Coach Training Tools: Getting Personal With Your Planner – Part 2

Part 2 of great coach training tools from our guest blogger, ADHD Coach Becky Wheeler, shares tips for coaches, coaches in training and ADHD clients.

Step 3: Planning It Out

Sue has two active teens, a husband who travels a lot and many interests.  She prefers a paper planner but finds it doesn’t provide enough writing space.  Notes, telephone numbers and miscellaneous scribbles cover the page and hide essential information.  She’s constantly searching for that important note or number.  Looking at a typical day in her agenda, I can see how her disorganized approach has her frenetically ricocheting from home to appointment and back, stressed and overwhelmed.

After a little research, Sue opts for an online calendar with a dedicated space for notes, a Contacts Folder where she can permanently capture important contact information and, best of all, a way to have recurring appointments recreate automatically each week so she doesn’t have to remember all her standing activities.  I also suggest grouping her activities to save time, reduce stress and enable her to focus so she can actually enjoy her day.  Here’s how she allocates her time:

Desk Time for planning, scheduling appointments, reviewing emails, managing online orders and doing essential paperwork (Tuesday and Thursday mornings).

Exercise Time and Errands to be completed while she’s already out (Monday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons).

Personal Time and Appointments for lunch with a friend, practicing piano or a doctor’s appointment (Fridays).

Kid’s Activities including carpool schedule for weekly school, sports and church activities (varied).

Conclusion:  With time allotted for managing key areas of her life, Sue’s able to relax.  She has time allotted to think, which she says feels great.  Her schedule is tidy and so less stressful to look at, and open spaces (and booked slots) are easily spotted when scheduling new appointments.  She’s also taking advantage of alarms in her computer calendar to signal when it’s time for her to transition from one activity to another.  To her relief, these systems and routines eliminate Sue’s reliance on her working memory, which she is now free to dedicate elsewhere.

STEP 4: Checking It

“A tool is only as good as the skills of the craftsman using it.”  For planners, this translates as, “a well-organized planner only serves the person who looks at it.”  Here’s how two people manage to actually check their daily agenda.  

Noah is an attorney who meticulously records every detail of his life but wakes each morning in a fog, stumbling through his routine without looking at his agenda.  Attempts to review his agenda the night before don’t work since, by morning, he forgets what he saw.  He has to look at his planner first thing in the morning, so I ask, “Where is the first place you go each morning?” He smiles.  That’s it!  He decides he’ll put his planner on the toilet seat.  Now, how can he remember to place it there each night?   Noah will use his evening habit of brushing his teeth to anchor placing his planner in its spot onto this existing task.  For insurance, he tapes a reminder on a neon index card to the mirror.  Voila, it works!

Kevin, a self-described geek, is studying to be an engineer.  He loses every piece of paper but his technology is sacred – he is one with his smart phone.  He always has his planner with him, synchronized on his phone, desktop, laptop and iPod.  The problem – the planner’s buried a few clicks away and his alarms aren’t enough to prompt him to refer to his schedule.  Since he’s the technology expert, I ask how he can remind himself to refer to his schedule.  He thinks for a moment, pulls up his daily calendar and saves it as his screensaver.   I ask him how he did that and he says, “There’s an app for that!  Just Google it.”  Now every time he opens his phone, he’s reminded of his schedule for the day.

Conclusion:  Noah and Kevin both find their own answers for remembering.  Noah uses the piggy-back method of taking a current habit and simply adding another on top of it.  For Kevin, it’s finding a visual he can’t ignore.

In all cases, taking control of your planner (and your life) is all about learning about yourself, understanding how you work best, and being creative.  Happy planning!

Next week, Becky shares the ‘Top Ten Tips for Using Your Planner’.  Don’t miss it!

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Becky Wheeler is an ADHD & Life Coach dedicated to helping clients untangle their lives and find the strategies and systems that work best for them.  For more information, visit newfocuscoach.com.