For many people with ADD / ADHD a planner, organizer, calendar, or day timer is the first recommendation they receive. Ironically, it is probably also one of the things they have already tried a million times before.
You see, people with ADD are not dumb. Far from it. Most ADDers are actually quite intelligent, and even more are very self-aware. It doesn’t take long after you notice that you are different from everyone else before you start trying to figure out how you are different, and eventually why you are different.
For students to professionals with ADD one of the first things they’ll notice is that they are disorganized. ADHD can be manifested in many different ways, but one of the most common traits is a lack of organization, whether it is losing important papers, or just your car keys, or whether its forgetting important meetings, or forgetting to eat lunch. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come up with the notion that if you could just get organized and keep track of all those important things better, that might change how things go down for you.
The irony is that for most ADD / ADHD adults, just remembering to actually pull out the planner and look at it is half the challenge. That is if you’ve already mastered the part about actually remembering to do the mundane easily forgotten task of writing down those important things in your planner in the first place.
Twice the Planners or Planner 2X
The frustration of having, starting, and using so many calendars or planners only to fall into the same old pattern of forgetting not just the meeting, but also to write the meeting down in the planner in the first place is one that drives some ADD / ADHD people to periodically throw their hand up in the air and just give up on the whole planner thing. Interestingly, the answer might be to take the opposite course.
Of course, everyone is different, but for ADD businesspeople who spend a majority of their workday at a desk, the solution to the organization dilemma may lie in a simple ADD trick for organization.
The first part is the same one that every ADD coach, every ADD book, and every ADD group suggests: Get a good planner that you like and is small enough that you will actually carry it around with you.
The second part is where the magic happens.
Get a big monthly calendar to put on top of your desk. This is your 2X calendar.
The desk blotter style works great if you can handle it covering that much of your desk, but if not, a smaller calendar works just as well. The key is that it must sit on your desk in the main work area, whether that is under / in front of your keyboard, or under your mouse, or where you fill in forms. Something like this work just fine.
Do not use a calendar on the wall, a calendar across the room, or put a calendar on a table or section of desk that you don’t always use every day. This is supposed to be in your face on your main workspace.
The best calendars are plain without any pictures to take up extra room. You want a calendar that is as big as you can stand having on your desk all day every day. For me, I threw away my mouse pad and use my 2X calendar for my mouse.
The point is that you now have a paper calendar that is virtually begging to be written on, front and center on your primary work area. This will distract you.
That is right, the calendar will distract you. You have just turned your ADD traits into a strength to help you.
Imagine, you are talking on the phone. It is a long boring conversation. You look down at your blank calendar. You might as well write something on it. How about the Tuesday Morning staff meeting. It doesn’t really need to be written down since you have it every week (and are late to 1/3 of the time anyway because your forget what day of the week it is), but you will write it down because you have been distracted by the calendar.
Later, you might get distracted by the fact that you don’t have any blue on the calendar and you’ll write something else down.
When your boss calls in the middle of a detailed project and tells you about the client meeting on the 13th, you would normally go back to your task after hanging up the phone because you were in the middle of something and didn’t want to lose your thoughts by finding your new day timer (is it still in your bag that your brought from home?).
Of course, by the time you get to a stopping place, you have forgotten to write it down, and your organizer sits unused in the bottom of your drawer. But, with your 2X calendar sitting right there on top of your desk, you can just grab your pen and scribble something down really fast without having to find and pull out your planner while you are still on the phone. Then, when you finish what you were doing your wandering eyes will scan across the date, see what you scribbled and that is when you will grab your little Filofax calendar that you bought especially to get more organized and jot it down.
The 2X calendar won’t help you remember to check your little Franklin Covey planner each morning, but since it is sitting on top of your desk, IT might be what reminds you of all those important little events instead. And, if in doing so, it gets you used to checking and adding things to your real day planner more often, then so much the better.