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

ADHD planners are a great way to improve your organizational and time management skills if you struggle with meeting deadlines and planning your day. One TikTok user remarked that her ADHD planner app “is life-changing.” In today’s article, we discuss all things ADHD planners: how to use them, the benefits, and key features. Additionally, we check the science behind these planners and ultimately decide if they’re worth the hype.

Key takeaways:

What is an ADHD planner?

People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often struggle with staying focused, organizing their tasks efficiently, and managing their time. All of these aspects can become overwhelming if left ignored for too long, and a planner tailored to ADHD could significantly improve productivity and reduce stress. An ADHD-friendly planner or organizer helps keep track of everything — from deadlines to simple daily tasks, like brushing your teeth or making the bed. These planners can come in paper or digital format, so you can easily have them on hand.

Benefits of ADHD planners

ADHD planners work best when combined with other ADHD treatments, such as behavioral therapy, prescribed medications, and other methods recommended by your medical provider. While an ADHD planner can aid in organizing your thoughts, it alone won’t be as effective as coupled with other ADHD management strategies. These include regular exercise, mindfulness techniques, and support from healthcare professionals when and if needed.

How to use an ADHD planner

First, you need to choose an ADHD planner that is most suitable for your needs. It would be good to try out the paper version and the app version to see which one you like better. Each has its pros and cons, and it would be good to explore both options before deciding.

Second, set aside some time each day to review and update your planner. A consistent routine will help you build a habit of using your planner and manage your day effectively. It may take time, but with some patience, you will be able to incorporate this tool into your day to day life.

Lastly, ADHD planners are meant to be flexible, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your plans change throughout the day or week. You can adapt and adjust as needed.

10 key features of an ADHD planner

Both paper and app-based ADHD planners have several useful features that can aid with focus and daily tasks. If you’re thinking about investing in an ADHD planner, here are some things to consider before purchase:

  1. Simplicity and clarity. The layout of the planner should be simple, easy to understand, and with no overwhelming graphics or colors. Many ADHD planners come with built-in visual keys to help with reminders and avoid distractions.
  2. Time blocking. To effectively manage your time, some planner options integrate time-blocking techniques to help you focus on specific tasks for set periods.
  3. To-do lists. An ADHD planner should have enough space for lengthy to-do lists. By switching, categorizing, and structuring tasks, you can prioritize your responsibilities more easily.
  4. Reminders. Some planners may come with reminders or alerts when it’s time to switch tasks, helping to stay on schedule.
  5. Goal tracking. A sense of progress and accomplishment are great motivators to adhere to deadlines, and some planners allow tracking short-term and long-term goals.
  6. Flexibility. As people with ADHD may experience sudden shifts in their routines, it’s essential that a planner accommodates changing plans and schedules.
  7. Space for notes. Ample space for jotting down thoughts, ideas, and essential information can help avoid mental clutter and stay organized.
  8. Visual cues. Color-coding or highlighting sections provide cues and help users quickly identify tasks, categories, and important information.
  9. Positive reinforcement. Some planners come equipped with positive reinforcement, like motivational quotes, to boost morale and a sense of achievement.
  10. Accomplishments. The final section of some planners includes a blank space or a specific section to jot down your accomplishments. Listing your daily achievements and tasks you have completed will provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

ADHD planner apps

ADHD planner apps are accommodating and convenient for organizing your thoughts on the go. No need to worry if you leave your device at home — these apps have a lot of flexibility and can be used across several connected devices.

Additionally, apps allow for quick access to entries that, on a paper version, might take time to locate. They also come with preset alerts for appointments, deadlines, and important information that can be customized to your liking. Easy-made adjustments reduce the pressure of managing everything yourself, significantly lowering stress levels.

They promote self-regulation and encourage users via visual and auditory cues and positive reinforcement. Ultimately, they have shown to help improve executive functioning in people with ADHD.

The hype surrounding ADHD planner apps comes from the fact that they are tailored to aid common ADHD struggles and challenges, like time management, organizational skills, and productivity. Furthermore, most, if not all, ADHD planners are user-friendly, so they aren’t overwhelming or difficult to use.

What does science say?

Unfortunately, there have been no studies examining the benefits of ADHD planners for ADHD individuals facing cognitive and behavioral difficulties. However, several studies agree that ADHD significantly impairs time management and organizational skills, which could be detrimental to job performance and interpersonal relationships. ADHD planners could be a potential aid to address and manage these issues.

Research indicates that people with ADHD have a distinct perception of time. This, combined with difficulties in executive functioning, can negatively impact their ability to plan. Taking this into account, ADHD planners help bring structure into a disarrayed routine and help organize, plan, initiate, and complete tasks. As people with ADHD may often feel discouraged by the daunting prospect of coordinating their schedule, a visual aid could be useful. With a planner, prioritizing tasks, breaking them down into manageable chunks, and allocating time becomes easier.

Are there downsides to an ADHD planner?

As with everything in life, different strategies work for different people. Some people with ADHD might prefer digital ADHD planners, while others swear by paper planners. Both formats offer similar features and flexibility.

Finding the right one might take some time, so don’t be discouraged. ADHD planners need to provide a structured and organized approach to daily life, so thorough testing and research of the best apps or paper journal types is necessary to locate the most effective and suitable one for you.

Many experts and healthcare professionals agree that planners alone will not be as effective as combined with a clear ADHD management plan. Strategies like lifestyle adjustments, medication (if prescribed), or behavioral therapy are all beneficial practices that could be suggested by your medical provider. Use your ADHD planner alongside them and think of it as a tool that can make your everyday life easier. A planner who can become a valuable asset in managing your symptoms and enhancing your productivity is definitely worth the hype.



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