The Best Planner for ADHD

What if you could “see” your time all laid out in front of you? Would it help you plan better and accomplish more? Yes, it would! 

I’ve seen it work over and over and over again with teen clients and myself. 

My goal when working with my teen clients is to help them rein in the abstract thinking of the teenage ADHD brain so that they can keep track of the factual portion of what they need to get done.

And I do this by building the habit of writing stuff down. Whatever they need to remember, I tell them to write. it. down. 

We don’t tend to think of planners in this way, but they are really a tool that allows you to “see” your time so you can manage it better. 

And for teens or anyone with ADHD, this is life-changing.

ADHD Hyperfocus Superpower

One thing I’ve learned about the ADHD brain is its ability to hyperfocus on one thing. People with ADHD have to train themselves to use this hyperfocus as a superpower; otherwise, it can get them into trouble when they go down a path of procrastination. 

Before they know it, they’ve watched one hundred youtube videos instead of completing their homework. 

And it’s usually because the homework is floating around in the abstract, whereas the youtube video is concrete, right in front of them, calling their name. 

To ensure that the hyperfocus works as a superpower, they have to turn the abstract task into a concrete task by looking at the actual parameters of the assignment and writing them down. 

When teens with ADHD form a good habit like writing down their assignments in a planner as they receive the instructions, it helps them to improve their time management skills and start to understand how long certain tasks take to complete.

Making the project concrete

What do I mean by making the project concrete?

Your teenager needs to keep track of three things in order to make an assignment concrete. 

  1. What the assignment actually is. 

The first step is having teens train themselves to take their planner with them to classes. When the teacher gives the assignment, they should pull out the planner right then and jot down the details on the correct date in the planner. 

Have they really read and comprehended what they’re supposed to be doing, or are they hyperfocusing on an aspect of the instructions that isn’t important. See my blog about the flashcards fiasco

This also applies to studying. When they study, are they studying the right sections, or are they focusing on the parts they already know?

  1. When the assignment needs to be done. 

This is all about getting their priorities in the right order. Maybe they feel like they should be finishing that English paper right now when really they should be studying for a Math test that happens a day sooner than the paper is due. A planner will give them a visual map of their priorities. 

To take this even further, you can help your teenager look ahead in Canvas, Schoology, or Google classroom and fill out assignments for the entire month in advance in the month-at-a-glance section of their planner 

  1. What they need to plan around. 

It’s important that their academic planner has a section for after school hours and the weekend. Teens need to see their entire week at a glance so that they know which activities are happening at what time every day and can plan accordingly. 

If they have drama practice from 6-7, for example, they’ll need to study at 4:00 or 7:30. It’s all about developing that working memory. 

Best Planner for ADHD

My friend and colleague Leslie Josel always says, “The more you see, the more you know, the more you can plan.”

Leslie created this awesome Academic Planner for teens with ADHD and I use it every year for myself, my sons, and my teen clients, and they all really enjoy them. 

My older son prefers the smaller version of the planner because it’s backpack friendly and he writes small anyway. 

I prefer the bigger version because it gives you more range to write. (I like to write. 😄)

And what my teens clients will go crazy over is all the accessories like the sticker pack and the page marker. 

If you’re working with your ADHD teen on organizational and time management skills over the summer, get them to write things down. That’s the first step to helping them “see” their time. 

And when you’re ready to help them get to expert level, get them to use a planner. It’s so helpful for bringing them down from abstract ADHD land to the practicalities of life. 

Psst… it pairs nicely with these fine tip markers right here! 

Just be sure to order soon because Leslie tends to sell out of these planners by October every year.

ADHD Coach Near Me

I know I’m not quite as active during the summer as I am during the school year. But you can still find helpful videos on all things teenage ADHD in the Guides section of the Facebook group.

And, keep an eye out for more info in the group because I’ll be offering some rapid fire coaching calls over the summer. It’s just 15 minutes to hop on a call with me to help you with anything related to parenting your ADHD teen. 

Stay safe and soak up that summer!