A cluttered inbox. Constant chatter on Slack. Pings emanating from your phone all day. That long list of urgent tasks you have to get done this week. We’re all facing more distractions at our fingertips than ever before.
Blocking out all that extra noise poses a challenge for anyone, but no more so than for people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Fortunately, there are some tons of apps that can help you avoid the temptation to procrastinate and get you working more efficiently. So let’s take a closer look at the best productivity tools for ADHDers.
Most of the options on this list are free (or free to try out), with some offering added features in premium tiers.
1. Google Calendar: The best tool for time blocking
What it does: One of the most widely-used calendar apps, Google Calendar lets you schedule events, reminders and tasks in visual time blocks, paving the way for you to get into deep work with minimal distractions.
How it helps you be more productive: Getting clear on your priorities and defending realistic time for these on your calendar is a great way to build more structure and deliberate focus into your work day. With Google Calendar, you can see your time at work blocked in daily, weekly and monthly views and quickly earmark specific time slots to work on tasks. If you find you struggle with time blindness and adhering to strict time blocks, you’ll get an alert to ensure you won’t forget to move onto the next thing.
Why we love it: For starters, it’s 100% free to use. Plus, if you already use Gmail, then Google Calendar can automatically create events based on emails you receive – a nifty little time saver! It’s also super easy to use and offers lots of integrations and extensions.
2. Trello: The best tool for Personal Kanban
What it does: There’s no shortage of digital tools you can use to manage your work with Kanban, but Trello is a definite favorite of ours here at Timely. You can use it for all your to-dos, or you can use it for different projects by making a board for each project.
How it helps you be more productive: Personal Kanban is particularly effective for plotting out tasks or projects with lots of moving parts and keeping them on track. Instead of your typical task list, Trello’s Kanban boards feature makes it a snap to visually keep tabs on your work in progress and figure out what needs to happen next – and when.
Why we love it: While Trello does the job nicely in terms of planning high-level projects, its usefulness doesn’t end there – it’ll also integrate with your email program so you can turn incoming messages into cards in just a matter of a click.
3. SimpleMind Pro: The best tool for mind mapping
What it does: If you struggle with a) giving your ideas structure and b) communicating them across the team, then it might be time to try out mind mapping. Handily, SimpleMind Pro makes creating seriously gorgeous mind maps easy. Whether you’re mind mapping solo or alongside your team, this intuitive app is the quickest, easiest way to capture, organize and and visualize your creative ideas, plans and strategies.
How it helps you to be more productive: Studies show that mind mapping doesn’t just help with memorization and information retention – it’s also great for helping you get those creative juices flowing, inspiring you to come up with new ideas by association and proactively exploring and vetting your own ideas.
Why we love it: SimpleMind Pro’s autofocus option shows you select branches of your mind maps without any other elements, allowing for quicker, distraction-free mind mapping.
4. Habitify: The best tool for building productive habits
What it does: Another must-have productivity app for anyone with ADHD is Habitify. It comes with everything that you’d want out of a habit tracker. You input the habits you want to get into, and it encourages you to keep your daily routine going, with regular reminders to keep you on the right path. The app also shows you how you’re progressing over time with detailed reports and data insights.
How it helps you be more productive: It’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed when you’ve got a lot on your plate. Building a list of smart habits you want to track and setting up reminders to commit to those is key to keeping you honest, accountable and – most important of all – seeing your productivity skyrocket.
Why we love it: Mostly for the uncluttered, minimal interface – it’s even better in Dark Mode!
5. Evernote: the best tool for taking notes
What it does: Evernote is another must-have productivity tool for people with ADHD. Note-taking apps are popping up here, there and everywhere, but if you’re looking for one that offers a user-friendly UI and searchability, then Evernot’s your guy.
How it helps you be more productive: Everything (and we mean everything – from meeting notes to audio, and PDFs to screenshots) you put into Evernote is searchable, meaning you can find pretty much anything you need in an instant.
Why we love it: Evernote lets you add tags to everything you save, making it easier to surface and keep your task-related content and documents organized.
6. Todoist: the best tool for to-do lists/task management
What it does: Todoist is a to-do list app that’s designed to help you get organized, achieve your goals and never forget a thing. With Todoist, you can organize all of your to-dos in lists and projects, set priorities and due dates, and easily add reminders for any time-sensitive tasks to make sure nothing important slips through the cracks.
How it helps you be more productive: Research shows that many ADHDers struggle to motivate themselves to do important, but non-urgent, tasks. This is thought to be due to comparatively lower levels of dopamine in people with ADHD, which inhibits the brain’s ability to recognize and seek out rewards. One way to “manufacture” this motivation is with Todoist Karma, a points system that rewards you for completing tasks, hitting your goals and more. Using the Productivity view, you can quickly see at a glance how many tasks you’ve completed on either a daily or weekly basis and help gauge progress towards your goals.
Why we love it: Todoist lets you take your to-do list on the go – you can access it on any device you can think of, from mobile to laptop and even your smart watch.
7. Brain Focus: The best app for Pomodoro
What it does: Brain Focus is a simple and effective focus app that uses the Pomodoro technique. Brain Focus aims to help you get things done by breaking up your task work into timed intervals where you stay highly focused on one single task, with short breaks in between.
How it helps you be more productive: Productivity and concentration are closely related. Sadly, though, there are lots of distractions that interrupt your focus and make you less productive. Whenever you want to focus on your current task, Brain Focus helps you maintain control of your time and attention by blocking distracting websites and apps for a preset length of time.
Why we love it: Brain Focus lets you customize the length of your breaks and Pomodoro sessions. Plus, the app’s simple and smart functionality makes it enjoyable to use regularly.
8. Due: The best app for reminders
What it does: Our final pick for the best productivity tools for people with ADHD is an app that gives away the game with its name: Due. Unlike some of the apps we’ve talked about above, it doesn’t have a whole ton of features in its back pocket – Due lets you create tasks with a deadline and simply reminds you when to do it.
How it helps you be more productive: Due works by reminding you about the essential things you need to tick off your to-do list on time, helping you accomplish your daily tasks on time without having to remember things on your own.
Why we love it: Nothing if not persistent, Due will simply keep reminding you of any pending tasks or upcoming events… until you either complete them or defer them to another time. If you feel you need to be pushed a little more than usual, this is the reminder app for you.
More ADHD-friendly productivity resources
- The Pomodoro technique: What is is and how it works
- Time blocking: What it is and how to do it
- Eat the Frog productivity method: What it is and how it works