ADD / College Student

I'm a junior in college and I have ADD. I'm pretty scattered and have lists, ideas, thoughts, notes, etc. EVERYWHERE. I'm really bad with time management and I'm trying to design my own planner that can help me pull things together :-) Does anybody (particularly other college students) have any tips on things that have worked for you?

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This may sound crazy...

.... But several years ago on the Newtontalk list, a couple guys with ADD just raved over the Newton as a tool for helping them cope with ADD. The Newton MessagePad was a product by Apple back in the early and mid-90s. It is like an electronic notebook/diary/address book, but much, much more. It truly is a personal digital assistant, helping you in ways that are difficult to quantify, yet truly work. The main problem these days is that Apple ceased production years ago, so getting it to work with modern hardware is very difficult. However, the most important thing now is getting programs onto it, and a printer to get your notes out of it. If you can find a PostScript printer with Ethernet, then printing is pretty much beat. Software is going to be your hard part.

However, from all I remember from the discussion, I suspect a Newton will be your best bet (Doug has reviewed Newtons and eMates (a newton with a built-in keyboard) on this site, do do a search to find out about it. There will be people here and on who will be eager to help you get started.

(The Newton helps, for a few reasons. 1. It occupies your mind, but in a constructive way. 2. You can quickly write something down, but it's never lost--only a quick search away. 3. The assist function allows you to write something down quick, deal with it later. 4. Alarms remind you of things that you forget--I will never know if I'm ADD, but I know I am scatter-brained, and alarms save me constantly! My Newton was the best tool, however, for actually _creating_ the alarms. My Palm is only a distant second)

Just an off-the-wall suggestion. Nothing more.



Here is one template I found here...

I do not have ADD, so I do not exactly know what would help you... But, I am an extremely scattered person and here is what I have done...

If you can take a piece of paper or index card that is all the same size; put a stack of this paper in various places (next to bed, in the car, in your purse/wallet, on your desk, by the phone, etc.). Any time a thought comes to you, write it down. have a box at home where all of these cards get thrown into every day. Each night (or if you are a morning person), go through this box and grab the ones you need for today. The others can sit in the box for the next time you review, or punch a hole in the upper corner of each and throw them on a caribiner or index ring (or just secure them with a binder clip-no need for a puncher then). Throw them in your school bag to review again when you have time or add to them as you are at school.

If you need a weekly or monthly calendar to schedule due dates and such, check the template section here and search for whatever size paper you are using. Print the calendars out and put them on the front of your stack so you can see where you need to be and when. cross things off as you go!

not sure if any of this will help or just make it all a little more scattered... I am hoping it helps! :) Send us more specific questions too and maybe we can narrow down the issues you are having...

nay nay

Time management for students with ADD

Hello, Ashley!

I assist college students just like you!

What has helped the students I work with is to have a MONTHLY 8.5" x 11" size calendar that they 3 - hole punch and put in the front of a looseleaf binder. The monthly calendar just has the day of the week and day number on it, e.g, Friday, June 3. On that calendar they post when all tests and assignments are due for all their classes.When they need the details of that assignment, they refer back to the respective class syllabus.

Then I have them plot their WEEKLY schedule on a sheet of paper I give them that has 24 hours on it for each day of the week. Once they plot activities that won't change throughout the semester on this master weekly sheet, e.g., their class, lab, and/or work hours, I have them make 15 copies of this weekly schedule (one sheet for each week of the semester)and place those sheets in the same binder as the monthly calendar. On this weekly sheet they write the differing activities for that particular week, e.g., doctor appointments, study times, errands that must be run, etc. Why I have them do this is so that they can build in study time, time to complete written assignments, and even recreation time, otherwise they just "hope that sometime this week I should be able to find time to study" which normally doesn't happen!

Ashley, please let me know if this works for you! Best wishes, Theresa

Do you have the template for the sheet that has 24 hours...


That sounds like an awesome system that I could maybe use for my soon to be 5th grader.

For the weekly sheet with 24 hours per day, do you have it as a template you could share? I've thought about doing this before but had trouble fitting it on a page.

The Organized Student

As a newly diagnosed ADHDer, with two ADHD children, both with very different manifestations of ADHD, I found the book "The Organized Student" very helpful for setting up systems for my children, elementary to college-age, as well as helping to get myself set up with systems for handling all the information and appointments, etc. I often feel overwhelmed by it all! The book was an easy read and had very good information on how to set up and tweak systems to meet the needs to do well in school, and use those same skills to do well in life. This book was just in time, as I'm going back to school for my Master's this fall!
I used to carry around a Circa notebook with to-do lists, projects, notes, etc, as well as a monthly/weekly untimed planner. I am now in the process of combining the two via Circa, using pages I've purchased, downloaded and created. Now if my desk punch would just arrive... Good luck.

