ADHD and Collaborative Calendaring
By Chantal Duval

“Imagine living in a fast-moving kaleidoscope, where sounds, images, and thoughts are constantly shifting. Feeling easily bored, yet helpless to keep your mind on tasks you need to complete. Distracted by unimportant sights and sounds, your mind drives you from one thought or activity to the next” (Neuwirth, 1994). This is how people with ADHD live. This can seriously impede their ability to function in school, the workplace, and at home as well as impact relationships. ADHD is a neurological (brain) disorder that is diagnosed by a pattern of behaviors over a period of time. Behaviors such as hyperactivity (uncontrollable need to move), impulsivity (such as blurting out answers in class), inattention (unable to focus on a task). ADHD also impacts one’s ability to prioritize and organize objects, tasks and thoughts (such as long term projects, or writing assignments).

A major struggle for people with ADHD is organizing one’s schedule and prioritizing tasks that are necessary for their success at home, school and work. Everyone has many responsibilities that they need to keep up with in these different areas of life whether it be remembering to take out the trash or wash the laundry, to needing to schedule doctors appointments, meet with professors, keep track of assignments and so on. Many people organize themselves via calendars and date planners.

Today, people are taking it a step further with digital organization, especially since the invention of personal devices. There are dozens of collaborative calendar services that have become available such as Google Calendar and iCal. These services allow people to maintain a digital online calendar that can be shared with friends, family, colleagues or the public. This is very helpful for integrating schedules for scheduling of appointments or events, because one can simply look to see when someone is available by viewing his/her calendar. These calendars can also send email reminders, present pop-up reminders on devices or even send a text reminder about upcoming events. This tool can be very helpful for people who are very busy or have a tendency to forget about things that needed to be done. This web 2.0 tool could be very useful for people with ADHD to set reminders for everyday tasks and events. However, this tool relies on the user adding these events and reminders to their calendar in order for it to work. This can be a sticking point for people with ADHD. Yes, they can rely on assistance from family member or friend to add events for them, but that person may not always be aware of something that needs to be added to the calendar. They would need to be notified of items that may need to be added by the person who has ADHD.

This is a great web 2.0 tool that would be a huge help to someone with ADHD, but what good is it if they do not remember to add events and reminders when they are at a computer next? This could easily be solved by having a personal assistant shadow them all day, but this is not realistic for many people, so they can turn to the next best thing. Apple recently debuted a voice recognition program for their iPhone called Siri. With a push of a button, Siri is ready to help with many things such as looking up information, making a phonecall and more. Siri also will create calendar events and reminders for you as you tell it to. For example, touch the button and when Siri responds say, "Remind me that I have a doctor's appointment on Monday at 4:00 PM," then Siri will create that event on the calendar. Then you can add reminders/alerts by hand or say something like, "remind me to bring the trash to the curb when I get home". In this case, no time is set. Instead Siri will set up an alert that is location sensitive meaning that when you arrive at that location it will remind you. It does this using the GPS function in the phone.

Siri is a relatively new program that will likely undergo many more developments to add to its features and it's ability to assist like a personal assistant would. Tools like this one can make online calendars and to do lists quick and easy to maintain for anyone.

Reference articles:

Neuwirth, S. (1994). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Retrieved from