Conquering the Planner Problem: Getting my ADHD to Play Nicely with my Planner
Despite being an avid planner addict, I’ve had a lot of trouble sticking with a planner. For simplicity’s sake, allow me to just list out of few of the key problems.
Reasons Even Custom Planners Don’t Stick:
1. Not enough stuff to put into my planner.
My memory sucks, but I’m not going to take out my planner and review it daily when I’ve only got 3 things written in it for the month. I have various other ways to plan out my days, like chore sticks, lists, and pre-filled homeschool folders. At that point, all the planner serves to do is make me feel like even though I’m busy all the time, I have no life.
2. Hit it and quit it.
I write my stuff down. I plan my days/weeks meticulously. And then I put it away and don’t ever look at it again……….
Yeah, it’s really helpful and a great use of paper and time. (That’s sarcasm if you didn’t catch it.
3. Bored with the layout.
Let’s just assume I do find stuff to put in my planner. What works for me one week isn’t necessarily going to do it for me the following week. What was once exciting is now dull and irrelevant. This is one reason why I advocate Bullet Journaling for ADHD folks. (Yeah… I just used the word “folks”… Have I mentioned I’m from Texas?”
I can usually go about 2.5-3 weeks on a single layout.
4. No new layouts ready.
But as much as I enjoy it, I don’t want to stop and make a new layout every 2.5-3 weeks. And that’s the downside to Bullet Journaling. But not having my layout ready when I need it is a big deterrent for me. The more time that passes between when I should have started it and when I actually get it done, the less likely I am to even bother.
5. Anticlimactic trackers.
I love trackers as much as the next person (probably more so if we’re being honest) but having a “year in pixels” mood tracker is just… well it doesn’t give me the immediate satisfaction I crave. I forget to go and log it because I’m just not thrilled about filling in one of my tiny 365 squares. I’d much rather log them in bulk and see a big chunk done. But as I cannot predict my feelings (or other stats) for the next 6 weeks, that isn’t a great option.
My New Strategy
As and ADHD mom, I am prone to swing from apathetic to overwhelmed in almost no time. I need a certain amount of activity and structure to keep my days flowing and to keep my brain (and by extension, my body) engaged. This is one of the reasons why I need a planner and it’s also the common denominator in all the reasons above why a planner does not seem to stick with me.
For a planner to work for me, it needs to be engaging, interactive, and necessary without being too time-consuming. I wanted to create for myself the perfect hybrid between a pre-printed planner, a bullet journal, and an interactive journal.
And so I have!
I’m calling it the PB&J planner.
(“Printable Bullet Journal Journal” is redundant. So I shortened it to “Printable Bullet Journal”, which makes “PBJ” and you can’t have “PBJ” without the ampersand. So there!)
I was inspired by my discovery of Bell Ringer Journals on Teachers Pay Teachers. I almost ordered one for myself, honestly, because I was feeling the need to engage the intellectual side of my brain and sharpen my critical thinking skills.
One of the hardest things for ADHD people is initiation. I just thought how great it would be to have my brain jumpstarted in the morning. (And throughout the day.)
That’s when I got the idea to jumpstart my own brain. I thought about adding fun stuff to my planner that would keep me engaged and moving. Journaling prompts, fun facts, inspiring quotes, daily scripture – food for thought! All mixed in with utility items such as “to-do today” and “what’s for dinner?”.
As I processed the idea of being guided through my planner, I got the idea to add single-day trackers to my layout. So instead of flipping to “sleep”, “exercise”, “food diary”, and “emotional health” pages and filling out one tiny spot, I have a neat little box to fill in and get that sense of completion I crave.
Of course, I can’t give up monthly and annual trackers altogether, so I have created those layouts as well. Now whenever I feel so inclined, I can transfer my daily data into bigger tracker sheets and get the satisfaction of having a big-picture view all at once.
But will it stick?
The boredom issue I mentioned before is still a very real concern of mind. My goal is to use the same core elements and create multiple layouts so that I can alternate between them. Additionally, I will have certain elements that aren’t used every single week or month to provide a – hopefully welcomed – change.
It actually takes a great deal of time to create these layouts digitally, but it has the benefit of being available to print and copy for all eternity, vs having to start over every single time with a hand-drawn bullet journal. And if I am running behind on creating a new one, I can simply print an old one and make-do, which is better than not having one at all.
I honestly can’t say with any degree of certainty that this will become a long-term thing for me. But I am hoping that it will.
I am also hoping that you will benefit from it as well.
So I can have one?
It’s still a work in progress, but I am going to put up a printable version for you to enjoy also as soon as I feel I’ve gotten all the major bits done. It will be more of a beta testing version than anything, since I’ve never done this before. But it will be free and open to your comments and requests for possible versions in the future.
I’m definitely not the first person to create planner printables, but I am hoping that my unique ADHD perspective will help others like me – or anyone, really – to get more enjoyment and use out the whole planner system.
So I encourage you to get to the free download as soon as it becomes available and give me your feedback. The more I can learn about what others need, the better I can meet those needs. And who knows! You might give me some insight into needs I didn’t even know I had!
Stay Tuned! Planner printable coming soon!