My Best ADD/ADHD Hack for a School Calendar

I hate managing a calendar. Dates. Times. Ugh. But I also dread that “I can’t believe I forgot it” feeling whether it’s a school test or a paper. For some reason, my A.D.D. brain just slips up, forgets and something else takes precedence.

I suffered in high school hard. Like the overachiever we can quickly become, I joined the clubs and the choir; I was in the honors everything. Figure out the velocity of a comet? No problem. Figure out how to manage my classes, assignments, and commitments? Forget it.

After a week of finishing multiple papers at the last minute, I grabbed my paper calendar and decided to master this lion that devoured my peace and happiness.

I was going to defeat this calendar issue and I wouldn’t leave the chair until I did.

With my method, I managed to complete two bachelor degrees and a masters by the time I was 30.

This is how. It sounds simple, but it takes some tenacity. Here it is.

First, capture everything in one place. I don’t care what you use: Evernote, an iPhone, or a good ol’ school planner, that’s your ticket. Now sometimes I have to switch it up if I get bored, but I personalize the feathers out of it so I know it’s mine.

Second, if something has a due date, put it in the right place, but highlight it a specific color. Trust me on this. For example, English class is blue, and math class is yellow.

Third, if your assignment takes more than one sit down homework section to complete, remind yourself at least a week or two back. For example, if I have to write a nine page paper on To Kill a Mockingbird and it’s going to take more than one sit down to do a great job. If it’s due on April 1st, I will write it on that day: PAPER DUE! But I will also write on March 23rd, March 15th and March 8th that the paper is due.

Here’s why: if I have only the due date, I’m in trouble. My brain needs timely reminders of what’s coming. If I can pound out one or two pages a week, I’ll nearly be done by the time the due date arrives. If I turn the page to April 1st and I haven’t done a lick of work, I’m doomed—I’m the fool on April Fool’s Day.

But how do you sit down and actually do this? It’s hard to simply dedicate the time. You’re right. Our A.D.D. brains will beg and cajole us not to do it, as if we can handle it by the “winging it.” This is my strategy: I put on my favorite movie, the one I know by heart, line for line. And then I work on my schedule. My A.D.D. brain is just fine and I can get it done.

Give it a shot. I know the tears of the all nighters, the prayers to have school be closed. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Ryan McRae is ADD as the sun is bright. He is a corporate trainer and writes at He has the privilege of being Jeff’s mentor! He wrote a book called 19 A.D.D. HACKS THAT MAKE ANYONE’S LIFE EASIER .

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