ADHD and the To Do Remix

August 19, 2010 Douglas Cootey

To Do lists are often the only way I can remember all the various things I'm supposed to get done. Yet when ADHD fueled boredom settles in, managing and maintaining To Do lists is the very last thing on earth I want to do. Here's a tip I have found to keep To Do lists effective over time.

There was a time when my responsibilities were vague memories in my mind, like forgotten dreams.

Hey, wasn't I supposed to do something important today?

This thought would drift across my consciousness as I crawled into bed, long after business hours. For a few moments I would look up at the ceiling as if the answer would somehow light up and blink at me. Then I would pull out my Palm PDA and look over my To Do list in its pale, teal glow.

What?! I haven't updated this in two weeks? Hmm, then what was I supposed to…? Shoot! The phone bill!

Please believe me that this was a vast improvement over, "Gee, why isn't my phone working anymore?" Still, there was plenty of room for improvement.

I love To Do lists, but when I've seen them over and over again they begin to bore me. Especially carrying uncompleted tasks forward and reprioritizing. Snore!

When something bores me, my ADHD mind instinctively shoots out of my skull and heads for the hills. The process is so instantaneous I'm shouting "Whoohoo! I'm climbing a hill!" before I am even aware that I have become distracted. Over time, I've become quite skilled at lassoing my brain and roping it back in before any harm is done. But when the thing that bores me is my list of responsibilities, I can't afford to lose a day—or worse, a week—before I come to my senses. Some responsibilities are time sensitive, like school paperwork, financial statements, forms, bills, and payments to the local loan shark.

I have found it is helpful to have three to four different To Do list systems. For me that means I have the super complicated To Do app with alarms, priorities, and scheduled due dates. I can also schedule events in my calendar. Then I have the bare bones To Do app which lets me prioritize things if I feel like it. And then I have an app that sticks notes on the lock screen so I'm greeted with a reminder every time I turn my iPhone on (most effective with only one reminder, not a list of them). Sometimes I'll even use a sticky note tacked on the door, mirror, or computer monitor. Whatever it takes to get in my face and remind me.

As one technique starts to bore me, I'll switch to the another one. I mix it up and keep things fresh. The only time I forget things now is when I forget to write them down at all. Give it a try and see if you find the variety helpful for your ADHD productivity.

Follow me on Twitter for my ADHD escapades at @SplinteredMind or my novel writing project over at @DouglasCootey. And if you're a glutton for punishment you can friend me on Facebook as well.

APA Reference
Cootey, D. (2010, August 19). ADHD and the To Do Remix, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Author: Douglas Cootey

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