Will You Help Me Free Yourself?

I sat, ashamed, in my supervisor’s office.

I hadn’t realized it, but over the past few weeks, my responsibilities outside my job had collided with my job duties.

I had double scheduled two client appointments, and forgotten a couple of other ones!

adult adhd help

After some serious words from my supervisor, and her supervisor (yes, he was present, too!), I knew I had to do something differently.

I had to free myself from distraction, forgetfulness, and disorganization.

As I spoke to a couple of colleagues, and analyzed my difficulties, I realized one of my biggest problems: trying to be too organized.  I’d recently signed up for a secure cloud based computer system for taking notes.  The system included a calendar for logging my appointments.  But I got in trouble when recurring appointments would change from weekly, to every other week, or to every three weeks.

I recall a college friend telling me, once, “You’re the most organized disorganized person I’ve met!”

What he meant was, I had all sorts of organizational systems, but I couldn’t seem to get myself organized.

I suspect I have some adult ADHD characteristics, including difficulties with organization and attention to details.

If you, like me, are sometimes held captive by disorganization, will you accept some adult ADHD help?

Here’s a simple first step toward organization and planning: the calendar and notebook system.

Don’t obsess.  Do go to your nearby office supply store and buy a calendar and a notebook.


Your notebook will contain information you need, information that is not tied to a specific calendar date.

For example, use your notebook to:

  • Record phone messages
  • Record To Do’s
  • Record directions to places you need to go
  • Anything you’d normally write on a sheet of paper that could easily be lost.


Your calendar is your master appointment locator.  You can also schedule To Do items from your notebook into your calendar.

Make Resistance Your Friend

I’ve heard Michael Hyatt talk about the concept of resistance, coined by Steven Pressfield in The War of Art.

The more resistance you feel, the more important your change is.

Here are some things you may say or think to yourself:

  • “I don’t have room in my bag for a calendar.”
  • “It’s a hassle to have to bring a notebook everywhere with me.”
  • “I’ve never been an organized person, so why start now?”
  • “If I write down my appointments and assignments, I’ll then be responsible for them.”

Overcoming the Resistance

The best way to overcome the resistance is to accept it.  Just say to yourself, “I know you! You’re Resistance, coming to tell me how important and worthwhile it is to change!”

Rules for the Calendar and Notebook

  1. The calendar and notebook replace ALL pieces of paper.
    1. No more pieces of paper!  They’ll get lost.  Instead of keeping an appointment slip, business card, or anything else, copy the information into your notebook.
  2. Phone messages from voice mail or other places go into the notebook.
    1. Log all phone messages into your notebook as a To Do item.
    2. If you keep the notebooks after they are full, you can refer back to them if you need information in the future.
    3. If you enter the date when the tasks you complete them, you’ll have a record of your work, if anyone asks you about it in the future.
  3. Write all appointments in your notebook. 
    1. It’s way too easy to lose appointment slips.
    2. Once you write the appointment down in your notebook, also make a note of it in your calendar.
  4. Use either the front or back of the notebook as your To Do List section.
    1. I’ll write more about a master To Do list in a later post.
    2. Look at your To Do list items and revise them every day as needed.
    3. When the list gets messy, re-copy it
  5. Don’t obsess about trying to get a “perfect” system.
    1. Don’t make my mistake – getting caught up with the bells and whistles of different online and offline organizing systems.  Just buy an old-fashioned calendar and notebook.
    2. Give yourself three months to stick to the notebook and calendar system.  You’ve got to stick with this one system long enough for it to work.

Once I went to a paper and pencil/pen system with my appointment book, I didn’t miss or double book any clients again!  It took some getting used to, and I have to force myself to keep it simple, but I’m becoming more organized!

Acknowledgement – Mastering Your Adult ADHD is my key reference for this article.

photo credit: Chris Campbell via photopin cc

How about you?  What have your experiences with staying organized with tasks and appointments been?  Please share your experiences and tips below!

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  1. Violet2 says

    I too have had trouble with automated scheduling, especially with every other week and 2 times a month, and changing from weekly to every other week. The holidays and school vacations also complicate scheduling. I have worked with families that had 3 kids in school and each school had a different holiday schedule. My best solution was a master paper copy, with enough space to record the original schedule, as well as a quick note about any changes made . Instead of using pencil and erasing a cancel, and writing over the erasure, I would note cxl, the reason, and note if a reschedule was made, and the reschedule date
    It seems there must be an easier way. But, when 2 clients appeared at the same time, I could rely on one sheet of paper that had all the changes as well as the reason provided by a family member changed . At times it seemed like a lot of wasted time, but was very helpful when I had 2 upset families at my office.
    I am looking forward to trying a few of your other suggestions. Thanks for all the info!

  2. Stephen Borgman says

    Violet, I applaud what was actually a very efficient way to use your calendar! Quite honestly, I think that sometimes we just each need a system that works for us :) Thanks for sharing your experience, which I am sure will benefit other readers.


  1. […] you would like to pick.  If so, use the other skills you have learned (organizing, to-do list, calendar book).  Then try it out, reflect on how effective it was.  If needed, go through the problem solving […]

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