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Living with a disability that involves possible seizures, paralysis, and tremors forced me to become conscientious about the records I keep as figuring out my triggers, keeping track of my medication, and keeping track of my seizures have required me to spend a lot of time keeping good records. Through spending a lot of time on YouTube, exploring the bullet journal community, and reading many books over the past year have led me to use my current planner system. Living with ADHD, I find I need to change it up every few months. Today, I want to share with you how I use my planner (which you can check out here) to make my life easier while still keeping track of all the aspects of my health that help me be able to do more with my life.

1) Activity Tracking

The most obvious thing I use my planner for is activity tracking. While most people focus on the appointments they have throughout the day, from the image above, you can see that I try to keep that column mostly empty. Instead, I use the column next to it to track what I do throughout the day. When I track what I do, I like to use various digital planning stickers I find fun, like the Happy Downloads, My Little Puffy and inmidnights stickers I have included in the picture. This lets me check in as I add activities through the day and see if I’m not pacing myself well. I’m also able to put my goals on the adjoining page and mark as I complete those. Seeing the fun stickers is also incredibly validating for days where I feel like I haven’t done a lot, but I can see a lot of stickers showing that the feeling isn’t an accurate reflection of my reality.

2) Improve My Mindset

You may have noticed that I include sticky notes for affirmations and gratitude each day. These are little ways I work to improve my mindset every day. I spend a few minutes each morning and evening deciding on something I can believe that day about life that is good. In the morning, I try to give myself a pick me up by writing one thing positive I believe about myself. With a lot of trauma revolving around not being enough or believing I was too weird to be liked, I aim to slowly erode away those beliefs as I write one thing I can believe that day about myself. I know affirmations are an interesting topic as they can backfire if you don’t believe them and some people have found they don’t have an immediate impact like they expect, but for me, like an antidepressant, I notice a difference on if I do this regularly for a while versus if I forget for a few weeks. I’m overall more compassionate with myself and believe more in what I can do. The same idea is true for gratitude. I’m currently toying with calling it daily wins, but the basic idea I want is to show that good things exist in my world even if I am struggling with symptoms. In the end, the idea is to give me a better outlook on my reality so I can recognize the good things that exist in life instead of just focusing on everything that isn’t where I want it.

3) Goal Setting

I mentioned this earlier with activity tracking, but I set my goals in my to do list in my planner. I know what I want to get done each week and I break it down into bits that I work on each day. With my digital planner on my iPad, I’m able to write my goals in the to do list and be very flexible if I don’t actually do all the things I wanted to do. I just cut and paste the tasks from one day to the next to keep the tasks top of mind while also being able to see that I’m not setting myself up for failure by setting myself too many tasks. No more than 5 tasks are scheduled in a day so that I can ensure I don’t overdo it. I also use the other tasks in the list to gauge what other tasks can realistically coexist with other tasks. For instance, writing a blog posts are a bigger task that doesn’t play with some other tasks, including writing other blog posts. Seeing where I have things set to write and where I give myself recovery helps me to keep a productive writing schedule while still allowing me to pace myself and not burn out.

4) Stay on top of household things

The image included doesn’t show a lot about what is going on in my household, partially because I want to respect the privacy of my loved ones. But I have chores, a kid, a girlfriend, and a dog who all factor into my life. Because there are multiple counts of ADHD in that list, it’s important to write the things that matter for each of those areas. While my ability to do chores is limited, keeping track of when I do more energy intensive chores lets me recognize the need to rest and schedule that time in. I’m also able to plan for many big chores so that I can not be recovering from something else when that time comes. The same principles apply to events around my kid or girlfriend. I value my relationships and making sure I have enough energy to get the most out of special times with them is an important way I can connect with them. I can also see if I’m not spending as much time with a loved one and consciously make the choice to reach out to them and connect when I notice those gaps.

5) Overall Life Tracking

If you look back at the original image, you will see tabs on the left side. I put icons over the numbers that come in the planner to better remember what each section leads to and under each of those I use templates from LiveMinimalPlanners to keep track of my seizures, blood pressure, doctor’s appointments, and general brain state. Each of those tabs is a clickable link which allows me to make entries every day (or as needed) but be able to see trends. I also have some inserts from Happy Downloads to track things important to this blog, my publishing business, and my personal writing career. A business coach I’ve worked with, Meredith Canaan, frequently shares about how what you track you attract. I find this to be true in areas like money and social media following where her advice is geared towards. I also find that by tracking things I want less of, I can find trends or triggers that can help prevent things. While I don’t want more seizures, tracking my seizures has allowed me to identify triggers I could then start to consciously avoid. When you track what is important, you can shape your life the way you want to see it.

These are the ways that I use my digital planner to help design my life around my disability. What methods do you use to live better with a disability? What resources do you love? Share them in the comments below.