I’ve tested and used dozens of planners in my search for the best planner for ADHD. I wanted something specifically created for people that struggle with organization. Most of the planners are created for people who are already organized.
If you have ADHD (or even if you're just a hot mess), you don't think the same way that someone who's naturally organized does. You want a planner and a system that helps you manage your life, not another routine you feel like you have to keep up with.
I finally found one that let me track not just my week, but also my meal plan, my budget, my cleaning schedule, my goals, and even my healthy habits. I want to walk you through the system that I use with it so you can easily get the same results. I've used it for almost 8 months now with no signs of slowing down.
This planner is without a doubt the best planner for ADHD, but also perfect if you're just chronically disorganized or a hot mess.
Having Multiple Planners That Never Get Used
I used to be the girl that bought a fancy new planner every few months, convinced that THIS WAS THE ONE that was going to change my entire life.
But, it never really did. And within a few months, I was back at Barnes and Noble picking out another planner that was going to change my entire life.
After a while, I started to realize that the planner was simply a tool.
It can’t organize you. You have to organize it. Not the other way around. I also realized that if you can establish the habit of dumping everything in your brain into this book, then you start to trust the book to be your brain (which is why ADHD planner's are life changing!).
I’ve been consistently using a planner for over 8 years now, and I can tell you without a doubt, that when you get the planner to work for you… it’s some kind of magic.
I don’t know how I could live without a planner now. It automates so much of my life so I don’t have to think about things. Every aspect of my life is somehow supported by this little book.
Now, I use the Home Success Planner, which is by far the best planner if you have ADHD or if you're just a hot mess. It’s usually $27, but you can get it at a discount for $9 through this link and then you’ll need to print it and get it bound (I use Staples, but most office supply stores will bind your planner for around $3).
You could just print it out and stick it in a binder, but for $3 and 10 minutes at Staples, you end up with a custom life planner worth about $50 for about $12. Which is kind of a no brainer. 🙂
ADHD or Hot Mess?
First off, I think it's important to make sure that everyone knows that there's a difference between ADHD and being a hot mess. ADHD is a medical condition (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)and being a hot mess is a plucky way to say you're disorganized. You could also call yourself chronically disorganized… but hot mess just sounds better.
Despite their differences, I've noticed that whether your disorganization is from ADHD or just from being a hot mess, the way you work around that personality to get the results you want is the same…
- Focus on essential tasks that matter.
- Eliminate the stuff that doesn't make a difference.
- Have routines for everything.
- Have daily reminders to stay on track.
So while this post is specifically about the best planner for ADHD, if you're just disorganized or would describe yourself as a hot mess… this planner will likely work for you too.
Setting Up the Best Planner for ADHD
I’m going to walk you through how I set it up and use it….
Fair warning… this post is detailed. The benefits of using a weekly printable planner though come from the system you use it with, not the actual planner.
Let me put it like this, I was a chronically disorganized hot mess who lived paycheck to paycheck. Despite that though, I reduced our spending by over $23,000 a year, paid off our $35,000 in debt, and then I quit my job and found ways to replace my income from home… and this planning system was a crucial part of all of that.
So if I can do it… You can totally do it. 🙂
Setting up the Week
I add an Erin Condren personalized cover for $10 to the front of my planner- the cover snaps right on the coils easily. I’m a total sucker for photo covers. I add a pen loop on the hardcovers and almost exclusively use FriXion pens now (they erase better than pencil and come in super bright colors) but used pencils for years before that.
I’ve done tons of stickers in the past (usually from the Planner Kate Etsy shop) but the only stickers I consistently use over time are the circle photo stickers from Erin Condren. I make it my goal to meet up with someone to get out of the house at least once a week, so the sticker photo helps me plan that (and I think we’ve already established I’m a sucker for photos).
Plus, they’re relatively cheap at $5 a sheet (a sheet lasts for like 8 months for me).
As I set up the month a few days ago, I took a few photos so I could show you what I mean…
Setting up the Month
Things I want to accomplish this month. I almost always include at least one…
- Home Project (we’re finally fixing up the kids bathroom, which has been a bit of a disaster)
- Financial Goal (hint: it’s almost always to come in under budget for the month. I track more detailed budget goals in my budget binder)
- Anything else I want to get done.
I tend to not be an over planner. I try to set limits of the amount of things I want to get done. If there’s 60 things on my list (or even 15), I know myself well enough to know that I’m going to get overwhelmed and not do anything.
When I plan for a few things, I usually get everything on the list done and then more. I’m a fan of working with the personality I already have instead of trying to change it.
I also leave a note in this section for anything major going on in the month (like house guests and visitors). In this case, we have a friend of Jon’s coming to stay for two weeks while Jon instructs him on flight training.
Fun Day Bucket List:
I plan what I want to do on my Saturdays here. I usually fill this up and then distribute this throughout the month. That gives me time at the beginning of the month to coordinate dates with my people. 🙂
Stop Doing List:
This is ever evolving. In the beginning it was all about reducing errands and “time sucks”, but it’s advanced as I go. Now, I focus on recognizing what isn’t bringing good things to my life and can be cut out.
