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My Home Screen and Mental Health, Part 2

Published: 10.12.2018

One of my least favorite things about my brain is my abysmal memory. On the one hand, it’s reliability does enable me to use the word “abysmal” which is an upside. On the other hand, I’ll often tell a story to the same person multiple times, and forget to tell another person once. The same is true of my blogs and this one likely moreso. The upside of this is that sometimes it’s the specific wording of information that is important in learning.

I’ve talked before about the benefits of certain aspects of technology for mental health and specifically ADHD. This blog post is going to take an in-depth look at my phone, specifically the first page of apps, and why they are given this prominent position. Part one is here. Part three is here.

1. Google Documents

Everything I need to be searchable, coherent, accessible from anywhere, and look relatively nice lives in Google’s file storage. I use Docs for my client notes (carefully guarded by my password), writing projects, blog posts, and records such as how many coaching hours I’ve attained. It’s my external memory for important stuff that also has to look nice.

It’s very easy to manipulate the various file types to give me the information I need in the format I need it. Struggling to comprehend something that doesn’t make sense to my brain is not an option. I often insert images into documents to help me visualize parts of what I’m working on. I have multiple spreadsheets that keep detailed information about my sleep, exercise, and even a food diary. I’ve never had data lost or corrupted in this way and the real-time updating means collaboration is amazing.

I’ve also discovered the font Chelsea Market that’s available in Google Documents is much easier to read for Dyslexics and those of us who weren’t diagnosed but need every edge we can get.

2. Alarmed

This app formed the foundation of the systems I’ve created to support my life. It began as my catch-all for my memory and has evolved to contain the very core, most important actions I need to take on a day-to-day basis. Reminders to text and email clients live in Alarmed as well as my daily routines, financial tasks, and awareness reminders that I want to filter into my consciousness.

The awareness reminder is something I developed when something isn’t exactly actionable. Changing beliefs is something that I want to accomplish, but it is different from getting the dishes or laundry done. So I occasionally set up reminders that are purely meant to be read and internalized. “Remember: I am trying to implement 15 minutes self-care daily” is a good example. Not something I can take action on that second, necessarily, but keeping it in my mind. Of course, too many of these and they all begin to fade into annoying background noise, so that’s a delicate balance I am still seeking.

3. Safari

This is my mobile access to the internet. Indulging 5-minute research rabbit holes into topics that randomly occur to me. “What does “O.K.” stand for?” for example (look it up, it’s actually amusing). Finding the definitions for words. Looking up images or information to inspire me for projects. Getting recipes to support my nutrition. All of this basically makes my life better, sometimes in “trivial” ways. It allows me to indulge harmless impulses.

4. Email

Aside from the basics - communicating with clients, family members - I also receive daily information on ADHD in my email. I’m not great with research consistency, so having it come to me helps me feel in the loop about the latest. I use Google Alerts for this as well as a few blogs. I also sometimes use email to send myself things (information, reminders). Google Calendar has a feature that will email you your schedule at 5AM, and this helps keep my commitments in my awareness before I begin anything else. In the past, I’ve also subscribed to inspirational daily emails.

5. Trello

Trello has a feature where all cards with due dates appear in a feed on the home page, in order. One of the things I do, after I get ready for the day, is check this feed. This allows me to prioritize what I’ve committed to doing and producing. When I agree to something, it becomes a due date. When I decide to do something, I ask someone for accountability and it becomes a due date.

I’ve had to protect this system from things that aren’t true deadlines, otherwise, I ignore it. “I’d really like to get this done by Wednesday” is very different from “I promised John I would get this done by Wednesday”.

I also use this Trello as a database for anything I’d like to get done in the next 3 months. Further than that, I move it to my “Arrow in my Path” system. It also holds reference information and lists of things like craft projects I want to start and blog post topics. My notes for this blog series are stored in a Trello card.

6. Discord


I joined this instant message, voice chat, and forum application because of a client and now I would not be without it. I’ve joined a few communities and love them. It also has enabled me to run Dungeons and Dragons over the internet. I’ve found its calling function to be far more stable than Skype and any frustration I can eliminate from my life is good with me.

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