Stick It to ADHD Forgetfulness!

September 15, 2011 Douglas Cootey

Can you train yourself to overcome ADHD? You can if you remember to do it. Of course, with ADHD that's a tall order.

The task last week seemed simple enough. It was my first week back on the job and I wanted to impress. Write two new blogs and find people to be interviewed for the HealthyPlace TV & Radio shows. I could do that—easy.

It's true that the first blog was a day late because we hadn't worked out all the details of my rehire, but I wrote it in time even if it wasn't posted in time. But what happened to the second blog?

ADHD Forgetfulness Impacts Us Socially

It seems that I was so caught up in learning my new job that I completely forgot about writing the second blog. In fact, I remembered it while on the phone with my boss while discussing the new job. The conversation went something like this:

Me: So that's what I've done this week for the interviews. I'm getting excited about it. (Sudden pause) Oh, hey! I was supposed to post another blog today, wasn't I?

Boss: (Disappointed and heavy silence. The sounds of an axe being sharpened could be heard in the background.)

Me: Wow! Gosh! That's totally lame, isn't it? Uh, I'll never do that again?

Boss: (More sharpening sounds)

Me: Waitasecond, you hadn't noticed yet. I shouldn't have said anything and just posted it, right?

Boss: (Loud, keen, grinding noise)

After convincing my Boss that I still needed my hands to type, I survived the weekend and tackled this new week with gusto. I wouldn't forget again. But how was I going to do that? The first thing I needed to do was figure out what went wrong in the first place.

Keeping Track of Tasks with ADHD Requires Effort

I was motivated. I was excited. I should have been able to remember. Why didn't I? The answer was simple: I had forgotten to use my number one coping strategy to manage ADHD. I had forgotten to remind myself with a ToDo list.

Writing a ToDo list doesn't need to be complicated, though there are very complicated systems out there to accommodate every geeky need. All you need is a scrap of paper and a pen. But most importantly, you need to train yourself to actually look at the scrap of paper again.

pastebot-2011-09-16-012625-amI like to use sticky notes for important, remember-this-or-die tasks. Take this morning for an example. I discovered that my 16-year-old had accidentally overspent while enthusiastically buying her little sister new clothes. When I did the math at the end of the day, I discovered that we would be negative in the morning. But what to do about it at 12:30am?

I wrote a note and tacked it up on the door right where I'd see it in the morning. Then when I stepped through the door, I took the note with me and stuck it on my dashboard. I've trained myself to keep checking on those notes, to make sure they don't disappear. All morning as I drove my girls to their schools, I kept an eye on that note. Then, when everybody had been dropped off, the first thing I did was attend to that note. I couldn't trust myself to remember, but I could train myself to keep looking.

In fact, not only do I use a ToDo list, but I also schedule events in my calendar. In the case of writing ADDaboy! I make sure the reminders pop up a day early with lots of alarms to pound through my hirsute skull. At least, I was supposed to do that. It sure seemed like a good idea at the time.

And it's still a good idea. Life comes at us fast and doesn't often give us a chance to dodge. Sometimes we get so busy dealing with the now, we forget to do what we promised to do last week. Anybody with a busy life has that problem, but adults with ADHD experience it more often. If you know that you have a tendency to forget to do things after time has passed, you can compensate for it. I like to do that with ToDo lists and sticky notes. Maybe a different system will work best for you.

Next week I'll talk a little about my alarm reminder system. Until then, good luck remembering to get things done this weekend, but don't forget to enjoy yourself.

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

APA Reference
Cootey, D. (2011, September 15). Stick It to ADHD Forgetfulness!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Douglas Cootey

September, 16 2011 at 5:30 am

I also use sticky notes, a pad of paper, my wall calendar and my phone calendar with an alarm. Not all at the same time unless really important. I'll even call home and leave myself a message to remind myself if I'm out. That one works great.

September, 16 2011 at 6:07 am

I can SO relate to the forgetfulness! I've relied on my smart phone for the past 2 years for everything from Doctor appointments, to remembering to take something out of the freezer for dinner. Those little pop up alarms are the best! And, because I always kept it in my pocket - I could set a reminder no matter where I was or what I was doing. (Envision cleaning the bathroom and stopping to set a reminder to pick up the kids from school in 45 minutes!) Without it, I find I forget to write the sticky note in the time to takes me to go get a pen and the pad. Sadly, due to the tight economic times, I've recently had to give up my smart phone to save on the cell phone bill. I expect I'll soon need to buy a pocket protector to keep a notepad and pen in. sigh.

September, 16 2011 at 10:27 am

My husband and I both rely heavily on the alarms on our phones. We even saved my old Blackberry Pearl, because the calendar alarms still work, even though the phone doesn't have a SIM card anymore!

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