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Taking Note with ADHD

… even the important things

I may have mentioned before that I keep a notepad in my back pocket at all times. It’s a contractor thing. It’s a writer thing.

Okay, it’s an ADHD thing.

As a contractor, I use it to write down measurements, make lists of materials, keep track of phone numbers I don’t need in my phone, or addresses I’ll never need again unless I’m working there again in the future, at which time I’ll get the address again.

And as a writer, when inspiration hits, it isn’t always easy or convenient to break out the laptop and just start writing, but I can almost always say, “Excuse me a moment …” snap out my little paper notebook and jot down what I hope will be enough for me to remember the inspiration and the context.

Seems pretty normal …

Well, yes, it is. But I also make lists of things to do, things I’d like to do, random things I see or hear or think of. I write down peoples names and things I think I might like to do someday.

As someone with ADHD I’m aware of two rather important things regarding the making of lists.

Two important things:

The first one is that I may never look at any list I create in my notebook again.

The second thing I am aware of is that using the part of my brain that I need to write notes in conjunction with the part of my brain that is referred to as short term memory (but that I refer to as “all the holes and very little holding them together”) strengthens the transfer to long term memory and reinforces the strength of that new long term memory I hope to have made.

That’s really kind of big, eh?

Why yes, yes it is. And it’s a trick you’ll sometimes hear people joke about. “If I write it down, I’ll never forget it.” But you need to actually do it to make it work.

And therein lies my biggest problem. I will often forget the biggest things. Because they are so huge and seemingly important, my mind will sometimes assume that those things cannot be forgotten.


Oh yeah, big time wrong. It isn’t that they weren’t important enough, not that I didn’t care enough. In fact it may be that they were too important.

It seems to me that the more important a thing is the more likely I am to consider it unforgettable. And the more I think of it as unforgettable, the more I view it as safely remembered.

But the thing I’ll remember is that I remember something, or rather that I have something to remember that I think is unforgettable so I needn’t worry about it.

So I write things down

I am as likely to write down something as important as a wedding day, as I am to write down a date on which the insert in my water filter should be changed.

It’s true that my phone now helps me a lot with things, but it is also true that I’m as likely to just dismiss a mass of notifications while thinking I’m on top of everything and miss that interview for that really great job that I always wanted.

No joke

And I’m not kidding when I tell you that I have missed some stellarly important things in my life. The one that jumps to mind right off the top of my head is the last payment on my motorcycle loan when I was 21 years old. The Bank manager didn’t buy the idea that I thought the month of that last payment was the first month I didn’t have to make a payment.

I really should have written that down, eh?

Taking Note with ADHD

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2016). Taking Note with ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 30 Nov 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Nov 2016
Published on All rights reserved.