Monthly Archives: April 2015

How I use my bullet journal now – April 2015

I began experimenting with the bullet journal approach long before my diagnosis of adult ADHD, and in hindsight, I can see that my deep fondness for paper planning was actually a way I was able to succeed (in many ways, albeit at great cost) for so long. Many of those who work with adults and teens with ADHD acknowledge how helpful paper planning can be.

Over time, I refined my approach to fit my specific needs, and I am enjoying the structure it provides.

Part of what I have done is create a double-page spread for every day and get very specific about categories of tasks and other items. Below, you’ll see that I put the time-specific scheduling at the top of the page. An appointment buried in the middle of the page, even when delineated with a special symbol, is an appointment I might miss. It also gives me a quick overview of where I have “space” in my day for the other tasks.

Double-page spread

Double-page spread

Below that, I divided my tasks into five categories:

  1. Phone calls
  2. E-mails
  3. Online (yes, e-mail is online, but I consider the e-mail communication and separate it out)
  4. Errands
  5. Work (at this time, it was prep for a conference presentation…heading changes)

I also have experimented with sections like “fun” and “notes” — see above. On other days, I have added a section with the affectionately-titled “nag” list for items that are reminders to check in with kids on chores, practicing music, and other items I want to emphasize (cough::flossing::cough). There’s some fluidity based on priorities at the time. Do I feel like routines need to be emphasized with the kids? Nag list. Do I feel like I’m not having enough restorative time? Fun list. Both? Why not?

Sometimes, like on this day, I needed help visualizing when to get everything done, so I noted if it was something I could do in the evening. Sometimes, if it’s a small task, I’ll note the item with a “B” for “break,” meaning that I can tackle it during a break. I’m not rigid about this. There are days that are less crowded. I still use a double-page spread, though. It just appeals to me, visually.

Other marks include techniques standard to a lot of bullet journals. The completed task or appointment has a box (task) or circle  (event/appointment) filled in. The item I didn’t begin has an arrow to indicate that I’ll move the item forward. A half-filled box represents a task I started. I occasionally mark a task with a star, if I am mentally stating that the item MUST be done for the day.

Note that I have made one change in my organization: I now put my work tasks immediately below the events and appointments. This is symbolic, reminding me that even though I have a flexible schedule, my work should not be placed last on the agenda.

Hope this helps give a sense of how I’m using the bullet journal to provide structure, rehearse the day ahead, and become more productive. If you use a bullet journal, have you adapted it in ways that you find helpful?

An answer…and a new journey

I haven’t posted on here in some time, because during the past year I have been trying to figure out what I can say that others aren’t already saying so well…Since I’m not currently decorating pages much, it felt a little redundant to keep posting on the bullet journal format.

Given a recent turn of events, I experienced the odd click when a number of seemingly separate pieces tumble into place.

This part’s personal. Not salacious nor dramatic. Sorry! But it’s personal nonetheless.

This year, my daughter…my amazing, bright, and sensitive daughter…was diagnosed with ADHD (combination subtype). In the lexicon of some people, she’s “twice exceptional” — intellectually gifted, with a few…well…challenges such as ADHD and a discrepancy between her understanding and her processing speed. Wait, does that make her “thrice exceptional”?

During the process, I learned about many misconceptions about ADHD in girls. For several reasons, girls are more likely to be diagnosed later, if at all. In fact, many women are diagnosed in adulthood only after their children are diagnosed.

Which leads to my “a-ha” moment. The more I read about how ADHD manifests in women and girls, the more I realized that many of the challenges I face stem from similar symptoms. The why and the how isn’t particularly relevant here, but I will say that I participated in an extensive evaluation process and received my diagnosis about one month after my daughter’s. This was not a haphazard process, and I feel quite confident this isn’t a case of “everyone struggles to focus in this day and age.”

What does this have to with Clarifilo, you ask?

Well…it’s amazing how things piece together when you have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight. It turns out that my love of lists and routines likely stems from techniques I developed to compensate for the untreated ADHD.

I think that in the coming months, I’m going to revisit Clarifilo as I try to incorporate what I’ve learned about structure and ADHD management. It turns out that paper planning suits many of my needs well, so you’ll see posts with the latest version of my bullet journal, more discussions of apps and routines, as well as some information specific to ADHD. I may also address strategies I am using at home to support my daughter. We’ll see. What I do know is that so much makes sense now, and I’m excited to continue this journey on Clarifilo.