Monthly Planning Session: January 2023

I’m trying something different for 2023, and I think it’ll be a good experiment. At the end of the month, I’m going to do a snapshot like I put in the treatment tracker booklet, and then I’m going to set my goals for the next month based on that snapshot. I’m not going to look really far into the future, I’m just going to think about the coming month.

I think this could be interesting for a bunch of us to do together, so I’ll detail my process in this post and you’ll be able to download a printable at the end of the post that will give you somewhere to keep track of what you’re hoping to accomplish each month.

A pinnable image with a cat, some people performing different chores, and the dates written below.

End of December Snapshot

I have about four major categories that I use for my planner. I split some of them into sub-categories, mainly because I like my small containers.

Now, in the treatment tracking booklet, the symptoms get rated out of 5. For this, I’m not rating each area of my life. Rather, I’m writing down a sentence or two that describes the current state of affairs in each category or sub-category.

I decided not to actually rate each category because I feel like this is an entirely subjective activity, so it’s not likely to provide any truly meaningful data. I’ll be able to see how things change over time without the numerical rating because of my next step.

Once I have my descriptions written, I go back and write down a few things that could improve that area of my life. These are the things that will help me see how I’ve improved (or regressed) in each category.


Writing everything down like this is great, but also overwhelming. There’s so much to do! But I don’t have to do all of it right now. That’s the thing. This is just the jumping-off point. I’m nowhere near finished the planning. But since it is overwhelming, I’ll set it aside and move on to something else.

January’s Important Events & Appointments

While my overwhelming chart is taking a break, I can pull out my monthly calendar and my phone, and start copying events and appointments so they match. I’ll just do January right now, since that is the month I’m worried about.

Back to the Chart

Okay, time to go back to my chart. First I’ll go through the things that I can do to improve my life, noting whether each item is a project or a habit.

Project: A one-time thing, though it may take a long time to complete.

Habit: Anything you need to do regularly, whether daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly.

This helps even more with the overwhelm of the chart, because I only need to choose ONE daily habit to track this month, and I only need to choose one project per category. It’s totally manageable after all; one habit and up to six projects (max) are way easier to think about!

Reminder Time

Now I need to be able to keep these things front & centre. I’m a Visual processor, so I’m going to use pictures (with words alongside) to illustrate my goals. I’ll divide things up on the page by category because I’m a Micro processor too. I’ll keep that page in my planner but have it where I can see it whenever I open it, just because posting it on the wall would be weird for my family.

Visual: Make a poster or fun page in your planner

Hidden: Write it all out in your planner

Micro: Do the above for each life category; don’t be afraid to have sub-categories!

Macro: Put everything together in one place

Following Through

Now I have my plan for January… how do I intend to make sure the plan happens?

That’s where my weekly and daily planning come in.

I think I’ve noted before that I’m good at making plans but struggle with following through on those plans. That has absolutely not changed! My current medication makes it easier, but it’s still not a given. What I’m hoping is that this approach will help me follow through, since everything will be smaller and more immediate. I should be able to have small successes, which will help me continue to work on things.

That’s the idea, at least. We’ll see how it goes.

Weekly Planning

I’m expecting to do my weekly planning on Saturday, hopefully in the evening. I’ll start with the assessment of the previous week, to get that in my head, and then I’ll move to the next week’s schedule.

The first things I’ll put into my week are things that are (or should be) set in stone. That means transferring things from the monthly calendar and then writing in breakfast, lunch, and dinner on each day (because I forget to eat, I have to put these in). Hopefully I’ll be able to figure out an errands day at this point, too. Once I’ve got those foundations, I want to schedule time for me to “Follow my Whims” every day, as well as decompression time. Both of these are vital for me, both because I need to be able to just do whatever for a while and because, as an introvert who is homeschooling an extrovert, I need time to myself every day. These are self-care, and I need to care for myself better. Once that is all in my schedule, I am going to try time blocking again.

Time Blocking?

In case you haven’t heard of it, time blocking is basically like a loose schedule, kind of like what you have when you’re in school. One reason why I think this could work well for me (and for other ADHDers) is that it encourages loose scheduling.

When I’m making a schedule, I’m tempted to get really detailed and break out every single thing I need to do and assign it a time. Then if I get a duration wrong or something unexpected happens, my whole schedule is out the window. Time blocking forces me to be more general, because it’s more like “From 9-10 a.m. I’ll work on house-related tasks.” So what I do isn’t prescribed, it’s up to me to do whatever I can during that time period.

