I spent most of my life thinking I was bad for, well, everything. Turns out it was actually ADHD – something I was diagnosed with later in life. I never learned the coping mechanisms necessary to organize myself and function as others might have in their formative years.
I have since learned that I can structure my thoughts and actions using apps. I won’t remember daily tasks, but apps do. Together they provide me with the help I need to function without a second thought.
Rather than googling for a “top 10 ADHD apps list” that doesn’t actually look at how apps can really help me, I looked at the many other people with the same issues as me. We all asked ourselves the same question: how can I live like this?
what i needed
Before I even knew I had ADHD, I tried to control my lack of organization, my pervasive urge to procrastinate, and my forgetfulness by writing myself notes as reminders. It ended badly, because then I lost an outrageous number of papers around the house, in my pockets, or in the void where specially selected socks go in the washing machine version of Narnia.
I tried the Notes app on my phone for years. It was better than paper, but I still ran into the problem where I would create a lot of notes, and none of them had structure. They mixed deadlines, ideas, tasks and reminders. Because of that, they have become a full-fledged job just to sort things out. That, in turn, would make me procrastinate over this mess. To this day, I still haven’t watched them.
Living like this made me constantly frustrated. I needed a uniform set of tools to track my tasks, constantly remind me of deadlines, and take and organize my notes. I needed apps that would divide my thoughts into work, chores, reminders, and other little things (like remembering that nutrition was important).
Routine for daily tasks
Despite finding a few hiccups, I fiddled with some apps that people with ADHD say helped them. After trying these apps, I really feel optimistic.
The application with the most rigidity regarding organization is Routinery. It does exactly what I hate to do but need so much. Daily chores and chores have always been my bane, sometimes causing me to waste hours staring at the clock and avoiding work. It adds urgency to tasks that my ADHD needs to focus on.
After some feedback from me, Routinery contained my ideal daily routine down to the exact minute. This included remembering to drink water and taking breaks when focusing on a hobby (have you ever gone 14 hours without a break drawing until 8am?). Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the schedule, but I’ve learned that I can look at the list throughout the day to remind myself of what I’ve done and what I haven’t done yet.
HabitNow to create habits
Along the same lines, HabitNow does a similar structuring for my life but more with habits. Of which I have nothing. With HabitNow, I could easily add habits I wanted to strengthen and check them off as I went.
Every day it refreshed me and reminded me to do them again. In the past, with just notes, even when I could remember to try to keep habits, I had nothing or no one to hold me accountable. HabitNow reminds me of my deadlines for such tasks and keeps nagging me until I check them off. It takes a ton of the mental tension and anxiety out of remembering everything for me.
Monday.com organizes my work
In terms of work organization, Monday.com is perfection. It organizes and shows me all my current deadlines. Including completed work tasks that I might need to check again. The part that really scratched that itch for my ADHD brain was being allowed to include particular notes on every work task I had.
It was also incredibly easy to navigate and set it all up. I actually liked filling it in because it was such a smooth process. I can’t stress enough how incredibly well Monday.com has structured all of my work. I always open the app every few hours just to see what I have coming up and what I should be working on.
The forest keeps me on task
An app that I really liked didn’t do much to organize my life. Instead, it helped control me. This application is called Forest. You plant a small tree and the app stops you from exiting it to dither, telling you that the seedling will die if you leave before the timer runs out.
I don’t know about the others, but it’s more than enough to convince me to take a break and finish my current job. The app allows you to collect and view that tree you have grown in your garden. You can also see all the trees you’ve grown and how hard you’ve been able to focus. Since ADHD sufferers like me need more visual representations of their actions, I found this inspiring. I was reminded that I had done well for myself again and again in small ways.
Lifesum helps me take care of my body
Food and diet organization is not something many people consider, especially when that person has ADHD. Lifesum, one of the best fitness apps of 2022, was the one I saw others recommend for a bunch of reasons. Many diet or food organization apps all offered the same functionality with slight variations, but the one app I fell in love with was the consistent mix that Lifesum offers.
I could put together recipes, a meal plan, and create a shopping list that I could check off as I shopped. But what I liked the most was the food diary and the progress meter. It kept track of calories like any other diet diary, but it calculated how much carbs, protein, and fat I should have for my body and knew how much each food I ate added to those needs. Together the app was all I needed regarding food.
Due to ADHD, I, like many others, suffer from the fact that I will focus on comfort foods for their texture or taste. This sometimes happens to the detriment of me, ignoring nutrition for weeks until my body physically tells me I’ve made a lot of mistakes. At one point, I actually gave myself anemia from my food choices, so having something to help tell if I’m going too far is almost a literal lifesaver.
What helped and what didn’t
The biggest help in organizing my life has been structuring every part of my needs into the right apps. There’s no one app that can do it all, and if it could, it would be so complicated I’d give up altogether.
Instead, I let Lifesum help me with food and my body’s needs. Monday.com was perfect for keeping my work under control and always visible. I started building life-changing habits with HabitNow and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
The routine built my daily schedule so that I could pick it up as needed. The only thing I still struggle with is that it’s a little too rigid in scheduling every little thing I do. With my daily schedule, I can almost never keep up with the plans down to the minute. Even more so with my ADHD which manifests in how I constantly wander off.
That said, there is something exceptionally magical about being able to take care of myself without depending on others. I finally feel like I’m a little more capable of facing the world and living. This newfound stability and responsibility is a constant reminder of what I should do so that I don’t have to punish myself for remembering things that my mind just can’t keep up with.