Sometimes they’re obvious...like, yelling at kids.
And sometimes they’re less obvious... I love Boy Scouts and I love the kids in our den, but I also recognize that Boy Scouts isn't my natural strength and it adds a LOT of stress into my life.
I have a background working with groups of toddlers and loved it… groups of 6 year old boys are a totally different game! And to be totally honest… I’m a pushover and discipline and strictness has never been in my strengths. I think my limit of effectiveness is just one 6 year old boy. 🙂
Books/TV/Movies Binge List:
This is really important to me because for the past few months, I work out for an hour on the bike and that's the ONLY time I can watch my favorite show. For the past few months it’s been Outlander, but I’m done with that so I’ve moved on to Roswell New Mexico. Which is the Reboot of the original Roswell (and OMG if you loved the original show, you should watch it!)
I use habit stacking to stay consistent with that and it totally works. Bike time is my FAVORITE part of the day and I burn about 400 calories per hour.
What's The Best Thing That Can Happen This Month:
This is a visualization exercise that I’ve done for years. You would be surprised how often the best thing occurs simply because you’ve written it down (and are unconsciously focusing on it).
Each day I quickly jot down…
- How many minutes I worked out
- What my total calorie intake was (I only track this during weekdays)
- My total water intake (I use a 60 oz water bottle marked with hours that I carry all day)
- My stress level.
I use tracking my stress level to see patterns (this is how I realized that I should give up Boy Scout leadership on Tuesdays because those were always 7-10 stress days compared to 1-3 on other days.) Tracking stress also lets me be proactive. If I see my stress level rising over an extended period of time, I can work on getting more sleep, removing tasks from my list or adding something to my stop doing list.
The healthy habits page also has a spot to track your weight and three major measurements including arms, waist, and thighs.
Monthly Budget Overview:
This is where we set our monthly budget. In the old days, this was where we carefully tracked and reduced our spending by over $23,000 and paid off over 30k in debt.
Now, our budget is WAY more complicated than that, with a major business budget to run alongside our personal budget. Just keep that in mind that this is the “AFTER” budget. Meaning, if your budget looks a lot different from this, than that’s ok.
Our budget before we paid off our debt looked a lot different! We have most of our savings and investments coming from a separate account, but we try to supplement that here.
If you’d rather see the monthly budget pages of one of our readers with low income and high debt, you can see that here.
Setting Up The Week for Success with ADHD
For the weekly layout, I start by logging errands I need to run. This week is a bad example but usually, there are only one or two items in this box. Most of the items in the errands list through the week are phone calls I need to make or returns I need to initiate from home.
I plan for one (or 2 at the max) errands a week. If there’s already an errand planned this week, it moves to next week. I can get away with that because we meal plan and use a stockroom, so there’s no such thing as an “urgent errand” anymore.
We even stock Pedialyte, throw up bags, and Lysol for stomach bugs (How’s that for committed?)
Then I set the date that I’ll run my errands, usually, this is a set day, but this is a weird week with a doctors appointment, so I’ll take care of it while I’m there.
I make a note of my work schedule (I coordinate that on reset day. For week's like this when I have a doctor's appointment, I have the flexibility to change things up, but usually I work a set schedule. I just make a note of the changes so I remember.
Fun Day Items:
Fun Day is a day off where we just do fun things all day. We tend to do this on Saturdays. I just list what I want to do here.
Reset days are the days where you spend the day setting up for the week and relaxing. You make NO plans, and you just spend the day preparing for the week and enjoying the day. We do reset days on Sunday (but we used to rotate reset days when I worked for the State Police and had random days off).
I actually keep a Post-it Note with my reset day list, so I only put something in this box if there’s something additional I need to do or know about.
This box is for anything. Some days it’s something I need to buy or purchase, and sometimes it’s something I need to remember to tell Jon about.
Here is where I track the daily tasks I need to do every day. Once the task is done, I mark it off.
This is the system that runs my entire home in an hour a day.
So every day we do…
- One load of dishes.
- One load of laundry (we only wash the clothes we wore yesterday) and on reset day, we do an extra load of specialty fabrics, blanket or towels.
- Declutter for 15 minutes.
- 5 minute pick up of the main area.
- 15-minute chore block (these are optional based on the level of clean you’re trying to get to).
As you can see on Tuesday, it doesn't always work. 🙂 But, for the most part, this lets me manage my house on autopilot without even really thinking about it.
This section is life changing if you have ADHD or are chronically disorganized. Because I've found that if I do NOTHING else for weeks, just the tasks on these trackers…. my house actually looks really clean, and my stress level goes way down.
There’s a space at the bottom of the week with enough room to track breakfast, lunch, dinner and some snacks. We usually just plan out dinners using the simplified meal plan so we have an overview plan for the week, and then we just make what we feel like for lunch and breakfast.
Every week, Jon and I sit down for a budget meeting. We used to do this as a little date night, but now that our kids are older (and nothing we’re talking about is stressful or scary), we just do these over dinner so they can be included.