Is this the correct book ?
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Yes, that's the book!

I highly recommend it for ALL students, but especially ADHD! I've finally managed to corral the stuff on top of my computer desk and can now find anything quickly instead of rifling through piles! Good luck!

+2 for a template

I'm a college student myself and your system sounds like it would work really well for me. I'd love to find a 24 hr weekly template, and as the previous post said, it is difficult to fit on a page. Mind sharing?


Have you tried Sara's template?

It's perfect!

Thank you so much!

Hi Ashley, I have ADHD, and

Hi Ashley,

I have ADHD, and much like you have a struggled keep organized and on top of time management. One of the things I found that worked well for me was a combination of computer, cell phone and paper.

I use my laptop for taking many of my class notes. I find that this works because I can type everything and then go back and re-organize them into something that makes sense, since often I would worry about it while writing and find myself focusing on that and not the teacher. When typing, donn't worry about spelling, and I would use just a basic text editing program to keep my distractions low. Also, very importantly, I would always explain to my teacher on the first day of class that I had ADHD and that using my computer would help me preform in the class. I only had one teacher who had an issue with that, and oddly it was a engineering class.

I use my cellphone's voice recording feature through out the day to make notes as thoughts float through my head, and in some classes I use this function in addition to the laptop (again, I always ask about that). I make time at the end of the day ( about 15 mintues) to sit and listen to my notes and place things on my todo list/calendar/ etc. Since I have a MAC and Iphone, this is all synchronized, so I have two places I can enter the information and yet have both the same.

As for Paper, well, this is where I fall apart as well. What I've found is that for a planner, making it portable is, for me, the most important trait. If's too big, I find that I don't use it at all by virtue of not having it on me. What I have is something I bought in a local Japanese stationary store that is 3 1/4"wide by 6" tall. Works wonderfully, but I do write small. A trick that I employ with this binder is that I have several different styles of paper in it, and each is for different thoughts. Blank is for quickly witting down notes and ideas, grid for lists, Brown lined for important notes and things I need to remember, yellow for general thoughs, and green is for my blog ideas. I also have a smaller montly calander in the to write down dates I need to keep handy, just incase neitehr phone or lap top are near by.

Something that I've been looking into is the Leveger Cica/rollabind binder systems. What I like about this system is you can have various sizes of paper in one binder. This would allow you to have several note books, but be able to consolidate important notes into one location.

Most important thing to remember: Keep working on your system. Over time, you'll start to get more insight into how your mind is working, and you'll start to get the pieces in the right place. If it works, keep it. If it sort of works, work on it. I've been working on making a good solid system for years, and still evolving. Good Luck! You're on a good web site for help.

best planners

I have spent some serious time searching for the holy grail of all planners. The best paper version is the Power Planner by Power Systems. It is a beast (beacuase of the weight) but it is nice because it has a place to put all of your lists, ideas, thoughts, etc. Then you review it later and decide what to do with it.
If you prefer a computer (especially if you travel with an ipod/iphone which can be your catch all device for those notes, etc.), David Allen and Omni group have created an excellent program that uses similar methods in the OmniFocus software.
You can pretty much use whatever you like, but you need to have one place where everything goes and you need to refer to this place frequently.

I would also recommend David Allen's book "Getting Things Done"

(I am not a rep for him; I just finished the audiobook during my commute.)

In addition to computer, smart phone or tablet and paper,

I recommend color coding your class notes by subjects using blue, purple, brown, white, teal, gray or clear plastic envelopes or folders and using green, orange and red to file your assignments by urgency.

Unless people are color blind, this system is very good at triggering memories.

It is like an automatic tickler file.

im a student...sorta ADHD, id say

i use color coding. i carry my folders together, with rubber washer rings from Depot threaded through the plastic folders' holes (they have slits). I use a regular circa and a regular spiral notebook too. Except for the notebook, everything's color-coded. I've been using the same color system, with some variations based on what I have, for years now. But i do need all of my folders on me at all times. Cause i never check the general stuff folder.

Circa: check.
Now onto...fountain pens.
This new office supply kick is getting mighty expensive real quick.