Why AuDHD makes you not want to use a calendar

a teenage boy ignoring phone alarm
I’ve been thinking about why so many folks I know with AuDHD (my sons included) often wait until something “occurs to them” before they do it, instead of just scheduling it on a calendar. When I ask what made it difficult to follow through on a task, the answer is often, “It didn’t occur to me.”
 
The more I thought about how my sons’ and clients’ minds work, the more certain reasons for this issue made sense.
 
For starters, our sense of time can be different or almost nonexistent. The future often feels like this abstract, far-off thing that’s hard to grasp. So the urgency of a scheduled task doesn’t hit us until it’s right in front of our faces.
 
There’s also the whole executive functioning thing. These are the mental skills that help us manage time, stay organized, and follow through with tasks. For us, creating and sticking to a schedule can be more of a challenge because our executive functions don’t always work the way we’d like them to.
 
Our brains are drawn to things we’re good at and enjoy, and to things shiny and new. We like our dopamine hits like we like our coffee: immediate, energizing, and on demand. We may also see things we aren’t good at (e.g. time-management) as threats to our safety because they could result in embarrassment, frustration, or another emotion that could become too much to handle. Managing emotions is an executive function.
 
We can find motivation elusive unless the task at hand happens right now, seems interesting, or is somehow urgent. So, waiting until something “occurs to us” meets all of those needs. It’s like, “Oh crap, I almost forgot!” Now, completing the task is immediate, interesting, and urgent, which feels a lot more natural to us.
 
Then there’s the issue of task initiation, getting started. Just because something is scheduled doesn’t mean we’ll actually start it. A lot of us ignore the reminders we set. Sometimes, it’s easier to jump into a task when it spontaneously comes to mind and feels like the right moment. One of my boys is adamant about this. He insists it needs to feel right before he can do it.
 
And let’s not forget about the overwhelm factor. Managing a schedule can feel like a lot. Planning, setting reminders, and following through can add to our mental load. So, waiting until something occurs to us can just feel less intimidating and more manageable.
 
Finding strategies that work better with our brains is easier the better we understand how this quality shows up for us individually. Maybe that means someone helping to set up your digital calendar and reminders, scheduling multiple reminders for each appointment, or using some other tool that interrupts you. The key is to embrace the way our brains work and find what fits best for us.
 
Hope this helps! Let’s keep finding ways to work with our brains, not against them.
 
If this resonates with you and you want to dive deeper into learning strategies to help with this, reach out to me. Together, we can explore approaches tailor made to help you or someone you care about to navigate life’s responsibilities more effectively.
 
Thanks for being you,
Brian R. King, MSW
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