I am often asked what tools I like best for ADHD business owners, and which business tools I use myself. The ones I like best for keeping you motivated and on track with your business are pretty simple—you don’t have to invest in a lot of extra stuff to make things work. Some of my favorite tools are mindset oriented, and some of them are practical nuts and bolts tools, most of them very low-tech. No programs to learn or software to invest in.
If you’ve made a commitment to yourself to work on your business, please be patient with yourself. Many ADHD business owners like to work when the spirit moves them. If you’re not used to being consistent, doing things in order, and following steps, you may slip up, go off on a tangent, and get impatient with yourself. When this happens, take a deep breath, remember your commitment to yourself, and go back to where you left off. No need to beat yourself up. Every start is a new start. Just take a deep breath and begin again, putting one foot in front of the other. Everyone slips up—it’s okay!
2. An Open Mind
There are many ways to do things, and many people you can get advice from and learn from. You may hear things explained in many different ways from others—perhaps by ADHD coaches who don’t understand business, or by business coaches who don’t understand ADHD. If you follow the advice in my articles, webinars, books, or courses, remember they are designed specifically for business owners with ADHD, so the advice is going to be a bit different than what you may have heard before. I explain things a bit differently, and I’m going to ask you to do some things others have not asked you to do. On the other hand, I’m going to skip over things you may have heard are essential. I urge you to keep an open mind as you choose which methods work best for you.
Working on your business can get tough at times, I’m not going to kid you. You may even want to hang it up and go back to doing things willy nilly! But working on your business is worth it—and you know this already if you are spinning your wheels, and not getting anywhere. Putting structure and strategies in place will help you in the long run and bring you tons of relief, even if it does take perseverance to carry you through. I hear this all the time from my clients who have persevered!
4. Sticky Notes!
Sticky notes are my favorite business tool, and I’m betting they will soon become yours as well, if they aren’t already. Stock up on various sizes—I like the 3 x 3” and 4 x 4” squares. Sticky notes are great for ADHDers because you don’t need to have fully formed thoughts or an outline, you can just put anything on a sticky note and stick it up! One of the most powerful strategies I teach (and also one of the simplest) is my Sticky Note Brain Dump—Strategy 23 in my Business Blueprint.
5. Big Sticky Note Flip Chart
I use these for brainstorming and also for backdrops for my sticky notes. You can get regular flip charts, but if you get the sticky note ones, you can tear off and stick your pages on the wall as big giant sticky notes, without using tape. Extra handy.
6. “One Notebook”
This is my name for the place where you’ll keep all of your notes together. If you’re a techy person, you may balk at this as old-fashioned, but I would also say don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Many who think they will hate this simple system end up loving it.
Try an unlined sketchbook to start out, available at office supply stores. You can find out more about how I use my One Notebook (and how it has kept me sane and organized for over 30 years!) in my Business Blueprint, Strategy 3.
7. White Board
Great for notes to yourself, a simple outline for the day, and as a backdrop for sticky notes. Don’t be stingy here—if you’re going to get one, get a big one! Some white boards are also magnetic, handy for pinning notes and clippings.
It doesn’t matter what kind of timer you use, but make sure you have one. I use the timer on my phone. There are many you can find online to pull up on your computer. Some people prefer a separate timer, either digital or non-digital, like a kitchen timer or a stopwatch. Just make sure your timer allows you to set reminders that ding to help you time and organize your tasks and commitments. And when you do set it to help you work within a time limit, don’t ignore it when it goes off!
9. Laminated Year-at-a-Glance Wall Calendar
ADHDers have trouble with the idea of the passage of time, and a year-at-a-glance wall calendar is a terrific tool to help with this. When you only look at a week or a month at a time in your daytimer or Google calendar, it’s easy to forget what has happened in the past or where you are headed in the future and how events intertwine. The yearly calendar is very helpful for not letting time sneak up on you, and for getting better at using time in your business.
10. Week-at-a-Glance Digital Calendar
You probably already keep a weekly calendar, right? Whatever you use now is fine to start with, although if you’re not using a digital calendar you may want to reconsider. Time management is critical for ADHD business owners, and blocking out your time in a consistent, detailed, and meaningful manner can relieve a lot of stress. I use Google calendar because it syncs with my phone and scheduling system, and I can move things around easily. This method also allows me to skip an overwhelming to-do list with 4700 items on it (like yours). I haven’t used a to-do list in years, since I started using my weekly calendar correctly. You can find out more about the crucial function of time blocking in Strategy 27 of my Business Blueprint.
*If you liked these Top 10 Business Tools, you’ll love my Step-by-Step Business Blueprint, 39 Success Strategies for Business Owners with ADHD.