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Strategies for planning when you have ADHD

September 06, 2023

Strategies for planning when you have ADHD

Managing your time and staying motivated to use your planner can be challenging when you have ADHD. You may toggle between planning like a pro to feelings of overwhelm. 

But with the right approach, you can set yourself up for success so that you plan consistently and stay focused on chipping away with your plans and goals.


1. Create Your Ideal Planning Environment

Before diving into planning, set the stage by creating the right environment for daily and weekly planning sessions. Everyone is unique, so here are some examples to consider:

  • Noise Cancellation: Invest in noise-cancelling earplugs or headphones to block out distracting sounds.
  • White Noise: Use white noise generators or apps to create a soothing background ambience.
  • Music: Listen to classical or soft music if it helps you focus, but make sure it doesn't distract you.
  • Tech-Free Zone: Turn off or mute electronic devices that may tempt you away from your planning.
  • Declutter: Clear your desk of objects that might divert your attention while you're planning.

Remember, the key is tailoring your planning environment to suit your needs and preferences. Find a way to make planning into an enjoyable ritual, or else it might become a boring routine that you avoid.


2. Pacing and Time Management

One of the core challenges for individuals with ADHD is estimating how much time tasks will take. To combat this, consider the following strategies:

  • Extra Buffer Time: Add extra time between tasks or appointments to account for potential delays or tasks that may take longer than expected. It's better to have a cushion of time than to feel rushed.
  • Task Chunking: Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. This approach prevents feeling overwhelmed and allows you to focus on one step at a time.

3. Utilise Checklists

Checklists are your secret weapon for maintaining organisation and tracking task progress. Here's how you can make the most of them:

  • Task Lists: Create checklists to keep track of your daily and weekly tasks. It's satisfying to tick off completed items, and it provides a visual sense of accomplishment.
  • Prioritise: Organise your tasks by priority to ensure you tackle the most important ones first.
  • Consistency: Make a habit of reviewing and updating your checklists regularly to stay on top of your to-do list.

4. Set Realistic Timeframes and Goals

Overcommitting can lead to frustration and overwhelm. To prevent this, set realistic timeframes and achievable goals:

  • Realistic Expectations: Set goals that are attainable within your available time and energy. It's better to achieve a few things well than to spread yourself too thin.
  • Flexibility: Be open to adjusting your goals and plans as needed. Life is unpredictable, and flexibility can reduce stress.

5. Embrace Single-Tasking

While multitasking might seem like a time-saver, it can often hinder productivity for those with ADHD. Instead:

  • Focus on One Task: Try to do one thing at a time. Dedicate your attention to the task at hand, complete it, and then move on to the next.

6. Visual Reminders for Special Dates and Deadlines

Avoid forgetting important dates and deadlines with the power of visual reminders:

  • Planner Layout: Choose a planner with space for noting special dates, deadlines, and appointments.
  • Colour Coding: Use colours or stickers to highlight critical dates, making them stand out in your planner.
  • Alarms and Notifications: Set digital reminders on your devices to prompt you about upcoming events.


By incorporating these strategies and the right planner into your routine, you can unlock your full potential and achieve your goals.

Remember, a planner is not just a tool but a partner in your journey towards a more organised and fulfilling life.