Planning Ahead and Routines

With the ADHD brain… 😅

Planning and organization have been one of the more challenging “life skills” for me. My entire life I have been a “stationary nerd”. I LOVE planners, pens, notebooks, calendars, journals, etc. I have tried all the planners, notebooks, calendars, apps, daily schedules, and chore charts… You know what I have finally figured out? Nothing works if you don’t stick with it. They all usually ended up lost or forgotten about and a waste of money (they always looked cute though).

The funny thing about an ADHD brain is that as long as there is a high demand to perform, it kicks into overdrive and is almost unnoticed. When a task is thrown at you, you tackle it. Adults with ADHD usually excel in fast-paced jobs. Positions in inbound call centers, any form of customer service, construction, and most hands-on jobs with tasks that need immediate attention are especially good for the ADHDer. However, when there are long-term responsibilities, don’t count on remembering to finish them until the last minute. If you don’t forget altogether.

So how did I stay organized going through life un-diagnosed you might ask? Well, for my professional life, I worked primarily in customer service & fast-paced jobs, I was on it 🤷. Now, my home life? My method of choice was my ever-reliant “memory”. A filing system that is disorganized and often overwhelming. If you have ever met me in a personal setting you are probably well aware of this.

Enter the part of my life where I transitioned from a 9 to 5 high-demand job, to a full-time self-employed, virtual schooling Mama to two boys. The fun really started then… these demands are not scheduled by a boss, a customer, or someone looking over your shoulder to keep you on track. This was when I realized if I were ever to stay on top of things (and save my sanity), I had to figure out ways to make planning & routines simple. Which to me means, doing what works for me, not what commonly works for everyone else.

Here are a few of my favorite “life hacks” that might help you if you are anything like me.

Shared Google Calendars. For the entire family. I created a few different calendars here for different reasons. I have one that is shared with my husband and kids, one shared with my kid’s Dad, and one for each of my businesses.

Sharing a calendar helps me keep everyone informed. I have a tendency to forget to tell my family if I have an appointment, make dinner plans for us, schedule an appointment for them, or make any changes to our normal schedule.

I share a separate calendar with the boy’s Dad for the same reasons. This allows me to keep him informed on doctor appointments, school events, and changes to our time-sharing schedule if needed without notifying him about my dinner and work plans.

My business calendars are also separate from each other and the family. I don’t work your traditional 9-5 and the last thing I want to do is remind everyone every time I need to go to an appointment, meeting, or training. I don’t need to overwhelm my family with my work calendars so I just make sure to add a “mom’s busy” event to the family calendar if I’m leaving the house for something.

Weekday Schedule Chalkboard. Working from home with the boys in virtual school was a challenge before this board was implemented. I will definitely keep it up even when they’re back in school. The chalkboard sits in the living room where everyone can see it and it’s updated every Sunday for the week ahead.

My 5th grader thrives with routines and needs guidance throughout the day. He also has ADHD so remembering what’s next doesn’t always come easy to him even if it is a daily task. I was interrupted constantly when he would be on a break or lunch. I’d have to remind him to brush his teeth, work on his homework, do his chores, which chores to do, take his medicine, and switch to his next class. He had to ask me what he was allowed to do if he could go outside, if he could play a game, if he could have water or a snack, or even if there was just something funny that happened in his zoom class.

I have the board broken down by day and include a daily schedule. It specifically says that Mom is only available for emergencies between 8am and 3pm and when I have zoom meetings or scheduled calls that can’t be interrupted. I slip away to my “office” (aka closet) for these so if they don’t see me at the dining table they know where I went and how long I’ll be there. There is a chore schedule, what homework they need to complete after school & before free time, whether they are allowed on electronics or not if anyone has an appointment, and who showers first each day. I make their lunches ahead of time so they can help themselves and have snacks out so they don’t have to ask.

Alarms. This is probably the most simple “trick” out there. I use my phone and Sean’s iPad to set alarm reminders 5 & 2 minutes before school starts, before lunchtime (which is different for each of them), before they have to get back on zoom at the end of breaks, and before any zoom appointments.

When we have an appointment that we have to leave the house for I set an alarm 30 minutes before we have to leave to be on time AND when we need to walk out the door. I could probably afford to set this one 45 minutes before we need to leave, I’m pretty sure I’ll be late for my own funeral.

If you’re wondering how much time I spend setting alarms, it isn’t as much as you are thinking. When I schedule a new event on my Google calendar, it automatically sets a reminder notification and takes travel time into consideration as long as I include the location address for where I am going.

Tax Prep. If you work for yourself one of your biggest tax deductions (and often underestimated) ends up being your mileage. Being that my vehicle frequently acts as a mobile office, I need to be organized with my mileage and I know my memory is not going to keep those details on file.

MileIQ has been my go-to mile tracker for over 3 years now. Whenever I get into a vehicle it automatically starts tracking my drive. At least once a week I go through my logged drives and swipe them into their correct categories. At tax time, I can pull the previous years driving history and send it to my CPA in one document.

This is one app I pay for, but it’s only $5 a month and is a tax write-off itself.

Storage. Google Drive. I have separate files for my kids, my insurance, my receipts, my marketing, my logos, my businesses, etc. As soon as I download a document I add it straight to its designated file on my google drive.

Since I share my home computer with my kids and I’m often on the go, the device I work from changes frequently. Keeping everything on my drive allows me to access documents from any device I happen to be working on at that time. Even if I’m squinting at my phone screen while killing time in my car or at a doctor’s office.

Networking. Business cards are great and all, but do you actually keep them and file them for future reference? Well, I don’t. They collect in my purse until I have so many that it’s taking up too much room and I clean it out. If I need to contact someone who has given me a business card I am digging in my phone, not in a book of business cards and I’m pretty sure most others do the same these days.

If you have noticed the trend here is taking far less reliance on my memory and far more reliant on automation. What is your favorite method for keeping life “in line”?

Copyright © 2023 Coral Cribb, REALTOR®, United Real Estate Gallery All rights reserved.


Published by AtHomeWithCoral

Hello! I am a local Realtor® serving Jacksonville and surrounding areas. I grew up in the Florida Keys and have been living in North Florida for 17+ years. I am a mom to two boys (Steven & Sean) and a fur mom to three beautiful pitties (Bella, Ryder & Kane). In my "free time", you will find me at the beach, spending time with family & friends or somewhere enjoying live music. I am passionate about helping people, providing the best service possible, and promoting awareness about the amazing house hippo, pit bulls ;) I have been involved in the real estate industry my entire life due to following in my family's footsteps. In addition to real estate, I have 10+ years of experience in photography and digital marketing/social media advertising. Visit my website to learn more about the services I offer.

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