Illustration of a tabletop with cookies, coffee, a plant and an open planner

Designing a Planner

Designing a planner has taught me everything about neurodivergent productivity. Not, everything, but the lessons have been wild!

Productivity that isn’t aligned to your values is dangerous.

Wow, didn’t know I was going to come out swinging. But look, I’ve been there; burnt out doing a whole bunch of shit that mattered to someone else, while I was doing the grunt work simply because I didn’t know what mattered the most to me and what I value. I was really productive, taking on the wrong challenges, and wondering when my life would get better. What do you really want? What do you want that doesn’t include external validation?

I will also mentioned the lesson that I learned the hard way: Even if you love the work you’re doing– you need to actively engage in other parts of your life and wellness. It’s a the tortoise and the hare scenario playing out in your life.

Here’s a brief description of what my balanced life looks like; I wake up at 5am in the morning and listen to podcasts and drink coffee and take care of moving laundry along or small kitchen prep while my coffee is brewing. After about a hour I map out my day by looking at the appointments I have and the goals that are on my weekly view. I take care of my daughter, I work and reply to emails. Usually I’ll get about 5 hours to myself in the late morning and afternoon and I’ll work on my tasks and also make time for movement. Tasks are not exclusively work related! I have grocery, reminder to call a friend, and wellness tasks in there. In the evenings, I unwind with knitting and an audiobook, or even a family walk around downtown Redmond. I’m in bed by 10pm. I could work all the hours that my kid is taken care of; but I don’t, because my goals extend past what I can accomplish professionally and that’s work life balance.

Create intentions based off of your values– and look at them daily.

When I say intentions I mean goals, but the word ‘goals’ feels so abusive sometimes. I’ve set so many goals in the past and crushed some, but others have just fluttered away in the mist of other more seemingly important endeavors.

How I see goals and intentions now is a way to live out my values.

How do you find your values? This takes time, and also can change based on the season of life you’re in.

Personally, I value quality, freedom, beauty, & ritual. At least, these are my tops, and the meaning of these is incredibly personal to me. For example, quality refers much more to the depth of experiences and relationships I want to have than about perfectionism.

From my list of values I came up with a bunch of experiences I want to have, and the one’s related my values I have prioritized. Much more than just prioritized, I’ve broken them down into smaller steps to find out how to make them happen.

Breakdown the end goal into small pieces & here’s how

Start at the end; what does it look like to experience the goal accomplished? What is the ‘product’ of that goal being achieved?

Milestones: what are some indicators along the way to getting there? How long will each part take?

What can you do quarterly, monthly, and weekly?

Make a plan to learn from task avoidance, distraction, and procrastination.

There is a lesson about who you are, and how you are really doing each time you identify task avoidance and procrastination! I’ve heard some people even say that ADHD might be an attempt at the brain to evolve past depression by not being able to focus on externally motivated tasks. Stay with me here. What if your brain was trying to help you out by not being able to get something done?

I can appreciate the need to get things done despite having raging ADHD. The suggestion of adding a whole new process to procrastination might disgust some, but I’ve found a lot of healing and productivity by analyzing why I’m not doing what I ‘need’ to be doing.


  • What is the task I’m putting off?
  • Who will know if I don’t do this?
  • How long will this take?
  • Do I have all the information/ ingredients/ parts to get this done?
  • What’s the minimum? maximum?
  • Do I want to take on more tasks like this or is there a way to stop doing tasks like this?

I have used the Plan Focus Flow planner to find clarity around what I care about, and a roadmap to creating the kind of life I want. I feel healed from much of the burnout symptoms I’ve experienced most of my adult life.

For right now, the 4th version is available on Amazon. My intention is to move away from Amazon in the next year, and self-publish & sell directly from the website. Every purchase made helps me towards that goal.

The summer of 23' I designed and published my own planner. After seeing a gap on the market for a lightweight and flexible planner, for us with ADHD designing a planner has taught me so much.
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