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Strategies for Planning Ahead When You Have ADHD

Strategies for Planning Ahead When You Have ADHD

Strategies for Planning Ahead When You Have ADHD

If you have ADHD, you know that planning is key to success. When you fail to plan, you often procrastinate and struggle to get things done. This blog post will discuss some strategies for planning when you have ADHD.

Planning seems like a skill that should come naturally. But for people with ADHD, it can be a real challenge. After all, ADHD is characterised by impulsivity, disorganisation, and difficulty paying attention.

How can someone with ADHD improve their planning abilities?

To begin, make it visual. When we try to plan in our mind, we rely on our memory, which may be another cause of executive functioning difficulties for someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Use visual signals to help you remember and execute your strategy.

Visual cues could be as simple as setting the alarm on your phone or writing a to-do list. But you could also try more creative methods, such as colour-coding your planner, setting up a vision board, or creating a mind map.

Here are some of our favourite and most effective ADHD-friendly techniques to get you started:

Using a diary, planner, or calendar

Making lots of notes with your main points, such as “dentist at 1 pm” or “finish and send the report by Friday”, can be enough to help you recall what you need to do and when.

The difficulties begin when you leave notes all over your house, workplace, or bag. You’ll then have to waste time looking for them or forgetting an activity entirely.

Strategies for Planning Ahead When You Have ADHD

Diaries, planners, and calendars help ADHDers to keep track of their commitments in one place. You can use them to write down all the details of an upcoming task or event, such as the time, place, people you need to meet, what you need to bring, and any other important information.

With so many types of planners, diaries, and calendars available, it can be hard to decide which one will work best for you. If you’re unsure where to start or if you tend to buy new stationery impulsively, try an online search for “ADHD-friendly planner” or “diary for ADHD”. A simple notepad can also be a great ADHD planning tool.

Some of the diaries and planners I like include:

The Clever Fox Planner

A daily, weekly and monthly undated planner designed to help you improve productivity, goal setting and time management, the Clever Fox planner is undated, so you can start using it any time of year.

Purchase on Amazon.

The High Performance Planner

The High Performance Planner is a planner and journal based on the largest study of how high performers increase productivity and establish the positive mindset and habits required to win the day, created by high-performance coach Brendon Burchard, author of High Performance Habits.

Purchase on Amazon.

The Procrastinators Planner

A Daily/Weekly Organiser designed to increase productivity and combat procrastination – a six-month planner structured in a way that supports you in developing good habits, breaking bad ones and ultimately becoming more productive.

Purchase on Amazon.

The 6 Minute Success Journal

This goal-setting and mindfulness journal helps you concentrate on what’s essential, take action, and achieve success one step at a time. I’ve not bought one yet, but they are on my list!

Purchase on Amazon.

The HappySelf Journal (perfect for kids)

The HappySelf Journal is a beautifully made daily journal designed to help you increase self-awareness, develop gratitude, boost resilience and build positive thinking habits. With different versions available for children and adults, this is a perfect ADHD-friendly planning tool for the whole family.

Purchase on Amazon.

The ADHD Friendly Planner – The Anti-Planner

ADHD artist Dani Donovan has created the ADHD-friendly Anti-Planner to help ADHDers visualise and manage their time.

The Anti-Planner is available to pre-order on Dani’s website at I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

Using a visual schedule

Visual schedules involve using pictures and keywords to convey information about the order in which activities occur. Information about what will happen and when can be beneficial when learning new things or going to new places.

Visual schedules are ideal for little toddlers and beneficial to children of all ages, especially those learning to do complicated operations with several phases, such as brushing their teeth.

You can buy a pre-made daily or weekly visual planner from Amazon or make your own using photos, post-it notes, or index cards.

ASD Visual Planner on Amazon

Adults with ADHD can also use visual schedules to plan their day, week, or month. You could create a picture schedule by drawing or printing out images of the activities you need to do and attaching them to a wall or whiteboard in your home or office. Alternatively, you could create a digital visual schedule using an app like Trello or Evernote.

If you have ADHD and find it difficult to stick to a strict routine, a visual schedule may help you to be more flexible. For example, if you need to work on a project for two hours but only have one hour of uninterrupted time, you can refer to your visual schedule and see that it’s okay to do something else for a bit and come back to the project later.

Using checklists

We can easily recall all tasks necessary and which have already been completed if we keep a running list of everything that must be done. Feel proud of yourself as you tick off each item on the list!

Physical and digital checklists are can be used for tasks big and small, long-term and short-term. You could create a daily or weekly checklist of things to do around the house, such as taking out the bins, laundry, or watering the plants. Or you could use a checklist to plan a holiday, track your progress on a work project, or study for an exam.

Many ADHD-friendly checklist apps are available, such as Todoist, Microsoft To Do, and more. You could also use a simple spreadsheet program like Google Sheets to create digital checklists or write out your checklists by hand in a notebook.

Setting reminders

The days of depending on others for reminders are long gone! Smart assistants, smartphones and tablets now allow us to set reminders with an alarm for those time-sensitive tasks. Reminders to take medications at a specific time and reminders that there is an appointment in an hour are all examples of this.

Old-fashioned reminders in the form of post-it notes are also ADHD-friendly. You could write a reminder to yourself on a post-it note and stick it to your computer monitor, fridge, or wherever you’ll see it.

Breaking tasks down into manageable chunks

Tasks that are too overwhelming and can easily lead to procrastination exist. Breaking the work into smaller, more manageable pieces may be helpful in these situations.

For example, deciding to clean the house seems like a huge, daunting task. By breaking it up into each room, we can more easily plan out which tasks need to be done in each room. This makes it seem more achievable and manageable than a large, impossible task.

Another example is a work project that’s due in two weeks. Breaking the project down into smaller tasks to be completed daily will make it seem more manageable and less daunting.


It’s easy to get caught up in the small things or what we want to do instead of what we need to accomplish. When prioritising, we can determine which chores must be completed first and which can wait.

It’s a lot easier to get things done when you prioritise, as the essential activities, such as finishing an assignment or paying a bill, are always completed first, and less important chores are done when we have time.

Being prepared for the unplanned

Life happens, and things don’t always go according to plan. ADHD or not, we need to be prepared for the unexpected. This could mean having a backup plan for when our first plan doesn’t work out, such as taking a different route to work if there is traffic on our usual route.

It could also mean being prepared for a power outage by having torches and candles on hand or keeping a spare set of keys in case we lose our main set.

Making time for relaxation

Relaxation is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for those with ADHD. Taking breaks throughout the day can help to improve focus and concentration. It’s also a good idea to set aside some relaxation time at the end of the day, such as reading a book, soaking in a bath, or watching TV.

Planning ahead and using some of the strategies above can make our lives a little bit easier and less chaotic. The most important thing is to find what works best for you and your ADHD.

Do you have any other tips or tricks for planning with ADHD? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out our other blog posts on ADHD. 

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