Daily Intention: When it comes to changing habits, I believe our day-to-day actions matter most. This is why I included it on this planner.

How does it help?

Having flexibility and options is critical to me in my day-to-day life. At the same time, I don't feel good if I'm not at least making some progress.

This more flexible approach, in my opinion, is hugely valuable. I am making so much more progress and am happier, despite the fact that I make daily plans depending on my mood.

What should you do with this information?

Well... Start planning! 🙂

Regardless of whether you have ADHD or are just feeling scattered, overwhelmed, or distracted due to your lifestyle, hormonal shift, or ... whatever else... going through this process of getting clear is so, so important.

If you aren't able to go through it in your head, check out the whole collection to find out if they can help you. I hope they can!!!

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