“Where are my keys?”

“Am I supposed to be somewhere right now?”

“I know I had more calls to make today, but I can’t remember.”

“That was due today?”

Your ADHD brain works at warp speed. You don’t miss much, as everything catches your attention. Unfortunately, it can be nearly impossible to slow your mind down enough to truly take it all in, let alone organize and remember it all. So what can you do? Read on for some tips about things you can put in place to help provide your brain with the structure and organization it needs for optimal performance.

Create a Launch Pad

Choose one place in your home to put a hook and/or bowl to keep your keys, wallet, phone, purse, money, etc.  Place it near your usual entry door or in the room you go to when you arrive home (i.e. kitchen, bedroom).  Plug your phone charger in here as well.  Create a habit of always depositing these items in this place.  If remembering to do this is difficult, place sticky notes at eye level on exit doors, the coffee pot, your car steering wheel, or wherever you already have an established habit.

Visual Reminders

Remembering to order something, retrieve or put something away, or do a task can be difficult with ADHD.  Seeing a reminder is key.  But be careful not to overload yourself with these reminders or they won’t be as meaningful or useful (the whiteboard with 50 reminders isn’t too helpful!)

  • Use a magnetized white board on the refrigerator to capture thoughts or highlight key tasks.  Use sticky notes (sparingly!) in key places such as mirrors, eye level on doors, your phone, threaded into your keys, and anywhere you regularly fix your eyes.
  • As a last resort, write key things to remember on the back on your hands.  You’d be surprised how often it catches our eyes!

Keep a To-Do List

Lists keep us organized, but not if we can’t keep track of the list or we have too many.  If you haven’t already, make the switch to keeping your list online.  We recommend Google Tasks or Any.Do.

  • Organize the list in a few broad chunks or categories such as home, work, personal, and backburner.
  • Force yourself to limit it to no more than 5 categories with no subcategories.
  • Regularly clear out completed tasks.
  • Create a habit of checking the list several times a day.  It is its own visual reminder!
  • You must keep a calendar. We recommend Google calendar as it’s cloud based and you cannot lose it.  It syncs to everything, including your to-do lists.


Putting everything on autopilot is an ADHD’er best friend and clears up a tremendous amount of headspace.  The less you have to remember, the less you have to forget.

  • Set all bills to autopay on the date they are due. Put a note in your calendar for the day it is set to clear and the amount, so you can be sure to keep track of your finances.
  • Enter appointments into a calendar with reminders for both a few days before and a few hours before the appointment.
  • For long term planning, such as car insurance premiums, birthdays, annual appointments, also schedule these with reminders a month out, a week out and a day before.
  • No more forgetting to pay a bill or pick up a card or gift!

Count and Sing

Our brains like to organize objects into numbers and we all know how easily a tune can get stuck in our heads!

  • Count – when walking out the door, count the number of items you need to take.  Phone, wallet, keys = 3 items.  When going into a grocery store, count the things you need: bread, cheese, milk, cat food = 4
  • Sing – This is especially helpful when searching for something to keep your mind focused on your task and avoid distractions.  Example: (to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star) “I am looking for my shoes.  My brown shoes.  My brown shoes.”


Yes, it takes some work, but once you can find the right combination that gives your ADHD mind the structure and support it needs, the possibilities are endless.

Dr. Laura Linebarger, Psy.D.


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Laura Linebarger, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in ADHD coaching and empowerment, substance abuse and other behavioral addictions, as well as men’s issues.



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