Meal Planning

Don’t forget about meal planning! I have that on my weekly planning page for a reason! I’ll make sure I do that once all the scheduling is done, since then I’ll know what days we need quick meals and what days we might be eating out, etc. Then I can make my grocery list for whichever day I’ll be running errands.

Daily Planning

Nightly I’ll do my assessment of the day and then plan the next day. My Goals and gravy will come from my chosen projects for the month, and of course my habit is from that work as well. I’ll fill out my daily planning page so that it’s easy to see what to do as I move through the schedule from my weekly page.

One thing I’m hoping to start is a monthly YouTube video. That could be a “plan with me” kind of thing, or it could be on a topic. What would you prefer? Let me know!

For now, go forth and use this week’s printable to create your plan for January. Good luck everyone!


Planners: Your Processing Type

It’s December, and naturally we’re all thinking about the holidays (I hope last month helped you feel more prepared this year!) and about next year. What goals will we pursue? Should we even bother with New Year’s resolutions? Maybe this will be the year we finally get organized!

Well, this month I want to talk about planning and planners. Not so much goal setting and the like, though we may get into that at some point, but the actual processes of planning, choosing a planner, and creating systems that actually work for your particular challenges.

Pinnable image with four computer processor chips, each labelled with one of the four types described in this post.

Information Processing

The question of how your brain actually processes information can be described using a matrix:

Visual (also Audio)Everything Everywhere All At OnceColour-Coding
HiddenEverything in boxesBoxes within boxes

The planners you can buy tend to be for Micro-Hidden processors. They’re little books that you write in and carry with you, and everything is categorized and orderly, I don’t think it’s an accident that this is also the type of processor that most organizational systems are designed for. Somehow this Micro-Hidden style has become the expected “normal”, and I really don’t think it’s shocking that ADHDers tend to struggle to meet that expectation.

Most of us default to Macro-Visual, but if you think about the most functional part of your home or the type of planning you are actually good at, you’ll find which style is really “you”.

For example, I’m very much a Micro-Visual processor. I need auditory reminders, I like colour-coding my planner and my filing system, and even in the messiest parts of my home there are little pockets of organization where I have specific things in specific places.

You can also be a combination of types, just like with everything else. So as we go through strategies that may help with your executive dysfunction and planning-related issues, don’t worry too much about whether a given suggestion is meant for a specific type. More often than not, I’ll be describing the strategies as being good for either Macro or Micro processors, or as being good for either Visual or Hidden processors, rather than breaking it down into one of the four.

This idea isn’t mine. It’s from Clutterbug, a professional organizing company here in Canada. Cas (the owner) has done a show called “Hot Mess House” and she has a YouTube channel. She has ADHD, and her system for getting people’s homes organized is based on this concept. She calls each type of processor a different type of bug; I just distilled things into the base descriptors. Macro-Visual processors are “Butterflies”; Micro-Visual processors are “Bees”; Macro-Hidden processors are “Ladybugs”; and Micro-Hidden processors are “Crickets”. I highly recommend her web site and her quiz; doing the quiz is an easy way for you to figure out which type of processor you are!

The Best Planner for ADHD?

The axiom “the best planner for you is the planner you will use” is very true. I don’t think there’s one planner out there that will suit every single ADHDer, mostly because of the whole information processing thing. Couple that with our individual executive dysfunctions, and you have a lot of different planner needs. As a result, I think the most important thing is to identify the features that will help you the most and that suit your processing style, and look for a planning system that meets your needs in terms of both information processing and executive functioning. This system may end up being entirely digital, it may be entirely physical (written), or it may be a bit of both. What matters is that it works for you.

In general, though, a planning system needs to have the following features to make it truly useful:

  1. A calendar so you can keep track of the date, deadlines, schedules, appointments, etc.
  2. A way to keep track of your tasks, ideas, etc.

Everything else is dependent on your specific needs.

My Planner Needs

I’ve used a lot of different systems over the year, and now I make my own pages because I can’t find what I need in-store or even online.

As a Micro-Visual processor, I like to have things categorized and sorted, but I need everything in front of me at once. My husband and my child are both Macro-Visual processors, though my husband may be more of a Hidden processor in some ways and more of a Micro processor in other ways. But this means that a highly visual family calendar is most beneficial, and that keeping schedules and tasks visual for both of them—not to mention hard to miss—is essential.

You may have different needs, depending on which type of processor you are. This week’s printable is designed to help you assess your previous planning attempts, so you can start to really get a feel for what helps you and what doesn’t. Next week we’ll look at features that may help with the different executive functions. My hope is that by the end of December this year, you will better understand how you process information and what kinds of systems and strategies are most likely to help you with your specific executive dysfunctions.