The Internet Ate My Brain (3 Basic ADHD Survival Tips When Reminders Fail)

October 14, 2011 Douglas Cootey

Something terrible happened to me on the inaugural eve of Apple's iCloud service going live. Something catastrophic. Apple's MobileMe servers hiccuped and ate all of my calendars.

Remember that sound Superman made when Lois Lane died in the classic 1979 movie? Mine was louder.

Sometimes electronics can fail us. Sometimes the internet goes down. Sometimes the power blacks out. Sometimes your computer hard drive gives up the ghost. And sometimes those nifty calendars we put in the cloud that happily sync with our portable devices & home computers get eaten by server failure. What are we to do?

The ADHD Mind Can Flounder When Routine Is Interrupted

pastebot-2011-10-14-114848-amNormally, I have backups to save me from those moments, but in this case I bought furnishings for a new apartment instead of replacing the TimeMachine drive that was damaged in the move.

Calendars, todo lists, and reminder notes are vital tools to help the adult with ADHD manage time and keep themselves on task. In the digital age where so much is done with computers and smartphones, having reminder systems as part of that digital world is natural. But when those systems fail us, we can't waste precious time fixing them when we have other things that require our attention.

Fortunately, implementing a backup plan is as easy as A, B, or C.

  1. Go Old SchoolThe online calendars, cloud-synced ToDo lists, and electronic reminders & alarms that beep and boop us into attention all have traditional counterparts. In a pinch, I grab paper & pencil and start jotting down the things I need to do. I don't rely on memory. I set up my elaborate digital reminder systems because I couldn't rely on memory in the first place. This may seem self-evident now, but in the panic when the electronic systems you rely on begin to fail, many of us forget about the old systems and press on without any system.
  2. Switch SystemsSometimes just one website or app will fail us. Resist the urge to troubleshoot when you're under deadline. Have another app or website in the wings that you can use instead. It may not be as ideal as the one you prefer, but at least you can stay up and running.

    When I installed the new iOS5 onto my iPhone, everything went wonderfully. However, my iPad curled up and died on the upgrade. The temptation to dive in and restore it to its former thousand apps glory was strong, but I resisted. I already had an iPhone to rely on, as well as alternate systems on my Mac. Operation iPad could wait until the weekend.

  3. Be Quick and DirtyThere is usually a very strong reason why you abandoned the old school ways. Maybe Sticky notes on your monitor kept falling off or getting buried under more stickies. Maybe paper calendars failed you because you had to actually remember to look at them. For whatever reason, you are a happy digital camper these days and don't want to look back.

    If you can't afford the time at the moment to rebuild your reminder system completely, consider rebuilding it partially. When my iPad required a restoration to default settings, I was fairly discouraged. I couldn't foresee both my iPad backup and my TimeMachine system backup becoming corrupted at the same time. The temptation to jump in and reinstall everything was keener than the urge to breath. Instead, I installed just the key apps I needed to get my work done and got to work.

In the future, I will place having reliable hard drive backups higher up on my list. Perhaps next time a new TimeMachine setup will be more important than hair scrunchies for the girls and matching towels for the bathroom. I'm glad, though, that I had prepared myself by having backup plans in mind. Hard drive backups may fail us, but our minds are resilient devices. As long as we are prepared, we can adapt and recover.

APA Reference
Cootey, D. (2011, October 14). The Internet Ate My Brain (3 Basic ADHD Survival Tips When Reminders Fail), HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Douglas Cootey

October, 24 2011 at 11:23 am

I've just recently gone through the long process of learning how to make sure everything on the laptop is also on the desktop computer. The reasoning behind this, is so that I can back everything up from one place. My anxiety disorder made this all very difficult for me. I would do something and need to recheck it many times and then worry that it was wrong anyway. Sometimes, I'd get so upset that I'd have a panic attack. This type of thing just doesn't come easily to me and the idea that I might lose something terrifies me. I don't even have as I Phone or an I Pad and I'm already on overload. Can't imagine trying to work with having so many work spaces and apps.
Oh, and I totally don't get this whole cloud thing. Had to add that.

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