Digital Calendars Are Must-Haves for Working with Bipolar

July 8, 2020 Nori Rose Hubert

Real talk: when it comes to time management, I don't have the best track record. While most people can benefit from improved time management skills, keeping track of time and using it productively seems to be the bane of bipolar existence.

Concentration Is a Constant Challenge When You Have Bipolar

Contrary to the stereotype, mania and hypomania do not necessarily make one more productive. When I'm hypomanic, I can't "turn off" my brain: my thoughts race, I get distracted by every little thing that crosses my field of perception, and I'm so hyped up that I can't sit still long enough to finish washing the dishes or folding the laundry, let alone complete an important project for work or respond to email.

If I am able to concentrate on a task, everything else ceases to exist: I've literally gone an entire day without eating because I was so intensely focused on writing. And if anyone or anything dares to break my concentration -- well, let's just say that I've issued more than one apology to people I care about who were unfortunate enough to disturb my train of thought.

If mania and hypomania make it difficult to get work done, depression makes work almost impossible: brain-fog, exhaustion, and feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, and helplessness are not exactly conducive to making the most of one's time. I'm not just talking about "work" work, either: there are also errands, important tasks (I have never, not once in my adult life, updated my vehicle registration before the expiration date), and day to day necessities such as eating, sleeping, exercise, laundry, cleaning, and depression self-care such as spending time with loved ones or engaging in enjoyable hobbies.

When I decided to say goodbye to day jobs and become an entrepreneur, I knew that I would never be a successful business owner unless I came up with some sort of system to keep up with my daily tasks and hold myself accountable. I've always loved collecting physical planners and organizers but noticed that I seem to run out of steam and abandon my planner in an out of the way desk drawer or barely-used tote bag halfway through the year, which wasn't doing me any favors.

Enter Bipolar's New Best Work Buddy: Digital Calendars

Aside from bipolar medication and therapy, the best bipolar management tool I've employed thus far in my recovery journey is my digital calendar. Every Sunday morning, I sit down at the computer and plan my week down to the minute in Google Calendar, which is synched with iCalendar on my MacBook. It may sound rigid or "type A," but it is literally the only way that I will stay on track and get things done. I keep iCal open on my dashboard throughout the day as I work, and I get alerts on both my computer and phone 30 minutes before it's time to switch to the next task.

Planning my week in my digital calendar right from the outset gives me the structure I need to work with bipolar, and having consistent reminders makes it much easier for my brain to switch between tasks (something I really struggled with when I worked in a traditional office environment). It allows me to plan ahead and allocate specific blocks of time for work, household chores, errands, my daily routine, and self-care.

Knowing what to expect and having a plan significantly reduces my anxiety and makes it easier to deal with stress. When I'm in the middle of a mood episode, having a self-made structure helps me keep myself accountable: "Okay, if I don't complete this task in the appointed time, I'll have to spend an extra hour catching up, which means that I won't have time to work on my cross-stitch project before bed, etc." 

There's something incredibly satisfying about looking back over my calendar at the end of the day and feeling proud of all the work I've accomplished.

Have you tried using digital calendars to help you work with bipolar disorder? Do you have another time management strategy you'd like to share with us? Drop a line in the comments.

APA Reference
Rose, N. (2020, July 8). Digital Calendars Are Must-Haves for Working with Bipolar, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Nori Rose Hubert

Nori Rose Hubert is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of the forthcoming novel The Dreaming Hour. A lifelong Texan, she currently divides her time between Austin and Dallas. Connect with her on her website, Medium, and Instagram and Twitter.

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