Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ADHD: Visual Reminders

A pencil stuck in my eyeglasses to remind me to draw

There is one kind of reminder that I always fall back on when sticky notes, calendar apps, todo lists, and alarms fail. It is the visual reminder, and it can be as powerful as it is simple.

One of the most notorious downsides of having adult ADHD is being forgetful. I can remind myself to do something every hour of every day of the week and forget to do it moments away from the deadline because something caught my eye. If I want to remember to bring something with me, sometimes there is nothing more helpful—short of stapling it to my forehead—than sticking it in front of the door.

Is it time to return the library books? Stick them in a bag and lean the bag against the front door. I'll have to practically step on them in order to get out of my apartment. Do you need to deliver some important papers? Get a magnet and fix the papers at eye level right above the door handle. They'll smack you in the face when you open the door,

When I forget to do this, I can leave important papers at home over and over again. When I became frustrated with myself last night because I forgot to draw seven days in a row, I stuck my art pencil in my eyeglasses and muttered to myself, "Let's see you forget to draw now." I wonder why I hadn't thought of that before. Maybe it's because I'm used to only using visual reminders for things I need to take with me. At any rate, the trick worked like a charm this morning.

As useful as this technique can be, there are some downsides. It's not a very useful technique for projects. I can stick a project at the foot of my bed or in a doorway, and I'll adapt and learn to walk over it. Projects usually require a different approach because they aren't quickly dealt with. Also, if you live with somebody the visual reminder technique may drive them bonkers. I used to leave the trash on the outside doorstep so that I'd see it when I left the apartment, but my ex-wife left the apartment first and grew tired of tripping over the trash on her way to work. I had to change that reminder ploy out of consideration for her. Frankly, your roommates may not appreciate your taxes pile having a new home in the middle of the living room. Clear this technique with the people you live with, and remember to use it for things that are quick to wrap up.


What are your favorite ways to use visual reminders? Let us know in the comments.