We track our spending for the week and list unnecessary spending. (Like how we tried a newly opened restaurant this week with a beer wall and spent $70 (!!!) on hot dogs and BBQ. The food was good but not even close to worth that. We should have looked at the reviews before we went.
I list the action steps that need to be completed by next week and assign them to someone. That keeps us constantly moving forward and making progress.
Finally, we list our goals for the month and whether we’re on track.
Checking your ADHD Planner Daily
In order to make the planner system actually work, I make sure that I check the planner every day and look ahead at what’s going on tomorrow.
When I get Birthday party invites sent home, or doctor appointment cards, I lay them on top of the planner as they come in, so I can add them when I check the planner for the day.
In person or online dates I need to know, I just text to myself (or send myself a voice recorded note) (so those are the only texts in that thread) and I fill those in when I do my nightly updates too.
When I put something into the planner, I also add an additional entry if anything needs to be planned for.
House guests: What's the meal plan? Where will they sleep? Are the guest beds made? Do we need extra blankets, etc? Are there any special activities to plan?
This isn't just helpful for keeping us calm before the event but saves us a ton of money. With a highly impulsive personality, If I didn’t think about this until the night before they arrived and I realized I didn’t have enough beds for them, I would totally run to target and buy a blow-up bed. My first response is to always fix the problem quickly, rather than find another way to solve the problem.
By giving myself advanced time to plan, I can ask someone to borrow a blow-up bed ahead of time, or if I want to purchase one, I can find one on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for a fraction of the price.
Birthday Parties: I put a note in a week before the event to order a present and to check on wrapping paper.
Other Things I Track
Measurements for Online Clothing: I keep current body measurements for each member of the family. This lets me accurately shop online for their clothes.
We use capsule wardrobes and have 2 major wardrobe replenish days a year during major holiday sales, where we can get clothes 50-70% off. By having their measurements, I know what will fit and what won’t and can shop with confidence in a fraction of the time it would take to drag everyone through the mall with less returns.
We teach this system in Hot Mess to Home Success.
Cleaning System: I set up our simplified cleaning system in the planner as well. This is any chore that needs to be done for us to love our home.
We divide the chores into days that they need be done, so we don’t have to spend more than a 15-minute chore block on any given day. We also teach this system in Hot Mess to Home Success.
Stockroom: I keep a list of everything I need to run the house from trash bags to shampoo and restock them every 3-4 months. This makes it so I can get them at the lowest price and I eliminate last minute errands to grab something that I’m running out of.
Things I’ve Used The Notes Pages For
Batch Freezer Cooking Days: I can plan our batch cooking days right in the note pages and then I have everything I need already planned out for next time.
Freezer Inventory: When we were heavily into freezer cooking, I kept a list of each meal in the freezer and crossed them off as we ate it so I could tell at a glance what was left.
Pantry Inventory: We have a bigger pantry now, but when we were using cupboards, I kept a pantry list in the note page of my planner so I knew what I had quickly when I was meal planning.
Notes From Family Meetings: We do family meetings at the same time as budget meetings, they’re just combined into one. I’ve used the note pages in the past to keep a list of items to address during family meetings and specific complaints to discuss.
Creating a to Read/Watch/ Play List: I use Goodreads now, but if you prefer paper, the note pages are a great place to list the books you want to get from the library.
Jon’s List: I keep a list of stuff I need his help with around the house (I’m a terrible DIY’er)
#want list: (although I much prefer this to be visual, like photos on my phone or even on Instagram) We do this in our budget binder now. But in the past, I kept a list of things I wanted right in the note pages.
I just write a note to remind myself that I want something and it's just as fun as shopping to me. This trick has helped me curb impulse purchases, but it has also helped me to really prioritize my spending.
So, now when I am thinking about spending money, I can clearly see all of the things the money could go towards and I can choose the thing I want the most. It’s one of my favorite things now.
Why This Is The Best ADHD Planner
When you look at requirements to get the title of best ADHD planner, I think it all comes down to helping you focus on the tasks that give you the best results for the least amount of effort. You don't want a planner that makes you feel like you need to “do all of the things”. The Home Success Planner really does that through:
- Simplified Cleaning System- which helps you track only the chores that actually matter and breaks them down into manageable chunks. (The full system is taught in Hot Mess to Home Success)
- Simplified Meal Planning – no more buying $200 worth of groceries just to let them rot in the fridge. This is easy realistic meal planning that's easy to stick to (even if you eat Mcdonalds 5x a week now).
- Simplified Budgeting- narrowing down the essential tasks you need to do to reduce your spending and keep up with your budget without making it overwhelming.
- Daily Habit Trackers- A daily reminder of the most important tasks every day.
- Automation – While the planner doesn't teach you in depth automation (which is the concept of managing your home without your involvement or in significantly less time), it does have space to manage automation and they teach automation in Hot Mess to Home Success (a course that teaches women how to manage their home in less than one hour a day) and a lot of it I talked about above).
That's the major benefits, but I think this is hands down the best planner for ADHD (or just hot messes!).