Productivity is personal
Productivity, like ADHD, is personal. There is no one-size-fits-all approach because successful productivity looks different for everyone. What works well for others may not work for you, and vice versa.
Maybe you want to read a book a month, finish a writing project, or miss fewer appointments in 2023. Productivity apps and tools can help with these goals, but there are hundreds out there, so it’s essential to think critically about your specific needs. Consider which tasks frequently challenge you; what triggers ADHD couch lock for you?
Once you understand exactly what you need help with, you can focus on solutions. I’ve assembled my top six productivity apps and tools (and honorable mentions!) that help with everything from calendaring to password management.
Best for: Overall ADHD symptom management
Available on: iOS and android
Inflow is designed by people with ADHD, for people with ADHD, using an approach based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The app offers science-based programs designed to help manage ADHD symptoms and the different areas of life affected by them.
For example, users can opt into modules on topics like Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, procrastination, and time management, each with unique challenges to encourage positive habits and structure. If you're interested in social engagement, you can post answers to the community's daily questions and discuss them with other members.
Inflow also provides medication reminders, 1:1 coaching sessions with certified ADHD coaches, journal prompts, accountability coaching, and live events, which cover everything from Q&A's to group discussions led by Inflow's clinical director.
Best for: Calendar, meeting, and appointment management
Available for: iOS, android, and desktop browsers
Google Calendar is a go-to classic for scheduling appointments, events, and reminders. If you use Gmail, you already have Google Calendar waiting for you! The calendar allows you to manage as many calendars as you want within a single screen. It’s also fully integrated with other apps like Discord, Slack, and Trello.
Google Calendar has a low learning curve with its clean interface and familiarity. With add-ons such as Zoom, you can quickly become a super-user. I personally downloaded an extension that will text me before critical appointments, like the dentist or therapy. If you prefer an all-in-one tool, Google Calendar may be for you.
Best for: Task-tracking, to-do lists, and general productivity
Available for: iOS, android, desktop browsers, Mac, and Windows
Trello is a kanban app designed to help companies and individuals organize and track work. Users enter tasks into 'cards' that live in their respective 'boards' or project spaces. Cards can be as granular as you prefer. For example, I broke up my cleaning chores into individual cards in my weekly chores board. Breaking up my chores list into individual tasks makes the work more palatable. It gives me several 'easy wins' for my ADHD.
And because my ADHD brain loves to see progress, I can click and drag cards to different stages - to do, doing, and done. I can even create checklists of steps for each task and fill a progress bar as I advance through them.
Trello is highly customizable, and you can add creative and personal touches. It's my top pick for task-tracking due to the personalization, drag-and-drop usability, and the functionalities with a free account.
Best for: Digital notes, brainstorming, and project management
Available for: Desktop browsers, Mac, and Windows
Notion is a digital notebook platform with a sharp minimalist design and high user customization. It's a flexible platform designed for note-taking but also supports task management, reading lists, calendaring, meal-planning, and more.
My ADHD brain often tricks me into buying a paper planner every six months with the thought of, "this is going to be the one to turn things around." I'm happy to report that I haven't caved to that craving since I started using Notion in July 2021.
Notion's template library provides a structure for every kind of notebook I've created so far, and it's been invaluable for my writing projects and professional development notes. In addition, the personal license offers unlimited pages making it an attractive and cost-efficient solution for centralizing all things typed.
Best for: Password management
Available for: iOS, android, and desktop browsers
Passwords are the bane of my existence. Every day my brain goes at top speed in a hundred different directions. However, none of these directions point to critical information like basic math or passwords. Fortunately, LastPass comes to my rescue every time.
LastPass streamlines password management through vaults, secure and encrypted spaces for your account information. You can even store credit card information for quick purchases, which is immensely helpful if you, like me, frequently lose track of your wallet.
The free plan covers unlimited passwords, multi-factor authentication, and password generation, limiting access to only one device type. You can upgrade to a $3/month plan to use it on multiple devices.
Honorable mentions ...
Best for: Focused workflows
Available for: iOS and android
If you need an incentive to work without interruption, Forest may be the app you’re looking for.
The premise is simple: When you start a session, you plant a tree, and put your phone down. The tree grows while you work. If you leave the app early, your tree withers and dies. You can work for as little as ten minutes and up to two hours. In ‘Plant together’ mode, challenge friends and family by working together to grow a forest.
The best part? Forest partners with Trees for the Future, a tree-planting organization. When you spend the virtual coins earned in-app, Forest donates real money, which goes towards planting real trees!