You know, people are always saying “you need to do [thing] in order to be productive”. For me, as an ADHDer, I went looking around reddit on how other ADHDers manage their to-dos. A lot of people were very insistent that analog methods (ex. paper planners, paper calendars, etc) work best, because apparently, the act of writing things down is what helps cement thoughts into people’s minds.

I mean…I guess? I prefer to use digital methods myself (I cycled through about 20 different productivity apps for iOS only to figure out that the stock Reminders app just works best for me). I probably won’t remember what I entered into my to-do list, but literally the point of me using a mobile app instead of anything paper-based is that mobile apps can scream at you with your to-dos. I can try to remember what I wrote down in a paper planner, but 9/10, I won’t remember it anyway, and I most likely won’t remember to check said planner if I have anything coming up. If I do, it most certainly won’t be on time.

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

I’m not really a technophobe either. I’ve tried paper methods, mostly because they looked cool and a lot of fun (thanks ADHD). In the end (after a lot of trial and error and shuffling through about 5 different types of planners and analog methods), I found with analog, that:

  • I have a lot of recurring tasks as part of my daily/weekly routines (ex. take supplements, brush teeth, wash face, Belle’s meds, guinea pigs’ pellets, guinea pigs’ waterbottles). Going with a paper method means I have to copy today’s tasks onto tomorrow’s page, and do the same thing the next day. I have about 20 recurring tasks, so uhhhh, ADHD brain says “NO 🙅‍♀️”.
  • The problem of not having automated reminders.
  • Needing to have to the entire notebook/planner on my person EVERYWHERE, even around the house. If I need to write something down that I want to remember later, I have to haul ass up the stairs to get my notebook and write it down. And my phone is way more portable, fits in my pocket, etc.

Maaaaybe we’re relying on tech too much. But honestly, this is the 21st century, and just as we invented stuff like indoor plumbing, household appliances, etc (which by the way are also technology) to make our lives easier, we invented these pocket computers that are basically our phones, PDAs and camera combined into one. Unless if you’re spending all day doomscrolling Twitter, reddit or (insert other social media), I wouldn’t worry about tech taking over your life.

Gonna say, though. The one advantage analog to-do lists have is that you can easily have your planner out in front of you by your workspace (for those who need their to-dos staring at them all day). You could try this with an iPad, but then you have to worry about fun stuff like battery or screen burn-in. (I think it might be possible to root an old e-ink device to display your to-dos, but I don’t have any experience in this.) Also there’s just something about some paper notebooks I really like. 🤤

Not just productivity!

I just got an Apple Watch mid-December for fitness tracking.* And before that, I had a Fitbit (RIP). You don’t really NEED a fancy watch to tell you to take a walk every hour. It just makes it more fun. I could set a reminder for myself on my phone to get up every hour. But the other stuff fitness trackers come bundled with (general list):

*Nothing hardcore, like no workouts or anything. Just needed it for the basics (the stand, move and exercise rings).

  • how many hours you were active
  • how many minutes you walked each day
  • how many calories were burned

Two of these can be tracked manually, but ADHD makes me think “why bother?” because…see the above section on recurring tasks for paper planners.

(Also smartwatches can send notifications from your phone, so if you’re worried about missing important to-dos when your phone is in the other room, well…)

Disclaimer: Probably not an Apple Watch | Photo by Onur Binay on Unsplash


If you’re just starting out and trying to figure out what makes your brain tick, it’s not a bad idea to take other people’s advice on what works for them. But in the end, the only one who can decide what works best for you is YOU.

(Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.)