An ADHD friendly way to Color Code your Calendar

The Reality

You’ve probably tried to color code your calendar before

#todo – find image of calendar monochrome and one that looks like a crux diex artwork , the floor of Maiquetia airport

The reality is that our ADHD brains don’t handle too well so many inputs at once. Imagine creating a new event for “Researching flights for Paris”, does that go into your travel calendar or your personal calendar? what if it is a business trip?

Next thing you know, you are fiddling with your calendar and not getting the actual work done.

After all, our ADHD brains are motivated by interest, challenge, novelty, and urgency.

The Solution: Categorize by Urgency

My Approach

I use a modified “street light” analogy for color coding.

I have 4 calendars inside my Google Calendar account.

Calendar A is for “Appointments” and it is red. I only put stuff that I can’t easily move, stuff that will take renegotiating with someone else in order to move them. So meetings go here as well as flights and dinners with friends.

Calendar B is for “Better get it done” and it is yellow. I only put here tasks that I timeblock and are important.. Things like Exercise and Weekly Review go here. As well as key tasks for my projects

C is for “Can move” and it’s for tasks that are flexible or fun. Things like watching a movie or gaming time.

Calendar D (Blue) = Daily and Weekly Routines (I know street lights only have 3 colors, but that’s why I said modified 😉 )

I like this setup, because I can quickly turn off the C + D calendars and just look at my A+B ones with what I REALLY signed up to do this week 🙂

I have ADHD, so it helps me go from “OMG What am I supposed to be doing??” to “Ah ok, let’s do this!” 💪🏻

It’s also calendar agnostic. I am currently doing it in Fantastical, but you could use it in good ol’ Google Cal if you prefer.

Setting them up

  • Start with your maing Google Calendar (the one with your name on it)
  • Go to settings and rename it to “Appointments”. Set it as red
    • Note: The reason why I didn’t make an “Appointments” calendar and move existing appointments to it, is because I already have weekly meetings in the future and I don’t want the meeting invites to be resent.
    • If you work in a meeting-heavy environment, you don’t want to add friction to your system by having to move meetings to a new calendar every time you book another meeting. Don’t tell yourself that you’ll remember 😉
  • Make 3 new ones for the B, C and D calendars respectively.
  • Profit! no seriously, look at that beauty.

Inspiration and Thanks

Major kudos and infinite thanks to fellow ADHD content creator Danielle Colada for inspiring me to write this.

I saw her video where she explained how she manages her todo list inside Google Calendar with an AABCDF scheme and was hooked

Personally, I am not a fan of using my calendar as a todo-list, and prefer to use my task manager and calendar side by side. So I simplified her system further into the “modified streetlight” analogy.

This is her original video. If you are a “Calendar only” person, I think you’ll have a blast with her system. Thank you so much for the inspiration Danielle!