(Originally published February 22, 2019, Updated July 28, 2022)
The calendar is a critical tool for ADHD adults. But many are not using it as effectively as they could to ensure they are planning their time in alignment with their values and goals. Learn some tips on how you could use your calendar better.
- And effectively constructed calendar can help you see whether you are spending your time doing what’s important to you.
- The calendar is also an important tool to help you remember where you need to be at a certain time, of course.
- It should be the heart landscape of your life and only include those things that you intend to do at a certain time and nothing else.
- The calendar is a reflection of how you are spending your time. So you want to make sure you’re organizing your time as reflected in your calendar in a way that works for you.
- You want to revisit your calendar during your weekly review as well as during your daily review and planning to see what you need to add or change.
Are you spending your time in ways that allow you to do what is important to you? When you use a calendar effectively, it can help you remember to follow through on your time and date sensitive commitments, do what is important to you as well as provide a record of how you are using your time. So then you can have a better sense of whether you are using it in alignment with your values and goals. However right now, you may not be using your calendar as effectively as you could to help you do this.
Rather, it might look like this. That is, you put task on there, like calling, emailing people, or maybe things you need to do after work, like pick up flowers and cake. You might also leave optional items on your calendar, like watching, participating in a live webinar so that you remember when it’s happening Though, you haven’t really committed to it because you do have two other tentative activities at the same time, including a lunch and a meeting.
And it’s not so bad that you have open spots on your calendar on Wednesday and Friday, as long as you decide in the morning of those days, what to do at that time. But if you either leave the times open or have overlapping activities, your day will be broken up by deciding what to do as the day goes on. And that takes a lot of time and energy and may mean you may not even pick the right activities if you’re deciding on the fly.
Alternatively, your calendar might look like this one. You just put appointments on it and then you play it by ear as to what you do moment to moment. This might mean you end up not necessarily doing what’s most important to you, but rather whatever catches your attention in that moment, right?
Now I’ll show you a sample calendar so you can see if or how you might want to construct your calendar to help you be more intentional about how you spend your time.
First, your calendar should be the hard landscape of your life. That is, its purpose is to help you remember what you’ve decided you’re going to do it specific times. If it’s possible, it’s best to have just one calendar so you don’t inadvertently double or triple book yourself. This might mean syncing more than one calendar. And, while you might want to use some of the specific suggested items I’ll show you on the sample calendar, my objective is for you to learn the general concepts about how to organize your time as reflected on your calendar. I mostly focused on the workday as that seems to often be
the difficult for people to schedule. But I hope you will apply the strategies to your personal time as well. First, please remember this is a sample ideal calendar. No one’s calendar looks exactly like this. Certainly not mine also while some of the activities were certainly scheduled well in advance you, aren’t going to schedule your whole calendar a week or more in advance. So, each morning you’ll want to look at your calendar and decide what you are going to do with your open time that day. First, you might notice that I’ve used different colors for different types of items. I chose green for meetings with other people, blue for individual work time, a light blue for travel time, orange for personal break time and a salmon for social/community time. Using different colors in this way can help you visualize how you’re using your time.
Next you might notice I have quite a bit of buffer time in between activities. This is to account for the reality that it’s difficult for anyone, but particularly adults with ADHD, to transition. You really can’t go right from one activity to the other. The buffer time also accounts for the fact that stuff happens during the day. So for example, if you typically have two hours of tasks that just pop up each day, you might want to leave two hours open each day and decide in the morning what you’ll do at that time if nothing does pop up.
Another item that I put in this sample calendar is a time to leave for work and leave work to go home. Of course, this alone, like anything on your calendar, won’t ensure that you’ll do this at this time, but it could be a helpful reminder. You’ll probably need other strategies to help you actually leave home on time and stop at the end of the workday. But setting the intention by putting it in your calendar is just the first step. You might also include travel times at other points in your week as well.
Next up is a time to both plan your day and to wrap up your day, as well as one time a week when you do a deep dive for weekly planning and review. Again, this won’t ensure you’ll follow through on these times. But putting it in your calendar is part of setting your intention. It’s just not enough to say you’ll plan your day if you don’t know when you’ll do this. And, of course, things change.
So you’ll want to revisit your calendar at the beginning of each day, to see if you have to make any changes. Of course, I put all the meetings on the calendar, whether they’re with customers or colleagues. I’ve also included reoccurring blocks for administrative time each day. If you decide to do this, you might use it to deal with emails or other discreet tasks you batch into this time. So you don’t have to spread these throughout your day.
You might also want to carve out a few reoccurring times on your calendar to work on bigger projects. As I did with the rev project. The focus time you see on the calendar is just that time. When you can do your deep work. You might decide during your weekly review how you’re going to use your focus time for the following week. Alternatively, you might decide the morning of the day that you have focus time, how you’re going to use it. Otherwise, you might spend your valuable focus time deciding what to do with your focus time.
Those are just a few strategies. And, while the content of everyone’s calendar is different, of course, I hope that the strategies I shared with you will help you use your calendar in a way that helps you operate day to day in a more intentional way in alignment with your values and goals.