ADHD Planner: What Are the Benefits and Is It Worth Using One?

ADHD planners have helped those who struggle with meeting deadlines and planning their days improve their organization and time management. One TikTok user noted that her ADHD planner app “is life-changing.” In this article, we discuss the benefits of an ADHD planner, how it can be used, and its key features. We also assess if these planners are backed by science and if they’re worth the hype.

Key takeaways:
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    An ADHD planner can be in paper form or an app that works across several digital devices. These planners are said to help those with ADHD prioritize their time and help with better executive functioning.
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    There are several key features often found in an ADHD planner, including simplicity and clarity, time blocking, and positive reinforcement for meeting goals.
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    A planner for ADHD can help people create structured routines, set priorities, and manage their time more effectively.
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    Evaluating which type of planner is best for you can take some time. Some people feel the paper planner meets their needs, while others like the convenience and accessibility of a mobile app.

What is an ADHD planner?

An ADHD or ADHD-friendly planner or organizer is a specialized tool designed to help individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) manage their time, tasks, and daily activities more effectively. People with ADHD often struggle with organization, time management, and staying focused, so a planner tailored to their needs can significantly improve productivity and reduce stress. These planners can come in paper form or as an app that can be easily downloaded onto a mobile device, such as a phone or tablet.

Benefits of ADHD planners

ADHD planners are meant to work alongside other methods of ADHD treatments, such as prescribed medications, behavioral therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and other prescribed methods discussed with you by your medical professional. While using a planner is helpful, consider combining it with other ADHD management strategies, such as mindfulness techniques, regular exercise, and seeking support from healthcare professionals when needed.

How to use an ADHD planner

Using an ADHD planner starts with choosing the right planner for you. It could be beneficial to try out a paper or app version first to see which you like better. Each system has pros and cons, and being sure you start with the right method is essential.

Secondly, setting aside a consistent time each day to review and update your planner is important. This routine will help you build a habit of using the planner effectively and get you on the right track to managing your day. ADHD planners are meant to be flexible.

Be easy on yourself if your plans change throughout the day or week. Adapt and adjust as needed. Building the habit of using a planner effectively may take time. Be patient with yourself as you incorporate this tool into your daily routine.

10 key features of an ADHD planner

Several key features that help those with ADHD focus on their daily tasks can be found in both paper and app-based ADHD planners. These features may be useful when searching for a new ADHD planner:

  • Simplicity and clarity. The planner's layout should be simple and easy to understand, avoiding overwhelming graphics or distractions. Many ADHD planners also have visual keys to help with reminders.
  • Time blocking. The planner may incorporate time-blocking techniques to help allocate specific periods for different tasks or activities, aiding in better time management and focus.
  • To-do lists. A planner for ADHD should have ample space for to-do lists, allowing users to write down and prioritize tasks, making it easier to stay on top of responsibilities.
  • Reminders. Some planners may include reminders or alerts to prompt individuals to start or switch tasks, helping to maintain focus and adhere to schedules.
  • Goal tracking. A feature that allows users to set and track their short-term and long-term goals, providing a sense of accomplishment and progress.
  • Flexibility. A planner that accommodates changing plans and schedules is essential for individuals with ADHD, who may experience unexpected shifts in their daily routines.
  • Space for notes. Ample space for jotting down ideas, thoughts, and essential information can help users avoid mental clutter and stay organized.
  • Visual cues. Color-coding or highlighting sections provide visual cues and help users quickly identify tasks or categories.
  • Positive reinforcement. Some planners may incorporate motivational quotes or positive reinforcement sections to boost the user's morale and sense of achievement.
  • Accomplishments. Some ADHD planners include a final section where users can list their daily achievements and tasks they have completed. This can provide a sense of accomplishment and feelings of satisfaction.

ADHD planner apps

ADHD planner apps can be very beneficial and used across several connected devices to provide the user with the most convenient method of organization at their fingertips. They help enhance executive function and promote better health and well-being for those with ADHD.

An app's flexibility allows easy adjustments to changing schedules, reducing stress. Additionally, they can help individuals remember appointments, deadlines, and important information with an audible cue.

The apps promote self-regulation by integrating visual and audible cues and motivational features. They foster better executive functioning skills, ultimately shown to improve overall efficiency and daily functioning for those with ADHD.

The hype surrounding ADHD planner apps stems from their ability to address specific challenges faced by individuals with ADHD, offering an innovative and user-friendly solution to improve time management, organization, and productivity. The convenience of having a digital planner on the go can help to reduce stress and promote better executive functioning skills.

What does science say?

Although no studies have directly examined the benefits of ADHD planners for cognitive or behavioral difficulties in individuals with ADHD, several studies show that individuals with ADHD often struggle with time management and organization. People with ADHD also have impaired working memory, which may contribute to planning and organizational difficulties. Thus, an ADHD planner may be viewed as a potential aid to support these difficulties. Using a planner specifically designed for ADHD, whether in an app or in paper form, can help people create structured routines, set priorities, and manage their time more effectively.

According to research, individuals with ADHD have distinct time perception, which, in addition to executive function difficulties, may negatively impact their ability to plan. ADHD planners can support people who have difficulty organizing, planning, initiating, and completing tasks. Planners can help those with ADHD by prioritizing these tasks, breaking them down into manageable steps, and allocating appropriate time for each activity. This can improve focus and reduce feeling overwhelmed by multiple tasks.

Are there downsides to an ADHD planner?

It’s important to remember that different strategies work for different people. What works for one individual might not be as effective for another. Some people with ADHD might prefer digital ADHD planner apps, while others prefer paper planners. Both offer similar features and flexibility.

Ultimately, the goal of an ADHD planner is to provide a structured and organized approach to daily life, helping individuals with ADHD overcome challenges in time management, organization, and attention, so finding the right program that works for you can take time.

Many experts and healthcare professionals recommend using planners as part of a comprehensive ADHD management approach. Combined with other strategies such as behavioral therapy, medication (if prescribed), and lifestyle adjustments, an ADHD planner can be valuable in enhancing productivity, managing symptoms, and improving the overall well-being of individuals with ADHD.

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